One of the toughest problems we all face when starting and running a new CIC is finding the time to do the work we want to do.
A CIC has infinite possibilities and we want to take all the exciting new opportunities. The more projects we put in grant bids for, the more impact we can have and the more money we can earn. Not only do we need time to manage projects, we also have to write bids, post on social media, run workshops and events, do evaluation work, manage volunteers, hire people, have meetings with partners, do admin jobs and more. This can lead to us becoming overloaded.
Many of you starting out will also have other jobs or another business to run. Plus life commitments like family time and your own personal down time. I talk to people everyday who are starting CIC's in their spare time while still working full time 9-5's. It is extremely challenging and can stunt the progress of your CIC.
So how do we grow a CIC with limited time and design a CIC that will give you more time off in the long term?
It's the dream to be free of all other work and just work part time on our CIC passion projects. That's the end game, so how do you get there?
Currently, I am designing a CIC with my partner who is still working full time as a scaffolder. My partner's dream is to quit his job and do his sculpture hobby as a professional artist. A professional goal that involves years of work with little income. Now currently he has virtually no time to get a CIC started. I have my own businesses to manage so I can't help run his CIC. So how do I start a CIC with no one to work on it!
The answer is get smart and come up with a solution that makes large income chunks, preferably some passive recurring income from services or products that will involve very little of our time. Once I have achieved this he can quit his job and have time to run the CIC. I could also hire staff to do community workshops and impactful work in our community.
Instead of telling you the solution to the problem I will start with telling you why all the usual CIC income ideas won’t work;
Grant funded projects are not the right path for us yet because they involve loads of time running workshops, doing community work and also evaluation. Waiting for a grant will also take 4 months and we want something soon.
Paid workshops and contracts with partners to deliver services like workshops. This is too time consuming and too small a amount of money. Great later on but not what we are looking for now as a solution.
Fundraising. Not a solution right now because we don't have the set up nor the time to make a fundraising. Being a new CIC we would not realistically raise the large amount we need to get started.
Recurring passive income like an online course or membership. This won't work for us right now as we do not yet have a community or specialism that would make enough sales quickly. This income stream is built up long term.
With all the usual CIC income streams out due to them taking too long to develop or too time consuming for us to run right now, what's left?
Here's what I have come up with.
First idea, an event. I'm going to go for a community creative fair event. Like an arts and crafts fair or a trade show. This event will be in a local hall and sell exhibition space to local community and arts projects. The community will benefit from a free event and will be able to meet and engage with these great projects.
Great impactful project for the community.
Great way to get our CIC known.
Great networking and partnership opportunities.
Great opportunity to survey the community.
Great way to gain photos and video for social and website.
I got the hall for free as we are a CIC! So no overhead except a bit on Facebook ads. I will charge £100 per exhibitor x 30 =£3000.
No financial risk with this idea. With no upfront cost we can run with just the idea.
If this first event goes well we will do 4 a year that's £12k income. Apart from a little work preparing it's a one day work job.
I could do bigger events, or charge more per table or add some paid workshops. There are lots of ways to boost this.
The second idea is a magazine. Simple concept, to tell our community about all the impactful work local creative community projects are doing. It could list events and be a directory of 'what's on' information.
Great way to give a service to the community.
Great way to get CIC reputation well known.
Make us look professional and could lead to opportunities.
We would sell advertising which would cover the cost of production and a local Mail Drop. Potentially making £1000-£3000 per issue. A quarterly mag is probably the best option.
Not much risk here either, the challenge is getting the advertising. This could be tricky and would need a magazine mock up and proof of readership.
Time wise this isn't huge as the publishers do the heavy lifting. I just need to send over basic information and rough articles. Only need about 6 stories.
Third idea, this ones a bit bigger and has a bit of a gamble element. A creatives co working space. These are really popular. I have seen local co working spaces sell out and there is a local art CIC who turned a bank into a co working space for artists.
I love this idea as I know the community needs it. I live somewhere with a large amount of artists and people don't have space in their homes. Plus people like to be in the community and not isolated working at home.
So this plan involves renting a high street space. That's the gamble. The space I want is £2k per month. We would need to raise the deposit and outlay to furnish it. We'd need to convince the council to give us a business rates exemption because we are a CIC. Possible but not guaranteed.
Once open I estimate I can charge £130 per month to members of this coworking space. £200 if they want a permanent desk or £400 if a team wants an area. There is other earning potential. Training, events, workshops etc. renting meeting rooms or a YouTube filming/podcasting space.
I estimate around £8k per month average income minus rent and a few other expenses like cleaners etc.
It can run itself without us there with a member key access system.
A space like this could be valuable long term for our CIC as it could be used for grant funded projects like a job club or youth club.
To raise the deposit for this idea I could use the first idea of the event's income money. Earning and investing is a great way to scale. You can only do that with income that is not, grant money. As grant money is just for project expenses. So best get entrepreneurial as well as grant funding focused.
All of the above ideas are easy to get off the ground with a bit of motivation and confidence.
They are also scaleable. They can be replicated into more events or more co-working spaces. There are also other possibilities once the concept is proven I could ask the council for an asset transfer for a disused building in the community. Say an old pub or bank they can't get rented. A CIC is eligible to bid and buy one of these buildings. You could actually buy a building for £1! Great community hubs or co working spaces.
So get thinking of what you could achieve with little time. What could you build into your CIC that makes the most of your CIC status and can be a great easy income.
I will report back how successful I am with our new plans. As always I will continue to give you my tips and tricks. Sharing the knowledge and inviting you to copy anything I do that works 🏼