Entrepreneurial Business Plan: Learning Disability Service

Introduction
There are those who seek out opportunities from the very situations where others fear chaos or are lost in confusion. These individuals often act as catalysts to bring about a change that reshapes a market place. They are thought of as Olympic athletes who constantly challenge themselves to surpass barriers, or long distance runners who are undeterred in bearing the agony of running miles, or symphony orchestra conductors who are experts in balancing the skills and sounds of people and instruments respectively in a cohesive unit, or top-gun pilots who endlessly challenge the limits of speeds and daring. From a psychological perspective, these individuals are driven by their quest to achieve or obtain something. They experiment and take risks to accomplish something and often resent authorities of others over them. To economists, these individuals gather resources, people, materials, information and other assets to create a value greater than before. The academia has come to recognize them as ‘entrepreneurs’ and their entrepreneurial activities as ‘entrepreneurship’. Entrepreneurs are important segment of any economy as they often spearhead innovations; many of which turn out to be seedlings of future large corporations. Keeping the importance of entrepreneurship in view, this essay focuses on deliberating an entrepreneurial proposal, with an aim to realize the rigors of formulating a business plan from an idea that creates value in general.
Entrepreneurship

According to Hisrich (2001) “Entrepreneurship is the process of creating something new with value by devoting the necessary time and effort, assuming the accompanying financial, psychic and social risks, and receiving the resulting rewards of monetary, personal satisfaction and independence.” Nafziger (1997 and 2006) states that entrepreneurship is comprised of basic features; coordination of production factors such as land, labor, and capital, decision making under uncertain conditions innovation and creative solutions to problems and fulfillment of a market gap with an input completer. The entrepreneurial business plan proposed in this essay will try to adhere to these definitions and incorporate the aforementioned features.
Business Plan
The business plan is to create an online service for people with learning disabilities. This plan is both entrepreneurial and socially driven and therefore it can be termed as social entrepreneurship. The distinction between business entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs is that the latter are driven by a social mission while the former is more focused towards wealth generation (Dees and Emerson, 2001).
The online service titled as “LDS”, will allow users to find out what’s going on in their communities, and provide information for the nearest and cheapest available social care support options for them to seek. LDS service would be designed like the “ebay of social care for people with learning disabilities,” It will assist care providers in knowing what services support and funds they are entitled to. Moreover, it will help care providers in planning their budget for a personalized social care support. It will also allow socialization among users in terms of forming communities, organizing events and activities and share information; all with an overall social care agenda.
Business Model
The prevailing business environment is manifested by rapid innovation and diffusion of new internet based information technologies (Bruin and Dupuis, 2003). These technologies create many new windows of entrepreneurial opportunities. The pervasiveness of the internet, which is a “communication medium that allows, for the first time, the communication of many to many, in a chosen time on a global scale”(Castells, 2001, p.2 in Bruin and Dupuis, 2003), presents new ways of working and entrepreneurial opportunities. The LDS is another such entrepreneurial endeavor made possible by the internet based information and communication technologies. It is a complete e-business initiative.
As a social and commercial enterprise, LDS will operate as a commercial entity. It will generate its revenue from the advertisement fees charged to the service providers, individual carers, and product stores who are likely to post their products and services over LDS. It will also generate revenue from a small one time registration fee charged to the users.
LDS will operate partly on a wiki principle. A wiki is a website which is partly user generated i.e. its users are allowed to create and manipulate its content via web browser. Wikis are usually run by wiki software and are typically operated collaboratively by several users. Through its wiki principle, the LDS website will allow users to provide their input; making this service a knowledge sharing portal dedicated towards caring people with learning disabilities. Moreover, it will serve as a portal for users to organize communities of users and clients. In order to monitor the activities of users to maintain focus and direction of the website, level of access will be enforced upon users.
The LDS will be created as an eMarketplace which would help people take charge of their own support. LDS will provide products and services for the social care sector through four interrelated modules. These modules are designed keeping the needs of the different users in mind. They are;
Individuals
Service Providers
Budget Managers and
Community
Macro Anslysis
More than 1.5 million people in the United Kingdom have a learning disability making it one of the most common forms of disability in the UK. Learning disabilities the most overlooked and least understood disabilities. Thus there is a dire need to spread awareness regarding learning disabilities and its support (LDC, 2012).
In 2004, the government of UK established the commission for social care inspection (CSCI) which has been publishing reports on the state of social care England annually since 2005. According to the data of 2006-07, the councils in UK had spent ?14.24 billion on social services. This is the gross amount spent on social services. As much as 60% of this amount was used in financing services for older people whereas people with learning disabilities received the second largest share which is 22% of total spending amounting to ?3.12billion (LDC, 2012).
The coalition government in UK government brought a major policy shift by reducing social spending in national budgets. The Emergency Budget in June 2010 enforced a reduction worth ?6.2 billion, including cuts in money given to Local Governments by ?1.165 billion. The Emergency Budget also initiated other big changes to the welfare system and Disability Living Allowance. For instance, it was followed by the Comprehensive Spending Review and the settlement for local councils. The Comprehensive Spending Review recognized the persistent underfunding of social care, which resulted in an influx of extra ?2 billion per year for social care services by promised by the government. However, this amount is not enough to cater the increase in the numbers of people requiring support (LDC, 2012).
In response to the aforementioned changes, Learning Disability Coalition, an independent organization, got engaged in supporting people with different learning disabilities. It carried out a survey of local authorities to assess the effects of changes introduced through the ‘Emergency Budget’ and ‘Comprehensive Spending Review’. A similar survey of over 350 disabled people, their families and care providers was carried out to ask them how the policy changes had affected them. It concluded that 90% of local authorities had less funding than before and 84% termed their funding conditions as “difficult”. Out of these, 20% were planning to cut services. As for the individuals with learning disabilities, 20% complained about a reduction in hours of care provided while 19% were faced with reduction support fund. About one third of the disabled people and their care providers had been contacted by their respective councils regarding a change to eligibility criteria (LDC, 2012).
Considering the issues discussed above, it is viewed that LDS will provide an innovative solution to all these stakeholders in utilizing their resources more effectively; thus creating a value for the society and an opportunity for the business person.
Stakeholders
The LDS is an open marketplace that can be accessed and used by anyone. It can be:
Individuals,
They comprise of people having learning physical or other mental disabilities, as well as older people.
Local Authorities,
They can range from urban metropolitan authorities to County Councils, all having different structures and strategies, and being at different stages in their move towards personalisation.
Service providers,
They can include national providers, smaller regional providers and local micro-providers.
Broker Organizations, and
Voluntary Sector Organisations.
It is vital to understand that these stakeholders vary in their interests and requirements; therefore an all-around approach will be adopted in order to successfully position LDS, which would help in engaging with each of these target audiences. LDS will engage Local Authorities on a regional basis through the ‘Joint Improvement Partnerships’ (JIPs) as well as ‘Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships’ (RIEPs). Direct engagement will also be targeted. LDS will engage service providers mainly through Local Authorities, which will be effective in utilizing their existing networks and relationships. Proactive service providers would be sought directly.
Market Position
LDS will serve as a platform for numerous service and products related to social care. They could be offered by any stores and service providers – all gathered in one marketplace.
The attraction of LDS to its customers is that it will meet the requirements of each individual customer group i.e. individuals, local authorities, service providers and broker organizations through its multi-facet software system, whilst providing them with a common platform to collaborate in providing/seeking social services. The LDS will be positioned within the social care industry to provide some of the following services leading to various benefits to its stakeholders:
ServicesBenifits
IndividualsAccess to a best value, high quality marketplace;
Ordering and payment process for services;
Tool to manage personalized budget.
Tool to enable employment of personal assistants.Easy setup and planning of budgets;
Reduced administration costs;
Access to best value catalogues;
Easy reporting to funding bodies.
Local AuthoritiesLow cost marketing channel for service providers;
Ability to setup an online retail store & catalogue;
Automated purchase to pay process;Low cost sales & marketing channel;
Easy management of online store;
Automated billing process;

Budget ManagersTool for brokers and/or LAs to setup and manage personal budgets;
Tool for LAs to review and audit support plans and outcomes
Management of budgets and support plans for many clients;
Administration of clients orders and invoices;
Reporting on funding, spend and outcomes.
Easy integration & reporting with existing systems.Macro / micro manage details of multiple clients;
Reduced personal budget administration costs for individual and LA;
Automated financial processes;
Report on funding, spend & outcomes.
Fewer administrative review visits required.
More time available for value added activities.

CommunityUser friendly information tool for individuals;
Content rich marketing channel for providers (beyond being a list);
Easy administration of catalogue for LA;
Reporting on utilisation and trends.
Efficient & effective way to find services & events which form part of support plan;
Free marketing for providers
Low cost admin and maintenance for LA;
Useful information for LA as a market manager.
Marketing Mix
In order to promote LDS and widen its clientele, collaborative relationships will be established with Social Care service providers. Some of the organizations that LDS will be looking forward to collaborate with include;
Association for Real Change (ARC)
BILD (British Institute of Learning Disabilities)
Downs Syndrome Association
Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities
Mencap
National Autistic Society
National Family Carer Network
People First
Real Life Options
Sense
The Hesley Group
The National Forum for People with Learning Difficulties
Turning Point
United Response
Voyage
Furthermore, LDS will create a promotional calendar to engage with individual and general population. LDS will also carry out promotion activities at relevant national and regional events. Moreover, LDS will make various other marketing materials which would be made readily available to reinforce the brand. These materials will include: electronic newsletters, standardized fliers, presentations, mugs, and key-rings etc. LDS will also try to get media coverage and contribute in several national publications.
Monitoring and Evaluation
YearObjectives
Year 1Launch initial pilot program for users
Continued marketing
By the third quarter of the first year, launch a complete version of the program
Bring along atleat 100 different service providers
Engagement with at least 5 Local Authorities
Launch a whole scale application that could be run on a Partner’s website
Year 2Engagement with at least 10 Local Authorities
Achieve target for ?50m spend by service users over LDS by the end of second year
Year 3Engagement with at least 15 Local Authorities
Achieve target for ?200m spend by service users over LDS by the end of second year
Expansion to overseas market
References
Bruin, A. and Dupuis, A (2003). Entrepreneurship: New Perspectives in a Global Age. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Dees, J. G., Emerson, J. & Economy, P. (2001) Enterprising Non-profits: A Toolkit for Social Entrepreneurs. New York: Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Hisrich, R.D (2011) Entrepreneurship. Tata McGraw-Hill Education
LDC, (2012) Learning Disability Coalition. {online} www.learningdisabilitycoalition.org.uk
Nafziger, E. Wayne (1997), The Economics of Developing Countries, Third Edition, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey
Nafziger, E. Wayne (2006), Economic Development, 4th edition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

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