Step-by-step guide

#PlayEurope Step‐by‐Step Guide – “Become Social Entrepreneur in 7 days” ‐ contains exercises for seven days, after which aspirant entrepreneurs will acquire the basics of the crucial soft and hard skills important to set up a social enterprise. In particular, each soft skill identified, as creativity or leadership, will include an exercise and it will be connected to a specific technical or hard skill. This approach could help users to succeed not only in their potential entrepreneurial pathway, but also in any future workplace.

INTRODUCTION

What is a Social Enterprise?

Are you interested in making a difference in the world? Are you interested in social entrepreneurship as a way to unify your passion and your livelihood, but are you still unsure about what Social Entrepreneurship is?

Let’s try to make it a bit complicated, before we make it simple!

According to the European Commission and the Erasmus+ Project Guide, Social Enterprise:

1)    has as its primary objective the achievement of measurable, positive social impacts rather than generating profit for its owners, members and stakeholders, where the undertaking:

a) provides innovative services or goods which generate a social return and/or

b) employs an innovative method of production of goods or services and that method of production embodies its social objective;

2)    reinvests its profits first and foremost to achieve its primary objective and has in place predefined procedures and rules for any circumstances in which profits are distributed to shareholders and owners, in order to ensure that any distribution of profits does not undermine the primary objective;

3)    is managed in an entrepreneurial, accountable and transparent way, in particular by involving workers, customers and/or stakeholders affected by its business activities.

Sounds complicated? Doesn’t have to be!

In practice, Social Enterprise is any business that:

 

·      Aims for a positive social impact as its primary objective;

·      Generates a social return through innovative services or goods;

·      Employs innovative method of production;

·      Is managed in an open and transparent way by involving workers, customers and/or stakeholders.

Thus, what makes Social enterprise social is its dedication to a cause. A lot of businesses these days mark themselves as being inclusive, transparent and with good practices of business accountability. This, however, is not sufficient to make your business “social”. The social aspect has to be a goal on its own and even the outputs or the procedures should have a definite and reachable social character.

Often social businesses begin because people see a gap where the state or the local government are not able to provide solutions and they decide to do something about it. By the way, even if the final goal is always social-oriented, there are some differences on how the business approach the issue.

According to Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, social business have different organizational models:

” 1. Non-profit Social Enterprise – A non-profit organization to drive the adoption of an innovation that addresses a market or government failure. The entrepreneur engages a cross section of society, including private and public organizations. There is a dependency on outside philanthropic funding, but their longer term sustainability is often enhanced given that the partners have a vested interest in the continuation of the venture.

  1. For-profit Social Enterprise– A for-profit organization created with the explicit intent to solve a social problem. While profits are ideally generated, the main aim is not to maximize financial returns for shareholders but to grow the social venture and reach more people in need. The entrepreneur seeks investors who are interested in combining financial and social returns on their investment.
  2. Hybrid Social Enterprise– A non-profit organization that includes some degree of cost-recovery through the sale of goods and services. Often requires setting up several legal entities to accommodate earning income and charitable expenditures in an optimal structure.”

However, what is really relevant is that social goals are reached in an accountable and transparent way and life in community is changed for the best by filling a gap.

As a general overview, the phenomenon of Social Entrepreneurship has grown since 2009 and become more and more widespread and visible all over Europe. It has grown so popular that multiple countries even have their own specific legal regulations for it!

You can find more information with some maps and statistics in the European Commission synthesis report: “A map of social enterprises and their eco-systems in Europe”.

Now listen up the TedxYouth speech by Greg Overholt on Social Entrepreneurship, that is really inspiring!

 

Explore some resources!

Play & Learn!

Do you know what a Social Enterprise is? Test yourself and find out how much you know about it!

STEP #1 - Set up your own idea: who am I aiming to help?

You saw a problem and want to fix it. Do you have an idea of where to start, but are you still unsure if your idea works? Let us help you!

Let us guide you through some basic, simplified assessment questions adapted to the social entrepreneurship scene and then give you a SMART and SMARTER toolbox for your individual use!

Grab a pen and a scrap of paper, and let’s do this!

First of all, define the problem you would like to address. Highlight every aspect that motivates you when dealing with that problem. How is it personal, how is it important to you or your community?

Now take it further: what is your idea to fill the gap or amend the problem?

Once you have stated your problem and written down your initial solution, there are many things to think about. For example:

  • What is your sector?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Have you a market advantage?
  • Who is your team?

These are just some steps of this Guide. Continue to read and discover each one of them! For the moment, congratulate yourself, as you have just assessed and formalised your social enterprise idea!

Scary, isn’t it?

Let’s go on… Take a look at the table below and think of the keywords listed. Is your idea SMART or even SMARTER?

S

Specific

Significant, stretching, simple

M

Measurable

Meaningful, motivational, manageable

A

Attainable

Appropriate, achievable, agreed, assignable, ambitious

R

Relevant

Realistic, result-oriented, rewarding

T

Time-bound

Trackable, tangible

E

Evaluate

Ethical, excitable

R

Re-evaluate

Rewarded, Recorded, revisit.

 

These are some of the basic tools for idea-assessment. They help you to get to know your idea better, as well as help you explain your vision to others!

First step to making an idea a reality is to know it well enough to be able to investigate all its shades and aspects.

 

Explore some resources!

 

Play & Learn!

Change your perspective to approach problems differently, with Six Thinking Hats you can change your point of view!

This is the tool you were looking for to improve your process information skills… many engaging games to wake up your mind!

All the reasoning exercises you need to enhance your soft skills. Play with Mind Games and monitor your progresses in different fields!

Who is the fastest to answer these quizzes? Find it out through a compelling competition that put yourself against other players… Would you like to try?

STEP #2 - Focus on your resources and needs: which is your starting point?

What do you do when you go shopping? Or when you are organizing a party? Or studying for an exam?

Making a list!

Things, drinks, guests or lessons… Checklists are always a good idea to organize yourself, to prioritize and to plan the upcoming steps of your business.

For example, you may want to make a list of your contacts in order to build connections with people that could be useful in your working future.

STEP 2_k-Veloce-Infographics

And what about mindmaps?

Mindmapping can help you getting a closer idea of your current situation and future plans. For these reasons, both checklists and mindmaps could be really useful instruments to help you starting a business. Once you have your business idea, you need to know exactly the point you are at: the resources you already have, the knowledge you still need, the customers you want to reach, how to get a higher impact for your business…

Seems too much? It isn’t if you know some easy tricks of the trade… and SWOT analysis is a great one!

SWOT analysis is widely used in business environments. It summarizes advantages you have and risks you face when you and your team undertake a certain project, both from internal and external origin. This is what SWOT means: SWOT are the initials of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Let’s take a closer look on each one of them:

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES” are the internal factors: “strengths” could be that things you do well, the knowledge you already acquired and the equipment you have at your disposal; “weaknesses” are the things you lack, or other people do better, or missing equipment and resources (or money) you need to start your business. Maybe you recognise you need some trainings in a specific field and you can start taking classes about that topic.

Or you are not so sure about potential customers’ behaviors and you want to explore their needs by delivering a survey.

“OPPORTUNITIES AND THREATS” are the external factors: they depend on your environment. An “opportunity” could be the fact that your business is unique in your place or having a wide network of contacts that can help you advertise your business.

A “threat” could be that your service depends on a certain regulation, or the things you sell are not needed or unfashionable after a short time.

SWOT analysis will help you to detect the steps you have already carried out, and to list the next ones you need to embark on!

Once it is clear which the things you are good at are or not, you may need to speak personally with an expert in order to take some information for making concrete what you have thought so far!

Which kind of structure do you want for your business (nonprofit, charity, small business)? Are there some offices in your Country where you can take practical information about bureaucracy and costs for launching your business?

Check this list to find out the entities that may support you in launching your social business in your country!

 

Explore some resources!

 

Play & Learn!

Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone, you should be leader of yourself and smart enough to understand market expectations. Are you ready to take the quiz and prove that you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

With the Eisenhower Matrix time management won’t be a problem anymore! Find out the tool to manage tasks and priorities!

STEP #3 - Whic is your product or service?

One of the first steps you need to undertake before deciding to start your own social business is to identify which product or service you want to offer to the market.

The Product is one of the 4 key elements that make up the Marketing Mix.

Do you know what does Marketing Mix mean? This brief video will make it simple!

When you prepare a Marketing Mix strategy, you create a chain of strong bonds that will guide you forward in making the chain longer. Whenever you are considering adding a new feature or changing existing things, you have to look at the overall picture, which helps in creating a clean Marketing Mix for the product/service.

This section of the Guide will allow you to concentrate on the product or service you want to offer, and above all, on its additional value in order to provide a social impact to society.

The key is

“putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time”.

In the case of social business your aim will be to create a business and help society in the meantime.

So the questions you need to answer when you identify your product/service are:

  • Does your product/service solve a pressing problem faced by the community you want to serve?
  • Does your business idea encourage employment and skill training at the local level?
  • Does your business model allow for revenue to be reinvested into the local economy?

So first of all try to choose the social issue you want to address with your social business, thinking of your desires, inspiration, what kind of problem you’d like to solve with your contribution, and then try to identify and choose your product/service.

This is one of the most important parts of establishing a social business and you must be sure of the value you intend to introduce in the market. The Value Proposition Canvas can help you in this.

Quality should be your final achievement! That is exactly what differentiate products and services in the market. Surely each of us had a bad experience after the purchase of a product or a service: the product was not as you expected, the price was misleading, the customer service was not adequate, the after-sales service was disastrous, etc.

Do you know – according to Forbes – which are the 10 qualities of a successful product? This can be interesting for you to have a general idea of what could make a product/service successful in the market.

All these aspects make the difference between a successful organisation and an unsuccessful one. Clients are smart, they don’t like to be cheated, and therefore they are willing to spend more money as long as they obtain a high quality service or product or they feel they are giving their contribution to a social cause.

Once you are sure that you are creating a winning product/service for your social business, keep in mind to test it in each phase of production and development! In fact, testing is a process that make you aware at every single step if your product or service would have a good impact on the market before you launch it!

Do you know how to test a product or service before its launch to the market? The first step could be to ask open questions on Quora and other online discussion tools. FIND OTHER TIPS HERE.

It means that you can save money instead of wasting it for an unprofitable idea.

Explore some resources!

·      How to Set Prices When You’re New in Business

·      The Marketing Mix – Product distribution

·      7 WAYS TO PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE FOR FREE

·      7 ways to add massive value to your business

·      The Value Proposition Canvas by Strategyzer

·      10 qualities of a successful product

·      Are You on the Right Track? Test, Test and Test Some More

·      10 Experiments to Test Your Startup Hypothesis

Play & Learn!

·      Creativity Games

Develop your creativity and test your ability in finding non-conventional solutions with games like Random Futures and Creativetree! Imagination is the key word!

STEP #4 - Build up your own team

Teamworking is fundamental in a social business model to achieve good results.

Becoming a social entrepreneur means taking responsibilities and also considering your team’s needs regarding their professional development and well-being. Considering these aspects is what differentiates a good social entrepreneur from a mediocre one.

Having the right people in your team is extremely important. They are the ones who are going to support you in both the challenging and successful times in your social business. Finding and selecting people with the right mindset is quite crucial to look forward to your business horizon. On this proposal you could find useful this article on how to find people with the right mindset for a social business team.

Developing a cohesive team is like a process made of 5 key stages:

Nowadays, the business world is changing and start-ups are more and more innovation-oriented. In addition, enterprises are not tied down to physical locations anymore.

As potential social entrepreneur you should consider setting up useful online tools that may help you in improving communication and collaboration among the members of your team and boosting team’s productivity, for example:

  • Google Drive: a free data storage service offered by Google, in which you can store and share all the material you want, open and edit various kinds of documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls) together with your team.
  • Dropbox: a cloud-based file holding service for sharing and exchanging files among your team. It is free and very easy to be used.
  • Slack: a virtual team communication and collaboration tool, it also integrates with other team apps. Apart from its main feature to ease communication within your team, it also helps you in doing fun stuffs. It also pushes you to do something more each day.
  • Trello: a flexible and visual tool to manage and organize your projects. You can create new projects and tasks and assign someone to those tasks in a simple way. It gives you real time updates!
  • Asana: a tool to track your team’s work and manage projects. It’s the easiest way for teams to track work and get results.

To have a general overview of social entrepreneurship field, why not communicate with other social entrepreneurs and read their ideas and valuable insights related to your business area?

 

Take advantage of other people experiences! Check the following pages:

You can also consider joining “accelerators” and “incubators” for training, development and business support opportunities. Especially, for early-stage startups, accelerators and incubators offer great support for business development.

Going in depth, incubators support startups in the beginning stages of building a company. Accelerators, on the other hand, help in the development of existing enterprises that already have an idea and a business model in place.

The difference between incubator and accelerator is still unclear?

Watch this video to learn more!

And if you are searching for Startup Accelerators and Incubators networks in your region, it’s plenty of opportunities out there!

 

Explore some resources! 

 

Play & Learn!

 

Are you able to work in team and cooperate with others? This challenging game leads you to set up an original group activity! Play with your friends!

Negotiation and empathy are essential to carry out a business, play with Card Pieces to improve these skills!

Critical thinking allows people to find solutions to critical issues and it is very important if you want to run a business… Come out and test your skills with your friends!

Are you able to build a bridge with a wall in a middle between your team and another? Just try! Communication is the only effective tool to be used!

You don’t need to be good in drawing to reproduce what people tell you… Just listen and draw!

Listening is one of the more difficult things to do… Play to improve your skills and understand different point of view!

STEP #5 - How finance your Business

This is one of the crucial part of building up your social enterprise! Each and every coin that flows into the company requires you to make a decision: should this be used to pay salaries, buy new equipment for production, invest in new opportunities, or something else?

It’s up to you how to direct the funds to salaries, profits or operations, or towards new opportunities. But what if the revenue of financing is not enough or if you need initial capital to get started?

For a social entrepreneur, starting out it can be hard to sort through the funding options available. Browsing the internet can help with ideas, so your social enterprise or start-up can access the funding to get off the ground.

Here there are a few ideas of how accessing economic resources!

Generally, you can differentiate between funding and financing. Funding is the money provided by companies or government sector for a specific purpose. Instead, financing is a process of receiving capital or money for business purpose, and it is usually provided by financial institutions, such as banks or other lending agencies.

When it comes to finding economic resources, nothing beats grants! Money has given to you, free of charge, so that you can invest directly in your idea. Obviously, locating these grants is extremely difficult, but you’ll never get a grant if you don’t try! UnLtd is an example of the places you can look at.

Of course, finding grants also depends on the type of your social enterprise. If, for example, you focus on environment, you could first check out the grant opportunities from your government or relevant NGOs.

If you are from Europe there are several possibilities to discover such as EU funds, as well as International foundations or entities for funding for realities outside European borders!

Moreover, there is also growing support for small business start-ups in the form of competitions that encourage innovation by offering a large financial reward.

To improve your chance of success in these competitions, find ways to make your project stand out from the crowd. You’ll either have to present your idea in person or pitch it through an essay, so the idea itself has to be as original as possible. It’s all about the current trends and key words like digitalization, social innovation, design thinking and change making. Implement these in your pitch!

Crowdfunding instead is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the internet.

Crowdfunding has been used to fund a wide range of social and green entrepreneurship projects and it has exploded in popularity in the past few years, getting attention from both investors and businesses alike! But, all of this popularity also means an increase in competition, which means that unless your business can catch the attention of the matches, it will likely join the large number of projects that go unfunded on these sites each month.

Here it is a list with popular crowdfunding platforms where you can promote your idea!

People who are interested in ideas such as yours will rather look for opportunities to donate on such platforms. Sometimes, banks also support social ideas and crowdfunding initiatives by providing new platforms with good consulting.

 

 

 

Explore some resources!

 

Play and Learn!

App ‘Office Story’ (downloadable for Android and iOS)

Would you like to be a social entrepreneur? Launch your business and find out if you have what it needs to be a real business-man! Download the game!

STEP #6 - Make your social enterprise known: Online Marleting and PR are the way!

If someone doesn’t know that you exist, how can they ever do business with you?

Marketing is the solution everyone looks for to give an impressive visibility to products and services. It is made of a set of processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, partners and society as a whole.

By quoting Philip Kotler, the father of Modern Marketing, the heart of marketing is to

“create, communicate and deliver value to a target market at a profit”.

By the way, if your intention is to achieve a social change, communication is crucial to spread your mission throughout the society!

Obviously, nowadays Online marketing is the most powerful instrument to increase your visibility on the web, by using for example banner ads, e-commerce, Search Engine Optimization strategies, social media and e-mail marketing.

Moreover, in order to spread your social business and its solutions in the most efficient way, a great option is the Promotion Mix that is a combination of various communication techniques, such as advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, social media marketing and public relations (PR).

In a marketing campaign a peculiar mention is for Public Relations activities, that aim to stand out social business values by using nonpaid forms of promotion and information to influence customers’ and society’s feelings, opinions or beliefs about the company, its products or services.

You can check the importance of PR activities by yourself:

Communication is also related to the Brand and Visual Identity of your business.

Branding is all about perception. It is about creating, managing and building a desirable perception within the marketplace.

Now, let’s try to be creative! Close your eyes and just think about the image to be associated to your product or service… It can be a symbol, a name, a logo, a slogan or a design scheme.

And what about the colours? Creating a brand means to choose an explicit image to represent implicitly values, ideas and personality of your social business.

People will recognise the brand and they will easily associate it to your business idea.

Don’t forget to include Social media in your winning communication strategy!

Social media represent the current arena to express opinions, share pics, point of views, ideas and through which users are able to create online communities! For all these reasons, social networks are the best place to convey the messages or ideas that your brand represents.

As long as social media request immediacy of emotions it is better to use smart messages, easy language, accurate keywords… and don’t forget the power of pictures! Sometimes images can be more effective than any words.

With 3 billion users around the world in 2018, there’s no doubt that social media has the scope and tools to bring great opportunities for any business, including social entrepreneurship!

Are you curious to know what happened to this guy who spent $500 to test Facebook promotional services on a new Facebook page?

Finally, nowadays to be found on the web by potential clients who don’t know you by ranking high in online searches is a MUST! SEO, Searching Engine Optimization, is the way. It starts with determining the keywords and phrases that could be used to find your organisation… and then making sure your website is properly structured to take advantage of those words.

In fact, today it’s not about get the traffic, it’s about get the targeted and relevant traffic, generating successful leads and sales in your social business.

Explore this SEO Guide for 2018 in 10 minutes!

STEP #7 - How to measure your social impact

If you want to create a successful social business, you should be able to verify its positive impact on society. For this reason, establishing rigorous methods of business measuring and monitoring is as important as any other step that you will take in order to design and implement a winning business.

So let’s discover together how you can measure the impact of your business idea.

What is the social impact?

Think of it this way: the Business plan is a roadmap with a few key stops along the way. Social impact is one of them. Out of all the outcomes that your business can produce, social impact – how a product affects society and individuals – is maybe the hardest to measure.

But what actually is a social impact? According to the Business Dictionary, it is

“the effect of an activity on the social fabric of the community and well-being of the individuals and families”.

In other words, we can define the social impact as

“A significant, positive change that addresses a pressing social challenge”.

Increasingly, businesses find that consumers prefer products with ethical or environmental attributes and there is now evidence that a majority are also willing to pay more for them. A study by marketing research group Nielsen founded that 55% of online consumers across 60 countries would pay a premium for ‘green’ or socially responsible goods and these data are growing throughout the years!

Business planning and Social impact

As we will find out in the final step of this Guide, a well-constructed Business plan should provide a clear and compelling story about the social problem your organisation aims to solve, the unique approach that you will take to address it and the expected impact on society.

Before you can measure the impact that your business has on the community, firstly you need to identify long-term social impact indicators and, secondly, you have to assess your short-term performance actions.

Key models of Social impact Measurement

After you have put so much time and effort into developing a strategy that will ensure a sustainable social impact of your business, you should also be aware of the methods that you can use in order to measure it.

  • Social Cost-Benefit AnalysisSocial CBA – seeks to express the full social costs and social benefits of a project, programme or intervention in monetary terms. Social CBA can also help you measure indirect costs and benefits of a business. These may include tangible impacts with a market value (e.g. number of jobs indirectly created); tangible impacts with no market value (e.g. environmental impacts); and intangible impacts with no market value (e.g. well-being or social capital). If it is not clear take 5 minutes to watch this video on Cost-benefit Analysis.
  • Social Return on Investment SROI – as a process, SROI involves identifying the outcomes of the activity giving them a financial value, excluding outcomes that would have happened anyway or are a result of other factors, and then calculating the ratio of investment to benefit or value created.
  • Cost-Effectiveness AnalysisCEAprovides a non-monetary evaluation that compares costs to outcomes as a ratio and it is most useful when benefits cannot be monetised. CEA is commonly used in healthcare, for example, where it is difficult to put a value on outcomes but where outcomes themselves can be counted and compared, e.g. ‘the number of lives saved’. In most circumstances, CEA is the cheapest and quickest social impact method to apply, however it doesn’t explicitly evaluate the outcome and can only be used to assess one outcome at a time.

 

If you want to know more about social impact measurement, take a look to the Handbook for Product Social Impact Assessment.

What can you do in order to increase the social impact of your business?

  • Local employment – hiring local people to help you turning your business idea into reality will not only have a positive economic impact on the community, but also it will better integrate your business into the local picture.
  • Local purchase – buying local products can also help you to achieve the social impact you desire.
  • Get involved in community initiatives – support a local charity or give your employees the chance to get involved in local initiatives. This practice is known as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy and it could really make the difference in your path through Social Entrepreneurship.

 

Tips & Tools

There are lot of tools which are meant to help businesses to measure their social and economic impact:

  • Prove and Improve Tools – NEF ConsultingBased on research from the New Economics Foundation, NEF Consulting offers tools and resources to test and improve the impact of social enterprises, charities and other mission-driven organisations and projects.

These pages provide a valuable introduction to a number of tools and methods for measuring and improving impact. NEF Consulting also offers a variety of trainings which are aimed at strengthening the capacity of organisations to think in new ways and to realize the value of their contribution towards shaping a new sustainable economy. 

  • The Tool Decider – NEF Consulting – this is designed to help you to identify the tool best suited to your organization and to your performance management needs. Start at the center of the chart selecting your organization size and discover which is the strategy that best fits in your case.
  • GEMI Metrics Navigator – this tool was developed by The Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI) and it is designed to help organisations developing and implementing metrics that provide insight into complex issues and support business strategy. The tool presents a six-step process to select, implement and evaluate a set of “critical few” metrics that focus on organisation’s success. Each step of the tool provides guidance in the form of a worksheet, series of questions or checklists.
  • Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS) – it is developed by the Rockefeller Foundation; Acumen Fund, a non-profit venture that invests in business working to address global poverty; and B-Lab, a non-profit that builds market infrastructure intended to support such business. These founding partners have been supported by Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers. IRIS is a free public good to support transparency, credibility, and accountability in impact measurement practices across the impact investment industry.
  • Total Impact Measurement and Management (TIMM)PricewaterhouseCoopers’s Total Impact Measurement & Management (TIMM) puts a value (positive or negative) on impacts across society, tax, economics and the environment. It gives business the ability to compare strategies and investment choices, evaluating the total impact of each. One of the quadrants that the TIMM framework measures is the social impact – the consequences of business activities on society such as health, education and community cohesion.

 

Isn’t enough for you? More tools are available in The Guide for Business created by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

Online platforms to share Best practices

To help you understand better the importance of the social impact plan and how to measure it, we have gathered a few online platforms where businesses can upload their own case studies and best practices. These platforms are also a great way to connect with peers facing the same challenges!

  • Social Value CommissioningA website containing information on how you can increase the social value you create through all aspects of your commissioning from initiating through delivery and review.
  • The SROI Networka global network of individuals and organizations, headquartered in the UK that promotes the use and development of the SROI methodology
  • Social Value Hubis a free resource created by a range of partners who serve the social economy. The hub contains a range of shared resources including frameworks, case studies and toolkits.
  • Social Value Portalan online meeting place for Businesses, the Public Sector, Charities, Social Enterprises and Communities. The Social Value Portal has been designed to bridge the gaps in collective knowledge, to become ‘the place’ where businesses comes to learn about social value and social impact. The portal contains numerous resources including financial proxies, case studies.
  • Social Impact Exchange – a LinkedIn group with the purpose of serving a community of members in the social sector through continuous knowledge development and effective funding practices that expand the impact of top-performing social programs and initiatives.

Moreover, if you want to keep it practical you should take a look to The Business Value of Impact Measurement (BVIM) with a great number of case studies which will surely motivate and inspire you… So check them out!

 

 

Explore some resources!

 

Play & Learn!

A trilogy of serious games to test your attitude and habits. Are you a good time manager? You don’t know it until you try!

STEP #8 - Keep calm and create your Business Plan!

Here you are in one of the most significant Step of this Guide: making your business idea concrete!

Since we are dealing with Business planning, here you will find some topics that will be developed more in detail in the following steps.

Ready? Let’s get it started!

What is a Business Plan?

The business plan has the objective to guide the enterprise in the right direction and to describe the entrepreneur’s thoughts and ideas. It is a fundamental tool that can keep the entrepreneur, the employees and the business on the correct path.

Its aim is to:

  1. Identify the business aspirations;
  2. Determine if these aspirations are feasible in the current economic situation;
  3. Outline the steps that the entrepreneur will take to reach the main objective.

In other words, for a social enterprise the business model is the channel through which the social entrepreneur converts inputs into outcomes, by generating social value (measurable impact) and economic value (revenues).

Before starting the entrepreneurial process

Do you want to be sure about the effectiveness of your business purpose? Try to focus on the problem you are aiming to solve and, at the same time, on the opportunity your idea represents. Which are the market needs? Is your mission achievable? Can you foresee any risks?

Think about it…

Business Planning: how to approach it

Once you are sure that your idea could have a real impact on society, it’s time to connect your VISION with ACTION.

Let’s focus on financial resources!

The revenue model

This is one of the key points of starting a business: be sure to have enough resources to launch it and sustain it in the future.

In order to know that, it is crucial to focus on different aspects related to start-up and full activity stages and concerning also measurement and impact evaluation.

Measuring impact is a key activity for an enterprise and we will discuss it more in one of the following steps of this Guide. In fact, how do you think to make the difference in society if you are not able to know which are the activities you are doing well and which are the ones that could be implemented?

For these reason, it could be useful to select some impact indicators strictly related to your mission. Be sure to choose:

  • Just critical indicators;
  • Adapt measures and process to the stage of the organization;
  • Set and measure interim milestones on the way to longer-term goals;
  • Use measures to improve your programme and organization.

The 5 truths you need to know about Business Planning

  1. The business plan is not eternal! Planning works until the future is “familiar”; 
  2. Create a business model! A business model is a tool that describes how the organisation creates, offers, and receives value;
  3. Consider all the alternatives;
  4. Business plan and the business model are just hypotheses. Test each one of them!
  5. Do not create a business before you know you will succeed!

Do you want to be sure that your Business plan is really interesting for investors?

Take a look to this video and prick up your ears!

How to write a Business Plan?

What should the entrepreneurial plan contain?

Business Plans may not have the same contents and that is because each institution (banks, fund and financial organisations) sets their own requirements for the development and the content of the entrepreneurial plan. But, in general, some crucial aspects must be always taken into account. These may include:

To answer each of these questions, you may need services of consultants and/or specialists but when creating the business plan itself, external assistance is unthinkable.

In fact, the idea of ​​the product/service and its implementation is strictly personal and, as a consequence, the plan itself can’t be developed by another person. Business plan is always personal, therefore its content depends on entrepreneur’s experience, knowledge and skills.

For this reason, strictly standardised principles for business plan creation cannot be mentioned.

Just before starting…

When start writing the plan you should have completed answering the majority of crucial questions such as: the new product/service, the financial sources, the specific market, the competitors, who and why they will buy the product etc. Everything should be explained in a very clear way.

One of the most practical approaches to start writing a business plan is as follows:

  1. Develop each section of the plan separately;
  2. Apply all the facts, data, comments, assessments and opinions of the relevant item;
  3. Classify the information;
  4. Check for credibility and consistency;
  5. Arrange the information in logical order;
  6. Edit and merge the plan together.

Therefore, at this level the most important is to present the contents of the plan in a logical sequence. It means that each step of the plan should be based on contents and problem resolutions of the previous one.

The Business plan Structure

Below you can find an exemplary structure of a business plan for establishing a social enterprise.

part

  1. Cover page
  2. Summary of the business plan

The Executive Summary provides the most important information for readers that need to understand and support the concept without necessarily knowing the details. This is usually written once all the sections of the plan are completed.

  1. Business plan content

II. Company’s and its product/service

  1. Description of the company

This section summarizes the organisation’s history and programmes.

Most social enterprises operate as an activity or programme within a non-profit, though some are legally structured as a separate non-profit, a for-profit subsidiary, or an independent organisation.

Form should follow functions and the legal structure should support the purpose and activities of the enterprise. Advices from an expert lawyer may be needed.

To sum up, you should describe:

  • The legal structure, including context and programmes;
  • How the business venture will be structured and organised;
  • Governance (Boards, advisory committees, reporting).
  1. The product/service

Here you can find a summary of the product or service that will meet the demand in the market. It does not need to include detailed descriptions, price lists or other materials.

It should contain:

  • Product/service description;
  • Positioning of product/service in the market.
  • Future products/services?
  1. The market

The market analysis is the heart of the business plan and it is too often inadequately explored when planning a social enterprise! Solid research is necessary to understand the target customers and how the enterprise will meet gaps and demand in the market.

Try to provide:

  • Summary of current market situation;
  • Target market and customers;
  • Customer characteristics, unmet demands and buying factors.
  1. Competitors

In this section you can include a picture of competitors, both non-profit and for-profit, and the value proposition, or market advantage, of your business.

Try to investigate:

  • Primary competitors:
  • Competitive products/services;
  • Risks and opportunities in competitive market;
  • Recent or emerging changes in the industry;
  • Specific description of competitive advantage of proposed product/service.
  1. Customers/Users

In the Customer Analysis section of the business plan you should identify the customer segments you aim to serve, analyse their needs and describe how products and services satisfy these needs.

  1. Marketing

Everybody knows how important is marketing in a business venture! In this section you will find a description on how the organisation will reach the target market and turn potential customers into paying ones.

Focus on:

  • Marketing strategy;
  • Sales tactics;
  • Advertising, public relations and promotion;
  • Summary of sales forecasts.

III. Management and of the activity

You can split this section into 3 different sub-sections:

  • Production and organisation of those activities that will bring to the development of the product/service;
  • Management – through this section the entrepreneur has to convince that he/she has the necessary knowledge and skills to manage the company;
  • Development of the activity – this section is not always present, especially when the plan is made for own use. Rarely, the developer makes previsions for years forward, because of rapid changes in external environment.

IV. Economic

At this point you should give an idea about your awareness of the economic environment, considering and observing specific economical, political and social factors.

For this reason, the entrepreneur should, on a daily basis, monitor the market, the financial, social and political aspects of the external working environment. The better the entrepreneur is informed, the greater probability for the business to survive.

V. Financial

Of course, you cannot avoid financial planning!

The financial section includes projections for revenues and expenses for at least three years with a summary narrative of the key assumptions. This section also provide details about the start-up costs for capital equipment, inventory, initial marketing and staffing, and subsidy needed to cover losses during the launching period. These capital requirements may be funded from a combination of contribution from the non-profit, grants for the enterprise, and/or debt financing.

VI.

In the last part of your business plan, you should focus on identifying and explaining the commercial strategies of the company, their implementation and the foreseen results.

A useful and complete guide on how to write a business plan for social enterprises and non-profits can be found here.

Isn’t enough for you…? Then spend 2 minutes of your time to watch this video on the Business Model Canvas, that can add value to a totally new business or to an existing one to improve its weaknesses!

Explore some resources!

Useful tools

Business plans are essential to evaluate the success of your business! What is the amount of your budget? What about the competencies of your team? If you have the answers to these questions, download Centro Business Planning Tool to understand how much your business costs!

STEP #9 - Take advantege from other social entrepreneurs!

The entrepreneurial journey is full of emotions! Good and bad moments are part of the game, and even if obstacles can get you down some days, there is always hope to rely on!

Remind that you are stepping on a path where just the boldest minds test themselves. A journey that most won’t try to make. A real adventure made of disappointment and triumph at the same time. As long as you stay a little more positive than having those negative thoughts, you’re going to come out the other side as a winner.

What’s the matter? Every successful entrepreneur from Jobs to Musk had a moment when they could have quit, they could have packed things up and moved on. But they didn’t, they fought for their vision, they battled the critics and came out victorious.

And that’s something that both big entrepreneurs and small ones have in common! What if you discover that so many young men and women across Europe have created their own social venture from zero, giving their active contribution to the community?

Be inspired by these amazing stories and keep on trusting!

Find your mission and start building up your piece of reality!