What is a Social Enterprise?
Social enterprise is a more ethical, dynamic and independent way to do business. Social entrepreneurs are usually driven by an over-riding passion to improve the world in which we live.
With a social enterprise, after expenses and wages (including yours!) have been deducted, any profits are ploughed back into the business allowing it to grow from strength to strength.
Will the organisation trade (sell products or services) as a primary function?
Will the profits of the business be used to achieve the social objectives?
Your organisation is a
What do I do now?
The next step for your organisation is to write a business plan and register your business.
The next steps.
Have you written a business plan?
Have you decided on your legal status and registered?
Have you got your own funding to start-up?
READY TO GO
There will be many ups and downs on your journey to becoming a successful social entrepreneur. The main thing I learned is to make sure you get your basic business model right and working brilliantly before taking on too many arms and legs of the business! It’s too easy to lose focus and suddenly find yourself fire-fighting without taking the time out to develop and grow the business in a sustainable manner. Make sure you are forecasting your cash flow so you don’t get into financial difficulty and that you have the correct governance in place. This will include policies and procedures. If you are not sure what you should have, you can contact FVA for a governance health check.
Don’t forget you are not alone. If you are not already part of FSEN, join us today and get support from others that have been through the same journey you have.
I can’t anticipate every stage that you may be at just now but hopefully these will point you in the direction of some of the more obvious ones:
Are things going well?
Fife Voluntary Action (FVA)
FVA is the third sector interface (TSI) for Fife. They provide a wide range of support to third sector organisations and have expertise in a wide range of skills and topics including governance, funding, legislation, policy, volunteering, managing people, planning and problem solving.
If your organization has social / charitable aims but less of a trading aspect (selling goods or a service) then FVA will be able to support you on your journey. All support is free.
Fife Voluntary Action – https://www.fva.org/
Some examples of Social Objectives
• Improving the health and wellbeing of your community
• Dealing with social exclusion
• Creating employment
• Conservation of natural resources
• Feed the homeless
• Provide free training / education
• Recycle goods and re-sell to those in need
• Provide needed services for minority groups
• Run a community café or hub
• Give work experience to those furthest from the job market
• Improving mental health
• Creating transport links in rural areas
There are literally thousands of social impact objectives. The main thing to remember is that is your business is set up for the benefit of others and not yourself, it’s likely to be a social enterprise.
Business Gateway (BG) Fife
A good place to start is with BG. They will ask you to complete a Planning To Start (PTS) form and then assess if you are a social enterprise (SE) and what type of support will best suit your needs. If your business seems more commercial, they will allocate you an advisor or if they think it’s a SE, they will point you in the right direction. All support is free.
Business Gateway Fife – https://www.businessgatewayfife.com/
BG Fife Planning To Start form – https://www.businessgatewayfife.com/start/planning-start
Write a business plan
Writing a business plan is really important. It helps you to focus and develop your ideas. It makes your vision and aims clear and also sets out how you are going to achieve them. It will help you plan for which resources will you need to deliver the products or services and most of all, the research that you’ll need to do for your business plan will clarify whether your business is viable.
Business Plan Outline – download here
Business Plan Example – download here
Help with research – https://www.bgateway.com/our-services/research-service
Cash Flow Forecast Template – download here
Decide on legal status
Social Enterprise is not a legal term. It just means that a business has been set up for the ‘common good’ rather than personal profit. There are opposing views about the term. Some feel that any business set up like that is a social enterprise (eg Social Bite) whereas others would not call you a SE unless you had a legal status that held an ‘asset lock’. An asset lock is a legal clause that prevents the assets of a company being used for private gain rather than the stated purposes of the organization. These purposes would be written down in your constitution or your M&As (if you were a ltd company). The main legal statuses that have an asset lock and are generally used for a SE are:
- Ltd Company with charitable status
You’ll find more about each here
If you wish to set up a business that has charitable status, and you want to be on the board of trustees as well as be a paid member of staff, you may be better to opt for the ltd company route as it is a unlikely a SCIO would allow for this. More here. If in doubt, OSCR (the regulating body) are very amenable so just give them a call on 01382 220446.
There are other options too and if you are not sure which one would suit your business best, you can get legal advice from:
Fife Voluntary Action (free) http://www.fva.org
Senscot Legal – specializing in SE law (first appointment free) https://www.se-legal.net/
Hopefully by now, you’ve done your business plan and research and completed your 3 year cash flow forecast. This may show that you need a helping hand to get you started or maybe you need capital investment. Funding may be available in the form of a grant or a loan. You do not have to pay a grant back but there often conditions attached to it, like regular reports to the funding body. You can search for potential funding yourself or get help from the following to point you in the right direction:
Fife Voluntary Action https://www.fva.org/funding_and_finance.asp
Funding Search – see what’s currently available – https://fife.fundingscotland.com/
Fife Council Community Investment Team – 03451 555555 ext 441000
Sign up to the FSEN network to get info on latest funds here
Funding Guidelines and main funders links – download here
Writing a funding Application
As well as the guidelines above, there is plenty of other good advice available on the internet. Two I found are:
Contact SCVO to put up your vacancy. They have a Trustee Vacancy Search – https://scvo.org.uk/projects-campaigns/terrific-trustees/search
At a more local level for both volunteers and board members or trustees, go to:
You are lucky that there is loads of free training and free workshops available to you in Fife! Why not take advantage and upskill?
Maybe you feel ready but don’t know where to start or you need to form a partnership in order to bid for larger contracts? Each year, the Supplier Development Programme (SDP) organises hundreds of training opportunities and events throughout Scotland. SDP training is free and comes in the form of both classroom-style workshops, which span the whole of Scotland, and webinars that can be accessed from wherever SME suppliers are based, from the comfort of your own desk.
If you feel you need to have partners, then contact P4P (Partnership for Procurement). They have loads of information, resources and guides on their website and will work with you to ensure you get the same chances as private businesses to bid for contracts.
There are 3 ways you can get this. The first is learning yourself by attending one of the free training sessions or workshops. If you need something really professional though that will take an expert in the field, you can contact Business Gateway to access their Expert Help Programme. This can get you up to 3 days of Professional help. They also have Digital Boost which can get you 1:1 support. Call them for more info:
Business Gateway Fife – 01592 857901
Alternatively, Just Enterprise have specialist advisors and their budget allows for up to 5 days of professional support.
Again, you can attend one of the many workshops available to help you with bookkeeping. You can contact us here and we will show you how to set up your daily bookkeeping and give you pre-formatted spreadsheets and show you how to use them or you can contact:
Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS) works with third sector organisations and funders so that they can measure and report on their impact.
Our aim is to make evaluation valuable, relevant and proportionate.
Our website gives access to evaluation tools and support. We explain our work with funders to make reporting more useful. And we share learning about the difference the third sector makes.
This is a guide that was written 10 years ago now but still has some useful info:
If you don’t want to go it alone, then maybe give Social Value Lab a call and see what they can do to help:
There are currently six thematic networks – Community Food, Cultural & Creative, Employability, Health, Sport and Tourism. It’s good to get involved as they will bring you up to date with the latest news within your particular sector.
Although social enterprises are commercial ventures operating within environmental or socially conscious principles, they are certainly not immune to business failure.
Just Enterprise’s Crisis Review service has been designed to support those social enterprises who are facing significant financial difficulties and the potential failure of the business.
Commercial failure can result for a number of reasons. Your organisation might have lost a significant contract, you may have grown your enterprise too quickly, or your financial planning processes may not have matched your ambitions.
If your organisation is facing the risk of running out of funds, potential closure and the loss of jobs, but you don’t have the experience or skills to tackle your problems, don’t wait until it’s too late to find out if there’s a chance for recovery, ask us for support as soon as issues arise.
Just Enterprise’s Crisis Review service will work with you to analysis and clearly identify the key issues. Where possible we will propose a recovery strategy and if you need it, we will also provide practical follow-on support if business restructuring is required. Our expert business advisors will work thought your restructuring options with you, and support you in the event that your business needs to be liquidated.
Please note that this service is not suitable for organisations who have had grant funding withdrawn or reduced.
Crisis Review is available a one-to-one basis only, and you can apply here, or call 0333 302 3333 for a chat.
You can contact FVA for help as they have a legal team there that can help with company law, employment law, charity law etc. This ais a free service.
Alternatively, you can contact specialists in SE law – Senscot Legal but there is a charge after your first appointment (albeit reasonable for lawyers!)