For most social enterprises, regardless of whether they are for profit or nonprofit, you will more than likely have to write a business plan. While a bit daunting at first, a business plan is useful in that it helps crystallize where you want the organization to be, how you will get there, and who will be involved/necessary for that process. Especially if you plan to apply for grants, fundraise, or raise money, a business plan will be critical to success in those endeavors. There are several components to a successful business plan, and below you will find all of the relevant information to create your own.
This specifics depend a bit on whether or not your organization is for profit or nonprofit, but they are essentially the same, and are divided into the four components below.
Description of the Business: This section of your business plan will describe what the problem you see is, what the current market looks like, and how you plan on solving the problem.
Marketing: the marketing section includes greater details on how you plan to solve the problem. From developing a competitive analysis and marketing strategy to an operations plan and a set of metrics to evaluate success, the marketing section will contain a lot more than how you will advertise your social enterprise!
Finances: The finances section is important because it helps your organization evaluate how much money you need, how much money you have, what kind of (social) return on investment is created, and how your organization will develop over the years.
Management: This section says who is on your team, what these individuals do within your organization, and why they are qualified for the team. This is arguably the most important part of a business plan because the team is usually what makes or breaks an organization. Anyone can develop a great idea, but without the right team to execute it, the social enterprise will probably not be that successful.
Usually the best way to complete a business plan is to look at other business plans that have been created. By following the guidelines of how they are completed, what important information is conveyed, and the general style of the business plan, you will be 90% of the way towards creating your own successful business plan.
As you can see, business plans are quite a bit of work, but they are definitely worth it in terms of knowing where your organization is going, how it is going to get there, and how it is going to measure whether or not it is getting there on time. Attached is a copy of Gumball Capital's 2008 Business Plan for one of the Business Plan Competitions we competed in.
Small Business Administration. "Write a Business Plan." Page Online. April 2009.
Gumball Capital. "2008 BASES Social E-Challenge." Attached. April 2009.
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