9 Building Blocks for a Sustainable Social Enterprise
When your social enterprise is looking to grow, scale or become more sustainable, it’s important to think about your business as a whole. In particular, when considering taking on social loan funding as part of your financial mix, there are several key factors to consider.
1. Social Impact
You should be able to clearly communicate the positive impact your organisation is creating and what impact you hope to achieve in the future. Also consider how you will measure and report this.
2. Organisation & Market
Being able to articulate your business model and purpose is crucial. You should understand where you sit in the market, appreciating demand for your product or service and wider competition.
3. Products & Services
Be clear on the products and services that you offer. Understand how much of your revenue comes from earned income and whether you may be too dependent on one or two key relationships to secure your sales.
4. Business Plan, Sales and Marketing
While not all social enterprises have a business plan in the traditional sense, it’s important to be clear on your business planning process. It’s great if you have a fantastic product or service, however, you’ll need to implement the appropriate sales and marketing to reach your target audience.
5. People and Skills
You need the right people in the right places to have the capacity, resources and skills to deliver your plans. What is the experience of your team? Are there any gaps?
Good governance is a key part of social organisations. Put your efforts into finding the right people with the skills that you need. Remember, your governance structure is there to support you, not hinder your success.
Keeping on top of your finances is key to the sustainability of your enterprise and impact. You should have the appropriate systems in place for recording and managing your finances and accounts.
Risk is not necessarily bad. However, having full visibility, an appreciation of and contingency plans in place is key in managing risk for sustainability.
9. Responsible Business Practices
Running a social enterprise means choosing to run your business responsibility. You should be working towards responsible business practices in addition to your core purpose. For instance, ensuring equality, diversity and inclusion, reducing your carbon footprint and building a social supply chain.
You might be thinking ‘I don’t have the skills to manage all of that!’ – well, don’t worry. Nobody has the skills to be good at everything. That’s why it’s important for social enterprises to build their team and relevant skills, develop partnerships, make use of the social enterprise support ecosystem and ask for help when needed.