The formulation of a concrete business plan will help the new social entrepreneur to concentrate on the key aspects and the main objectives of his potential business. This target will be maintained through the creation of an effective operating system which is capable to facilitate any kind of transactions amongst all the relevant stakeholders, such as the community, customers, employers, employees, volunteers, board, funders, or even investors.
Accordingly, a valuable social business plan articulates those concrete operations that eventually determine the key factors which are capable to lead to the social enterprise’s sustainability, including ways of detecting potential risks, ways of constructing consortiums and forming strong alliances, ways of magnetizing investors, ways of estimating any potential outcomes -including socially-focused and environmentally-oriented results- and even ways to prove that the social enterprise and its management team indeed function within the context of a complete business plan, a fact that demonstrates a sort of professionalism.
Nowadays, there are many business planning templates that could easily be found in the NET, which basically have been altered in a way that serves, not only regular types of businesses, but also specific forms, such as for instance, the social enterprises. Accordingly, it would have been preferable for the potential social entrepreneurs to combine elements deriving from a variety of templates in order to create a unique social business model that could ultimately be correlated with the final form of each social business.
After a thorough study of the already existing templates, one could conclude that all the social business plans have in common the following steps-pillars:
- To identify the core aim of the social enterprise;
- To design a concrete action plan within which all the side goals will be eventually achieved;
- To determine specific qualitative and quantitative criteria for the design, measurement and improvement of the performance of the potential social business;
- To take decisions related with the detection of the necessary resources, as well as for the enterprise’s costs and revenues.
The Social Business Model Canvas
One of the most popular social business models constitutes the widely-known ‘Social Business Model Canvas’, a template of which is being illustrated below:
Accordingly, within the paragraphs below we will attempt to analyse in-brief all the components of which the Social Business Canvas is being composed of.
Within this section, we are referring to two categories of individuals; on the one hand, our potential beneficiaries and, on the other hand, our potential customers. In terms of our potential beneficiaries, we have to answer the question ‘who is the beneficiary of our social enterprise’ and ‘who benefits from this intervention’? In other words, we have to decide for whom we are creating value. Accordingly, in order to maintain the generation of genuine social value we have to think about the customers to whom we are going to sell our product or service, thus answering to questions such as ‘who are going to be our most important customers’?
Type of intervention
After deciding on both the beneficiaries and customers, we have to decide on the type-format of our intervention. For instance, do we wish to offer a specific product to our customers, a service or something else?
This part is being composed of two separated parts: (i) The User Value Proposition which is basically referred to the beneficiaries and; (ii) The Customer Value Proposition which is inevitably correlated with the customers. This is a very important component within which we have to be able to give clear answers to specific questions. In relation to the beneficiaries, the questions to be answered are: ‘what kind of social impact are we going to create and in which ways are we going to show that we are indeed creating a social impact’ and in relation to the customers ‘what kind of value are we going to deliver to our potential customers’, ‘which ones of our customers’ problems are we going to solve’? Furthermore, ‘what bundles of products and services are we going to offer to each Customer Segment’ and ‘which of our customers’ needs are we satisfying’?
Under this part we have to think about the following: ‘What Key Resources do our value propositions require?’ As type of resources we have: (i) physical resources, (ii) intellectual resources, including brand patents, copyrights and data; (iii) human resources, including personnel, management team etc and; (iv) financial resources.
Partners and Key Stakeholders
Who are the essential groups you will need to involve in order to facilitate your programme?. Do they need special access or permissions? Specifically, you have to decide on both the key partners and the key suppliers, thus also identifying which Key Resources you could acquire from each partner/ stakeholder and what kind of Key Activities they could perform.
What program and non-program activities will your organization be carrying out? What Key Activities do our Value Propositions require? Under this part, we also have to take main decisions concerning significant factors, such as our distribution channels and our relationship with both the potential customers and the general network. For instance, what type of relationship does each of our Customer Segments expect us to establish and maintain with them? Which ones have we already established? How are they integrated with the rest of our business model? Through which Channels do our Customer Segments want to be reached and in which ways are we reaching them? How are our Channels going to be integrated and which ones work best? Which ones are most cost-efficient? How are we integrating them with customer routines?’.
The Cost Structuring is one of the most crucial issues while designing and creating your social enterprise, inasmuch under this section lies the question: ‘Which are our biggest expenditure areas?’ and ‘how do they alter while scaling up?’. Which Key Resources and Key Activities are the most expensive? Within the expenditure areas we have to take into consideration all the fixed costs, including salaries, rents and utilities, possible variable costs and interwoven terms such as the economies of scale and the economies of scope.
Inevitably, we have to take into account all the following factors which are strongly interwoven with the revenue streams. For what value are our customers really willing to pay? For what do they currently pay? How are they currently paying? How would they prefer to pay? How much does each Revenue Stream contribute to overall revenues?
Last but not least, we have to answer to the following crucial question: ‘Where do you plan to invest your profits in order to maintain the required social value?
- Developing a Social Enterprise Business Plan by Harvard Business School http://www.hbs.edu/newventurecompetition/Documents/SE-TrackDevelopingSEBusinessPlan2015.pdf
- For other social business plan templates, have a look at