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Making a Risk Management Plan for Your Business

It’s impossible to eliminate all business risk. Therefore, it’s essential for having a plan for its management. You’ll be developing one covering compliance, environmental, financial, operational and reputation risk management. These guidelines are for making a risk management plan for your business.

Developing Your Executive Summary

When you start the risk management plan with an executive summary, you’re breaking apart what it will be compromised of into easy to understand chunks. Even though this summary is the project’s high-level overview, the goal is describing the risk management plan’s approach and scope. In doing so, you’re informing all stakeholders regarding what to expect when they’re reviewing these plans so that they can set their expectations appropriately.

Who Are the Stakeholders and What Potential Problems Need Identifying?

During this phase of making the risk management plan, you’re going to need to have a team meeting. Every member of the team must be vocal regarding what they believe could be potential problems or risks. Stakeholders should also be involved in this meeting as well to help you collect ideas regarding what could become a potential risk. All who are participating should look at past projects, what went wrong, what is going wrong in current projects and what everyone hopes to achieve from what they learned from these experiences. During this session, you’ll be creating a sample risk management plan that begins to outline risk management standards and risk management strategies.

Evaluate the Potential Risks Identified

A myriad of internal and external sources can pose as risks including commercial, management and technical, for example. When you’re identifying what these potential risks are and have your list complete, the next step is organizing it according to importance and likelihood. Categorize each risk according to how it could impact your project. For example, does the risk threaten to throw off timelines or budgets? Using a risk breakdown structure is an effective way to help ensure all potential risks are effectively categorized and considered. Use of this risk management plan template keeps everything organized and paints a clear picture of everything you’re identifying.

Assign Ownership and Create Responses

It’s essential to ensure a team member is overseeing each potential risk. That way, they can jump into action should an issue occur. Those who are assigned a risk, as well as the project manager, should work as a team to develop responses before problems arise. That way, if there are issues, the person overseeing the risk can refer to the response that was predetermined.

Have a System for Monitoring

Having effective risk management companies plans includes having a system for monitoring. It’s not wise to develop a security risk management or compliance risk management plan, for example, without having a system for monitoring. What this means is there’s a system for monitoring in place to ensure risk doesn’t occur until the project is finished. In doing so, you’re ensuring no new risks will potentially surface. If one does, like during the IT risk management process, for example, your team will know how to react.


business plan for social enterprise example

Writing a Business Plan

business plan for social enterprise example

While it may be tempting to put off, creating a business plan is an essential part of starting your own business. Plans and proposals should be put in a clear format making it easy for potential investors to understand. Because every company has a different goal and product or service to offer, there are business plan templates readily available to help you get on the right track. Many of these templates can be adapted for any company. In general, a business plan writing guide will recommend that the following sections be incorporated into your plan.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is the first section that business plans open with, but is often the last section to actually be written as it’s the most difficult to write. The executive summary is a summary of the overall plan that highlights the key points and gives the reader an idea of what lies ahead in the document. It should include areas such as the business opportunity, target market, marketing and sales strategy, competition, the summary of the financial plan, staff members and a summary of how the plan will be implemented. This section needs to be extremely clear, concise and engaging as you don’t want the reader to push your hard work aside.

Company Description

The company description follows the executive summary and should cover all the details about the company itself. For example, if you are writing a business plan for an internet café, you would want to include the name of the company, where the café would be located, who the main team members involved are and why, how large the company is, who the target market for the internet cafe is, what type of business structure the café is, such as LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, what the internet café business mission and vision statements are, and what the business’s short-term objectives are.

Services and Products

This is the exciting part of the plan where you get to explain what new and improved services or products you are offering. On top of describing the product or service itself, include in the plan what is currently in the market in this area, what problems there are in this area and how your product is the solution. For example, in a business plan for a food truck, perhaps there are numerous other food trucks in the area, but they are all fast –food style and unhealthy so, you want to introduce fast food that serves only organic and fresh ingredients every day. This is where you can also list your price points and future products or services you anticipate.

Market Analysis

The market analysis section will take time to write and research as a lot of effort and research need to go into it. Here is where you have the opportunity to describe what trends are showing up, what the growth rate in this sector looks like, what the current size of this industry is and who your target audience is. A cleaning business plan, for example, may include how this sector has been growing by 10% every year due to an increase in large businesses being built in the city.

Organization and Management

Marketing and sales are the part of the business plan where you explain how you will attract and retain clients. How are you reaching your target customers and what incentives do you offer that will keep them coming back? For a dry cleaner business plan, perhaps if they refer customers, they will get 10% off their next visit. In addition, you may want to explain what needs to be done in order for the business to be profitable. This is a great way of showing that you are conscious about what clear steps need to be taken to make a business successful.

Financial Projections & Appendix

The financial business plan section can be a tricky one to write as it is based on projections. Usually what is included is the short-term projection, which is a year broken down by month and should include start-up permits, equipment, and licenses that are required. This is followed by a three-year projection broken down by year and many often write a five-year projection, but this does not need to be included in the business plan.

The appendix is the last section and contains all the supporting documents and/or required material. This often includes resumes of those involved in the company, letters of reference, product pictures and credit histories. Keep in mind that your business plan is always in development and should be adjusted regularly as your business grows and changes.


business plan for social enterprise example

Social Enterprise Business Plan

A social enterprise is an activity of a nonprofit that employs entrepreneurial, market-driven strategies for earned income in support of its mission. This outline for a social enterprise business plan is a guide for research, planning, and writing a business plan for nonprofit social enterprises.

A social enterprise is an activity of a nonprofit that employs entrepreneurial, market-driven strategies for earned income in support of their mission. Business plans are a common tool for entrepreneurs when starting or growing a business enterprise. For nonprofits that are starting or growing a social enterprise as a part of their program activities, developing a business plan is an essential step. While social enterprise business plans address all of the questions needed for any business, nonprofits also need to consider the alignment with mission, organizational background and structure, and evaluation of both financial and social impact.

This outline for a business plan is a guide for research, planning, and writing a business plan for nonprofit social enterprises. The sections below are provided as a roadmap for the plan. Most business plans include each of these sections, though the length and amount of detail will vary depending on the nature of the enterprise, the complexity of the organization, and the purpose and audience for the plan.

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary provides the most important information for readers that need to understand and support the concept but not necessarily know the detailed plans. This is usually written last.

A social enterprise of a nonprofit organization may contribute directly to achieving mission; may be complementary or supportive of mission; or may be unrelated to mission (with primarily financial goals). The alignment to mission is a critical question.

Background and Structure

This section summarizes the organization’s history and programs and how the enterprise will fit in to the larger organization.

Most social enterprises operate as an activity or program within the nonprofit, though some are legally structured as a separate nonprofit, a for-profit subsidiary, or an independent organization.

Form should follow function and the legal structure should support the purpose and activities of the enterprise. Advice from an expert attorney may be needed.

Market Analysis

The market analysis is the heart of the business plan and 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 a gap and demand in the market. No amount of mission or commitment will overcome a deficiency in market knowledge and a bona fide demand for the product or service.

Competitive Analysis

This section describes the competitors, both nonprofit and for-profit, and the value proposition, or market advantage, of the proposed business.


This section is 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.

Marketing and Sales

This section will describe how the organization will reach the target market and turn those prospects into paying customer.

This is the “how to” section, describing the creation and delivery of the business’ product or service.

Evaluation and Assessment

Most for-profit businesses measure their success by the financial results. Social enterprises have a double bottom line (or a triple bottom line.) This section describes the factors that will be evaluated to assess the success of each aspect of the enterprise.

Financial Plan and Projections

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

Social Enterprise Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

social enterprise business plan template

Social Enterprise Business Plan

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 500 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their social enterprise businesses. On this page, we will first give you some background information with regards to the importance of business planning. We will then go through a social enterprise business plan template step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your social enterprise business as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

Why You Need a Business Plan

If you’re looking to start a social enterprise business, or grow your existing social enterprise business, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your social enterprise business in order to improve your chances of success. Your social enterprise business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.

Sources of Funding for Social Enterprise Businesses

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for a social enterprise business are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Personal savings and bank loans are the most common funding paths for social enterprise businesses.

How to Write a Business Plan for a Social Enterprise

If you want to start a social enterprise business or expand your current one, you need a business plan. Below are links to each section of your social enterprise business plan template:

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of social enterprise business you are operating and the status. For example, are you a startup, do you have a social enterprise business that you would like to grow, or are you operating social enterprise businesses in multiple markets?

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. For example, give a brief overview of the social enterprise industry. Discuss the type of social enterprise business you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers. Provide a snapshot of your marketing plan. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.

Company Analysis

In your company analysis, you will detail the type of social enterprise business you are operating.

For example, you might operate one of the following types of social enterprise businesses:

In addition to explaining the type of social enterprise business you will operate, the Company Analysis section of your business plan needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to question such as:

Industry Analysis

In your industry analysis, you need to provide an overview of the social enterprise industry.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the social enterprise industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating. 

Secondly, market research can improve your strategy, particularly if your research identifies market trends.

The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your social enterprise business plan:

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your social enterprise business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments:non-profits, individuals, social causes, etc.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of social enterprise business you operate. Clearly, social causes would respond to different marketing promotions than individuals needing financial assistance, for example.

Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, include a discussion of the ages, genders, locations and income levels of the customers you seek to serve.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.

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Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are other social enterprise companies. 

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t direct competitors. This includes social enterprise companies such as brand awareness companies, community organizations, government programs, etc.

With regards to direct competition, you want to describe the other social enterprises with which you compete. Most likely, your direct competitors will be social enterprise businesses located very close to your location.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a social enterprise business plan, your marketing plan should include the following:

Product : In the product section, you should reiterate the type of social enterprise company that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific products you will be offering. For example, in addition to social enterprise services, will you provide access to funding, marketing, counseling, and/or brand awareness, and any other services?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your marketing plan, you are presenting the services you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the location of your social enterprise company. Document your location and mention how the location will impact your success. For example, is your social enterprise business located near an office complex, a university, an urban setting, or a busy neighborhood, etc. Discuss how your location might be the ideal location for your customers.

Promotions : The final part of your social enterprise marketing plan is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your social enterprise business, including communicating with clients, marketing, accounting, accounts payable, fundraising, and searching for grant opportunities.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to obtain your XXth client, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your social enterprise business to a new location.

Management Team

To demonstrate your social enterprise business’ ability to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company. 

Ideally you and/or your team members have direct experience in managing social enterprises. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act like mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in managing a social enterprise business or are connected to a wide network of professional organizations that frequently tend to donate to various causes.

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements.

Income Statement : an income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you take on one new service at a time or multiple services ? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets : Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your social enterprise business, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement : Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and make sure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt. 

In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a social enterprise business:

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your social enterprise outline of services, types of customer and/or cause you will be targeting, and the areas your social enterprise business will serve.

Putting together a business plan for your social enterprise business is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will really understand the social enterprise industry, your competition, and your customers. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful social enterprise business.

Social Enterprise Business Plan FAQs

What is the easiest way to complete my social enterprise business plan.

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily complete your Social Enterprise Business Plan.

What is the Goal of a Business Plan's Executive Summary?

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of social enterprise business you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup, do you have a social enterprise business that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of social enterprise businesses?

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your Social Enterprise business plan?

OR, Let Us Develop Your Plan For You

Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies who have gone on to achieve tremendous success.

Click here to hire someone to write a business plan for you from Growthink’s team.  

Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

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business plan for social enterprise example

Business plans for social enterprises (SE) and social businesses

Writing a business plan helps to ensure you focus on the core of your business. You must concentrate on key deliverables in a resource-constrained organization and communicate effectively with your stakeholders, including your funders or investors, customers, community, board, employees and volunteers.

The value of social enterprise business planning

Business planning will help any social enterprise (SE) or social purpose business (SPB) to:

In a business plan, you must clearly articulate:

Sample business plan templates

Many business plan templates exist in the public domain, including this one .

The elements are best used as prompts by social entrepreneurs to build their own plan, assessing along the way whether or not the question (or element) is relevant for the Social Enterprise or the social business.

Social enterprise business plans versus non-profit plans

Description of the business/mission statement.

The social mission and the importance of meeting both the financial and social goals should be discussed in this section.

Management and organization

Financing the capacity of the organization is as important as supporting the programs. Include an assessment of the current organization, planned additions and/or changes as well as the cost of building the team’s capacity in order to achieve the projected growth. Demonstrate that the staff has both programmatic and business skills.

Market assessment and marketing plan

The plan should focus on delivering market-driven products or services as opposed to program-driven products or services to the target customer .

You will also need to articulate how to promote your social objectives along with the product and service.  Partnerships and collaborations extend the reach of the social venture.  Highlight your partnership strategy in this section.

Your marketing plan includes the strategies and tactics to reach your customers, partners and the community.  Outline the public relations, media relations, and advertising that will be required to meet your objectives. The marketing plan should be linked in with your financial plan and your overall strategy.

A solid financial position will allow you to pursue your mission with flexibility and high-quality service, beyond mere stability.  Investors must feel confident their investment will be used effectively to achieve both the social mission and financial results that will enable your organization to thrive and achieve continued growth.

The financial plan provides the framework for social entrepreneurs to forecast the resources they need to create and sustain social and economic value. Commercial entrepreneurs prepare business plans to show why they need money and how they will use it.  Social entrepreneurs should use the same approach and not worry about the limited resources currently available.

Social Enterprise Investors

Investors and funders alike want to know the cost to develop, start up, offer and deliver services or products, whether or not any one user or payer is willing to cover it. When interacting with potential funders or investors, you need a detailed budget and projection of required outside investment tied in with a plan to reach the desired market position.

Investors want returns, typically a blend of financial and social. Your plan must describe the potential “return” on investment for investors and the desired social outcomes, and provide a framework for assessing social performance .

Remember that a social purpose business is similar to any other for-profit business, but the organization will likely raise financing from investors who are interested in a double bottom line. Social enterprises in the non-profit environment will typically raise funding from traditional fundraising, loans and other forms of social finance.

Dees, J.G., Emerson, J., & Economy, P. (2001).  Enterprising Nonprofits: A Toolkit for Social Entrepreneurs . Toronto: John Wiley & Sons.

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business plan for social enterprise example

Social Enterprise Business Plan Template

A social enterprise is a business that aims to achieve a particular public or community mission (social, environmental, cultural or economic), and reinvests the majority of its profits into achieving that mission. This template can be used to write a business plan for a social enterprise that describes both the positive impact of the social enterprise and the plan to make it a viable business.

Download the Social Enterprise Business Plan template

business plan for social enterprise example

This template is appropriate when:

This template is NOT appropriate when:

The Stakeholder Analysis Matrix Template by  tools4dev  is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License . All other content is  © tools4dev .

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Writing your first business plan

Wh y do you need a business plan .

A business plan will help you to clarify your idea, identify challenges and allow you to monitor the progress you’re making. Your business plan is not a static document, it is something you should revisit and update as your organisation grows.

” A goal without a plan is just a wish” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Putting pen to paper

Writing a business plan may seem daunting, but you’ll probably find that writing down your idea will bring clarity and focus to what you are looking to achieve as a social entrepreneur.

Your business plan should demonstrate that your idea is well thought through and sustainable in the long-term. As a start-up you will find that funders, investors and stakeholders will request to see your business plan. Once you have your plan on paper it will be quick for you to pull together the information requested by funders or investors.

“The best business plans are straightforward documents that spell out the who, what, where, why, and how much.” Paula Nelson

What to include in your business plan

When you are writing your first business plan you should aim to answer the following questions:

What are you offering to your beneficiaries and customers? This is sometimes referred to as ‘value proposition.’

Who is going to buy your product or service?

Who will benefit from what you’re doing? For a social organisation your beneficiaries and customers may be different groups, so it’s important to think about what you are offering to each of them.

How will you market yourself to customers and beneficiaries? Now you know who they are, how do you plan to reach them?

Who are your competitors? How does your organisation differ? Take time to think about what they do well and learn from them, it’s unlikely your idea has never been done before so use others experience as a tool for learning.

What do you need to do to achieve your objectives? Breaking down things into step by step actions will make your idea seem more achievable, it will also prevent you from getting distracted.

What resources you will need to make this happen – people, premises, materials? Try to be realistic. When you are first starting out you might be able to beg, steal and borrow but if you want to become sustainable you need to be realistic about the resources you need.

What are people willing to pay for your services? Be realistic with how many sales you are likely to make and try to base this on evidence where possible.

Once you know what resources you require, you need to work out how much will they cost you. The cost of people, equipment and premises all need to be accounted for.

Will you break-even or have a profit? If you have a profit what you will do with it? You might not make a profit in your first year but you need to have an idea of when and how you will become financially sustainable.

How to structure your business plan

Once you’ve written your first business plan ask for feedback, then listen to the feedback you’ve receive. Be open to constructive comments and willing to add detail where it is needed.

Don’t forget to review your business plan regularly (don’t lock it away in a drawer!) Use your business plan to monitor your progress and keep you working towards your goals:

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business plan for social enterprise example

business plan for social enterprise example

Latest News

Social enterprise business plan: templates and examples.

7 August 2021

A social enterprise is an organisation that exists to address a social need. Think of it as a cross between a business and a charity. Like a business, a social enterprise sells products or services in exchange for cash. But like a charity, instead of using these profits to enrich shareholders, a social enterprise will instead channel them into schemes to help them achieve their social objectives.

How does a social enterprise work? There’s more than one way to run this type of organisation. For more information, read our complete guide to the various different social enterprise business models .

If you’ve got an idea for a social enterprise, you can also read our step-by-step guide to setting one up .

To get your social enterprise off the ground, you’ll need a source of funding. There are many grants and opportunities out there, and we have a guide to finding grants that works for you .

Do I Need a Business Plan for a Social Enterprise?

For your social enterprise funding applications to be successful, you’ll need a social enterprise business plan. In this post, we’ll explain what a business plan is, and link you to numerous templates that’ll help you put a solid plan together for your big idea.

What is a Social Enterprise Business Plan?

Your social enterprise business plan essentially outlines:

Let’s explore the various sections you’ll need to include in your business plan, and the sort of information you’ll have to include.

How to Write a Social Enterprise Business Plan

1. executive summary.

This is where you outline, as succinctly as possible, who you are and what you want to do. It’s a proof of concept, something potential investors can skim over to get a good idea of your goals before they delve into the details.

Although your executive summary should open your social enterprise business plan, it’s a good idea to write it last, when you’ll have a better understanding of the market, your competitors, and other aspects of your plan.

The executive summary should include:

2. Your Mission Statement

This is where you expand upon the overview you gave in your executive summary.

Talk about the problem you want to address, and how you want to address it. Your focus is upon detailing how aligned your organisation will be with your mission. As we explored when we discussed the different type of social enterprise business models , some social enterprises help their beneficiaries directly, while others have a less direct relationship.

For example, The Big Issue exists to help the homeless, and they help them directly through paying them to distribute their magazines. The Big Issue are therefore directly aligned with their mission: Their business operations support their goals, and vice versa.

But on the other hand, consider TOMS Shoes , a social enterprise that exists to donate shoes to children in developing countries. To fund this enterprise, they sell shoes to customers in developed countries. And for every pair of shoes they sell, they donate another pair to their beneficiaries.

So when explaining your mission statement, take the time to explain how aligned your social enterprise will be with your goals.

3. Your Business Structure and Operations

This might prove to be the longest section of your social enterprise business plan. Detail how your social enterprise is structured, with a list of all the roles that will exist in your business, and the key responsibilities of each one.

This will demonstrate that you know what you’re doing, and that you’ll make good use of your resources. If you’re applying for funding, outlining your business structure might also help you justify your capital requirements. All the people you need to achieve your goals will need paying, of course!

In terms of your wider operations, you need to explain how you’ll deliver your core products and services, and how you’ll support your beneficiaries. So beyond your management structure and staffing plan, think about your supply chain, your material costs, and your provisions for customer services and support. You can also talk about the facilities you’ll need, along with any specialist equipment, all while accounting for future growth and improvements.

4. Market Analysis and Competitor Analysis

Who are your target customers, and how do you intend to meet their needs? And who are your main competitors, and how will your products or services stand out from the competition?

This section of your social enterprise business plan might include at least one SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for “Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat.” So consider any recent or emerging changes in your sector or industry, as well as any unmet needs that you intend to provide.

5. Products and Services

What specific products and services do you intend to sell? Who’s the target customer for each, and what sort of market demands will each one meet?

There’s no need to talk about specifics at this stage, such as pricing and the supply chain. But you could talk about any future products or services you wish to provide, and how these will be aligned with your goals.

6. Marketing and Sales

How will you reach your target market? How will you convert any prospects into paying customers, and how might these paying customers become loyal, repeat customers?

At this point you’ll have already outlined your social enterprise’s business structure, and the various roles that will exist within your organisation. You’ll have also outlined the key responsibilities of each role. So readers at this point might already be aware that you’ll have a dedicated marketing professional on your payroll, and of the key duties you’ll expect them to perform.

But this section of your social enterprise business plan will allow you to go into specifics about your marketing plan. Which products will you launch first, and how will you introduce them to the market? Which channels will you use, and what sort of messages will you put out on them? Are there any special events, or awareness days, that you can use to spread your word and kindle interest in your products, services and cause?

At this stage you can also include a brief sales forecast. Taking into account all of your expenses, and the various strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the market, how much do you expect to make in your first year of business? And given your plans and your projected growth, how much do you expect to make in your second, third, fourth and fifth years of business?

7. Measuring Your Success

An ordinary business can measure its success by its bottom line. If the profits are on the rise, then the shareholders are happy, and thus everyone’s happy.

But a social enterprise is no ordinary business. Profits matter, of course. But to remain compliant , you’ll also have to demonstrate how you’re meeting your social goals. So how will you measure success?

For TOMS Shoes, who we mentioned earlier, measuring success must be easy. For every pair of shoes they sell, they donate another pair to a child in a developing country. So they can measure their success by simply counting the number of shoes they sell and, as such, the number they’ve been able to donate.

Similarly, Baron Fig is a social enterprise that sells notebooks, and for each notebook they sell, they plant a tree. They can count the number of notebooks they’ve sold to measure their profits, and count the number of trees they’ve planted to measure their social impact.

Some social enterprises operate as social firms, providing employment opportunities to people who might not otherwise find work. A good example of this is the Big Issue, who we mentioned above. Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant is another example. They trained homeless people, ex-offenders, disadvantaged youth and others to work as chefs in their restaurant.

How might Fifteen Restaurant have measured success? On one level, just like any other restaurant – through assessing profit margins and customer satisfaction scores. But the Fifteen Restaurant could also consider every person they employed as a person who might otherwise have been in prison, on the streets, or otherwise struggling. So every person in full or part-time employment for Fifteen Restaurant could be considered a measure of success.

So what’s your social enterprise’s goal, and how will you know that you’re working towards achieving it? This part of your social enterprise business plan is essentially your opportunity to make it clear that your idea has potential.

8. Financial Considerations

Finally, the numbers. For at least the first three years of your operations, outline your revenue projections and your key expenses. This is also where you can outline your start-up costs. How much will you need to get everything off the ground, from staffing, to facilities, to production, to sales and marketing?

Talk about your intended sources of funding , and include a cash flow projection .

Remember: The more accurate you are about your expenses, and the more realistic you are about your revenue projections, then the more likely potential investors are to take your business plan seriously, and invest.

Social Enterprise Business Plan Templates

Many places online provide free social enterprise business plan templates. Not all of these follow the structure we’ve suggested above, and some of them are from the US, where there’s different legislation for social enterprises than in the UK. Nonetheless, by following our guide and any one of these templates, you should be able to put a social enterprise business plan together that will tick every box:

Additional Support for Social Enterprises

If you’re setting up a social enterprise, writing your business plan should make it clear just how risky this business can be.

So to help you manage the risks, Worcester-based Hazelton Mountford offer specialist social enterprise insurance . It will cover your unique requirements as a not-for-profit business, ensuring you can support your cause with total peace of mind.

business plan for social enterprise example

What Is a Social Enterprise?

business plan for social enterprise example

The popular ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s is a certified B corporation—a type of social enterprise.

This article is part of both our Nonprofit Business Startup Guide and our Business Startup Guide —curated lists of great articles that will get you up and running in no time!

A social enterprise is defined by its mission, specifically that it makes a positive contribution to a social cause. Because of this, the structure of a social enterprise can vary. Nonprofits are certainly social enterprises, but many for-profit companies fall into this category by making the conscious decision to have their focus be an altruistic cause, rather than the maximization of profits. Of course, there are also ways to form both a for-profit and a nonprofit arm of the same venture. In terms of legal structure, social enterprises have many options.

The Social Enterprise Alliance offers this definition:

“In its early days, the social enterprise movement was identified mainly with nonprofits that used business models and earned income strategies to pursue their mission. Today, it also encompasses for-profits whose driving purpose is social. Mission is primary and fundamental; organizational form is a strategic question of what will best advance the social mission.”

What does a social enterprise look like?

An excellent example of a social enterprise is The Empowerment Plan —an organization that hires people currently living in homeless shelters to create a combination winter coat, sleeping bag, and over-the-shoulder bag, which is then distributed to the homeless of Detroit free of charge. This incorporates a socially beneficial mission with a manufacturing arm that produces a useful product for its targeted demographic, while also directly providing employment to members of that demographic.

According to the Harvard Business Review,  in most U.S. states for-profit companies can accept donations and nonprofit companies earn revenue, which dispels the myths that a nonprofit can’t make money, or a for-profit venture would miss out on donations. They also note that after the 2007 recession—when things looked grim for the U.S. economy in general—U.S. charitable giving fell by only 10 percent. Ultimately, you can use either structure, or decide to form separate entities that serve the same cause in different ways, working together.

A woman works in a Nigerian stove factory (via

A woman works in a Nigerian stove factory (via

One social enterprise that embodies this model is InStove, an organization that sustainably makes the world’s most efficient stove, for use primarily in developing nations where fossil fuels and electricity are scarce, and walking long distances to gather wood can be dangerous. Here in the U.S. it is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit, but because of its dedication to sustainability, it is now working with local communities to form separate stove manufacturing factories in their countries. InStove contributes both the technology for efficient stoves, and the means to create sustainable jobs.

Overall, the consensus among the experts is that the structure of the social enterprise should be decided by what will best serve the organization, facilitate its charitable mission, and, of course, keep it sustainable. “Our best chance to make the world better is to agree that the choice among corporate structures should be made entirely in service of social impact,” says Rich Leimsider, the Vice President of Fellowship Programs at Echoing Green, a nonprofit that invests with social entrepreneurs.

Let’s explore some popular structures used for social enterprise:

Nonprofits have clear social missions and are not profit-driven. They have to meet specific legal requirements for their organizational structure, and demonstrate the transparency of their funding. This of course does not mean that nonprofits are able to generate revenue to build a sustainable venture, but it does mean that any surplus will be put right back in the coffers. In the United States, most nonprofits use the 501(c)(3) structure, which allows the organization to be tax exempt, and requires regular reporting to the IRS. Each U.S. state has a State Charity Official that can be contacted for more information.

For-Profit Entities:

L3cs, or low-profit limited liability company.

L3Cs, or Low-Profit Limited Liability Companies, are one form of legal structure in the U.S. that social enterprises can take. An L3C is a variation on an LLC,  essentially a hybrid form of a nonprofit and for-profit company. The organization is designed so that it can function generally as an LLC would, while legally accepting foundation grants because of the organization’s socially beneficial goals. L3Cs were first formed in 2008, and are currently only legal in Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming, as well as the federal jurisdictions of the Crow Indian Nation of Montana, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe.


Outdoor wear company Patagonia is a certified B corp.

B corps are corporations that are for-profit, but go through a certification process administered by the independent third party nonprofit B Lab , to be able to publicly demonstrate that their business is focused on a social mission. You can view the steps of the certification process here.  Certification as a B Corp is available globally, and there are currently certified B corps in 34 countries worldwide.

Benefit Corporations

A Benefit Corporation is a legal structure for a business, as an L3C or LLC is. Benefit Corporations do not need to be certified, but they are required to make publicly available their performance on their social missions as compared to a third party standard. The basic idea behind a Benefit Corporation is that it is a for-profit, non-tax exempt entity that is legally able to emphasize it’s stated social or environmental goals ahead of maximizing profits for shareholders.

Maryland was the first U.S. state to adopt this structure in 2010. Currently this structure is available in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington D.C., with many more states pending legislation.

What about the rest of us?

The world is full of opportunities to make a positive impact. Social enterprises are really defined by their mission and their accomplishments, rather than their legal structure, so realistically any business can choose to become socially-minded and transparent, and dedicate themselves toward working for the common good. The Huffington Post reports that as of 2012, 31 percent of those defining themselves as social enterprises were LLCs. Some business leaders make the argument that any good business can be a social enterprise.

Social enterprise: Building a better future

“The definition [of success] has expanded to include contributing something to the world.”

To many prominent entrepreneurs and impact-focused investors, socially-minded businesses are the direction of the future. Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software, describes feeling that “the underlying story of a business, the people behind it, and its values, these all matter more now than they used to.” Blake Mycoskie, CEO of the social enterprise Tom’s Shoes,  says that he speaks with entrepreneurs and young people across the US, and he’s noticing a change in opinion on what constitutes success in the modern, globally interconnected world. “The definition has expanded to include contributing something to the world and living and working on one’s own terms,” Mycoskie says.

Given that of all existing U.S. social enterprises, 60 percent were formed after 2006, they just might be onto something.

Related Articles on Bplans:

Further Recommended Reading:


Written by the founder of social enterprise Tom’s Shoes, this book is full of tips for making a difference with your business.


This site is a wealth of information about B Corporations, from details on who approves the certification to the steps of the process and related legislation, including tips for international corporations and those operating entirely outside of the United States.


A resource for those looking to start social enterprises in the United Kingdom.

Do you think the definition of success is expanding to include social entrepreneurship? As the world becomes ever more interconnected, do businesses have a responsibility to do good? Share your thoughts in the comments!

AvatarAngelique O'Rourke

Angelique O'Rourke

Artistic + intellectual pursuits. Social justice. Actress. Model. Musician. Eugene // Portland.

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Business Plan Writing

business plan for social enterprise example

9 Steps to Start-up

9 Steps to Start a Small Business Step 1 Entrepreneur /Team Resources Step 2 Product or Services Step 3 Description of the Market Step 4 Sales and Marketing Step 5 Organising your Company Step 6 Business Development Step 7 Budgets Step 8 Financing Step 9 Business Concept Business Plan Apps Business Plan Examples - lots of inspiration Business Plan for Women Entrepreneurs Business Plan in Arabic Download Business Plan templates Graphic design business plan Example IT Business Plan - sample Short Business Plan - Mini Business Plan Simple business plan template Social Enterprise Business Plan Template business plan

Business Plan Issues

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Entrepreneurship Education

Entrepreneurship concept Entrepreneurship context Entrepreneurship Education Entrepreneurship Power Point Free Entrepreneurship Text Book Mocuba Entrepreneurial Experience Problem Based Learning Teachers Download Center Training Module Specifications What is an entrepreneur and entrepreneurship?

business plan for social enterprise example

Financing Start-up

Be sure to have Sufficient Cash Business Plan Budgets Calculate turnover and sales Cash Flow Budget - inspiring template to download Contribution Margin - Example Establishing Budget Example of an Operating Budget Financing Business Start Funding Capital Investors and Others Operating Budget Personal Source of Financing Sourcing from Banks

business plan for social enterprise example

Organising the Company

Accountant Administrative Routines Bank Account for your Biz Business Insurance How do build an advisory board Legal Business Structure Privacy Policy Staff Policy

business plan for social enterprise example

Sales and Marketing

Advertisement Online and Offline Business Card and Logo Business-to-Business Market Competitive Parameters Consumers Distributors and Sales Channels FAB Model: Features - Advantages - Benefits How to Network How to Open a Webshop How to promote a store Make a Sales Strategy Make a Website Market Description Market Research Marketing Plan Presentation Folders Reception at Business Start Sales Letter - AIDA Model Sales Management Who are your Competitors

business plan for social enterprise example

The Person Behind

4 Types of Entrepreneurs - which are you? Coaching to start a small business Corporate Social Responsibility - CSR Global Compact How to create a company Start Business From Nothing Women Entrepreneurs

business plan for social enterprise example

Your Product / Service

Be Specific About Your Product Business Canvas Business Policy Different from your competitors? Estimating Cost How Much Stock Do You Need How to Make an Elevator Pitch Pricing - Focus on Expenses Pricing - Market in Focus Product Lifespan Realistic Number of Customers Value for Your Customer What is a business model

Manage Your Business

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Close your Business

Bank Indebtedness Closing a Business Financial Assessment Financial Control - Danger Signals

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Help to Take Action

Contribution Margen or Gross Profit Contribution Ratio vs Markup Credit Sale Fixed Costs / Overhead Expenses Gross Profit - how to act on it Influence on Profits Keep Control Reduce Stock SWOT Analysis + PO Terms of Sales and Delivery The Art of Consultancy

business plan for social enterprise example

Principles in Accounting

Account Plan - Chart of Accounts Adding Vouchers Depreciation Double-entry Bookkeeping Example of an Account Plan Invoice - How to Issue one Mis-entry in the books Re-posting a Voucher Vouchers Who is Able to Do The Accounts?

Safeguarding Your Assets

Cash Control Delegated Authority Four Ways of Safeguarding Cash Physical Control Reconciliation Stock Registration

business plan for social enterprise example

Understand Financial Info

Accountability and Management Financial System - Illustrated Profit and Loss Statement The Assets The Balance Statement The Liabilities Understanding the Assets Understanding the Liabilities What is a Financial Statement

What is Accountancy?

Accountability Accountancy Step by Step Accounting on a computer Administration Made Easy Computer Bookkeeping? IT Systems Why Accounting

business plan for social enterprise example

Social Enterprise Business Plan

A social enterprise business plan describes the basis for a social enterprise

A business plan is a description of the social and economic activities you and your organization want to perform. A social enterprise has many stakeholders and the business plan is a good platform for dialogue with all parties.

Focus on the right things

Are you planning to start a social enterprise or reorganize your existing organization or association, you probably work with a lot of people, organizations and companies?

The social enterprise business plan is the document that gathers the threads from your preparation. It asks all the right questions so you are sure you have covered all the right aspects in your social enterprise.

Social enterprise business plan template

You can download a template for a social enterprise business plan. The template is a word document that asks 80 questions covering all vital aspects in a social enterprise.

Answer the questions and you will have a deep understanding of your new social enterprise. It does take time to write the business plan because many answers you have to investigate before you can answer them.

Content for social enterprise business plan

The template for the Social enterprise business plan is structured around these areas:

Read more about social enterprise from the English website Social enterprise UK

business plan for social enterprise example

business plan for social enterprise example

Search the Library

Social purpose business.

Are you starting a social purpose business? We’ve created this example business plan to help you get started.

If you’re thinking of starting a social purpose business you need a business plan. It puts in writing the details of how you’ll run your company from its name to marketing plans to how you’ll manage the money. It provides you a way to explain to others how your business is achieving social good.

To help you get started we’ve created a business plan example for a social purpose business. Click the ‘Download Tool’ button to gain access to the Word Document.

You can also find the same example in the Business Plan Writer , our free online tool that guides you through the process of starting your business. Just select “social purpose business” as your industry when you register.

Good luck and happy writing!

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business plan for social enterprise example


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