When setting up your social enterprise, one of the most daunting things can be writing your business plan.
It needn’t be a scary task; in fact writing a business plan is simply just condensing your thoughts for your business into a clear and concise structure. It shows potential investors your vision and how you will make it a reality, and it will serve as a roadmap for the growth of your business. It’s an exciting journey!
1. Find a template that suits your business
Red Ochre has some great templates specifically for your social enterprise. If you’re a coffee shop, check out business plans for the catering industry. If you’re a fashion retailer, search online for business plans that match your needs. Business plans are anywhere between 5 - 20 pages, so aim to keep sections short as you complete your planning.
2. Write an executive summary
Your executive summary is a top line overview of your business plan; why you are setting up your enterprise, who you hope to help, and a general overview of your business structure. It can be written last or first; many people save it until last so they have a full plan written first and then they adjust it later. But it’s totally up to you.
3. About your social enterprise
You’ll need to explain clearly about what your social enterprise is, what type of business it is, and where you will sit in the market. Your enterprises legal status could also be mentioned here. Show that you have researched the market thoroughly and understand your audience and the problem you are solving. Use statistics and reports to supplement your business vision.
4. Delivering your product or service
This section is about how you will be delivering your product or service; in other words, the operational element of the business. Will you be involving suppliers? Will you be buying stock or leasing premises? Showing how you have carefully thought about the operational element of the business, its financial outlays and demands on your time will enable your business plan to be more robust. Here you could also outline how you are going to measure your impact for the social problem your business aims to solve.
5. People and Governance
This section involves all of the people involved in the running of the business; from yourself to any potential investors or those who have a legal stake in your enterprise. Detail the skills and expertise you all have, and why you’re expertly placed to run your social enterprise.
6. Money and financial control
A sound business plan includes an accurate financial forecast, based upon market research. It will be based on a monthly cash flow forecast, detailing all of your overheads and income, and also a three year projected forecast, based upon scaling the business over that time. Be upfront about all costs, even if you may need funding a couple of years down the line.
7. Next steps
This list is by no means exhaustive - there may be plenty more that you’d like to write about in your plan. Before you even begin to write your plan, a lot of research is needed. Take a look at other business plans and how they are structured. You might find that you do two or three drafts of a plan before it’s ready to show an investor. If you’d like to chat to someone face to face, a business adviser may be able to help you with structuring your plan.
Need more help? Unltd has more information on business planning for your social enterprise, as well as Forth Sector.