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.
What are the components of a business plan?
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 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
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
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.
How do I write my business plan?
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.
Don't rush it! -
Business plans will take time because there is a lot of information that
should be accurately and informatively conveyed. Think hard, have
thorough discussions with teammates, and continually revise in the early
stages. This will create a solid business plan that makes you think
through every aspect of the organization and includes all necessary
and/or relevant information.
Read Other Business Plans -
One of the best ways to become familiar with how to write a business
plan is to read a few and take notes. Another way to accomplish this is
to find someone who has already written a business plan before and ask
for their help.
Start Writing - You
can split this task between teammates or in any other way that works. As
you develop your business plan, make sure the following sections exist
or are covered at least covered.
Cover Sheet -
Title of who you are and that this is your business plan. Also may
contain your slogan.
Statement of Purpose -
This will change based on what your business plan is being written
for. Business plan competition? State what you are applying for and
why in this section.
Table of Contents -
Very useful for keeping the business plan organized.
The Social Enterprise - Should include the description of the
organization, the problem, your solution, marketing analysis,
competitive analysis, operating plan, organization management,
risks, and any insurance if necessary.
The Financials -
Should include any loan applications if they exist, capital
equipment and supply list, balance sheet, breakeven analysis (not as
important with a nonprofit), income projects with profit and loss
statements, a three-five year summary, cash flow analysis, (social)
return on investment, and a section that details all assumptions
that were made for the projections. When developing the income
projections, detail the first year by months and by quarters for the
rest of the years.
Supporting Documents -
This section is for any and all information that doesn't fit as
nicely into the business plan and should be included on a case by
case basis. This can include tax returns (both personal and for the
organization), personal financial statements, copy of proposed lease
or purchase agreement for building space, copy of licenses and other
legal documents, copy of resumes of all individuals involved, and
copies of letters of intent from suppliers, etc.
Get Feedback - Have
teammates, family, friends, or colleagues provide feedback for your
business plan, espeically if they have experience with business plans,
and find out how to incorporate that feedback effectively.
Review and Revise -
A business plan is never complete, and every six months to a year, the
organization should look over the business plan to see if they are on
track and/or see what kind of revisions should be made to update the
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.