Builder


Introduction

The Social Enterprise Builder is a guide written for anyone wishing to understand more about social enterprise and how to test an idea for a social enterprise.


The Builder guides you through understanding social enterprise, idea generation and testing, all which underpins the future success of a social enterprise.

The Builder is structured in four stages. The first two stages are for anyone wishing to learn about social enterprise. The third stage is for those still looking for social enterprise ideas. The fourth is for those that have an idea and need to do pre-feasibility testing. In each section, you will find a number of downloadable worksheets and templates to help you develop your social enterprise idea and turn it into reality.

Stage 1: Understanding – Understanding social enterprise
Stage 2: Inspiring – Social enterprise case studies
Stage 3: Exploring – How to generate ideas
Stage 4: Focusing – Focusing and developing the idea

About The Builder

Social enterprises are organisations that trade to fulfil a social mission. This is a do-it-yourself guide for anyone thinking about social enterprise – whether you are simply curious or are intending to build a social enterprise yourself. If you are interested in applying for Social Traders’ Crunch, our capacity building program for social enterprises, we’ll look for evidence that you have completed these steps in The Builder.

In writing this guide, we hope to encourage the development of more social enterprises in Australia. That is why we have called this guide the Social Enterprise Builder: it is designed to help you understand what social enterprise is and the process of developing one. This is a step-by-step guide that provides a roadmap to plan and navigate the early stages of idea generation and testing and avoid pitfalls along the way. But you have to be in the driver’s seat.

This guide also draws upon the experience of seasoned social enterprise practitioners in Australia to give you practical advice from people who have travelled the same path.

A successful social enterprise marries your social purpose with a viable business. That is how this idea testing guide is different: it integrates the business and social objectives to help you get started on a successful social enterprise.

Who is it for?

This guide is written for anyone wishing to understand more about social enterprise and how to start one.  Volunteer and community organisations and social entrepreneurs looking to start a social enterprise will particularly benefit from this guide. It will also benefit corporate managers, government officials, students, investors and even seasoned business planners looking to gain a deeper understanding of what makes a social enterprise work.

You can enter at any point as long as you have done the background work required at that stage. If you are still searching for a social enterprise idea, this guide can help you to recognise a good idea when it comes along.

How to use this guide

The guide is structured in four stages. The first two stages are for anyone wishing to learn about social enterprise. The third stage is for those still looking for social enterprise ideas and the fourth stage is for those that have an idea and want to develop it into a social enterprise.

Stage 1: Understanding – Understanding social enterprise
Stage 2: Inspiring – Social enterprise case studies
Stage 3: Exploring – How to generate ideas
Stage 4: Focusing – Focusing and developing the idea

While we recommend that you use the guide in sequence, it is possible to enter and exit the guide at various points, particularly in stages 1, 3, or 4.

There are two important things to remember about using this guide:

  • Business planning is NOT a linear process. While the guide is structured in four stages, it is most likely that you will be moving forwards and backwards through the business planning process.
  • Business planning is a cumulative process. The activities and exercises that you’ll do in each section will be used to inform activities in future sections. In each section of the guide, you will find a number of downloadable worksheets and templates. We encourage you to download and complete each one, and keep a printed copy on file. It is a good idea to organise your worksheets to correspond to the sections presented in the guide.  You will be referring to them as you progress in your social enterprise building journey, so you will need to keep them organised and handy.
Why use the Social Enterprise Builder?

Planning takes time but reduces the headaches or even heartaches you might face later on: the disadvantages of going ahead without careful consideration outweigh the effort involved in planning.

Stop and reflect

At the end of each stage, you will be asked a series of questions to help you reflect on the realities and viability of your business. The checklist is designed not to dissuade you from starting up your business, but to better prepare you for success.

Case studies and anecdotes

Throughout the guide, you will find anecdotes from Australian social enterprises. We hope that their stories provide valuable insights that will help you better navigate your own social enterprise journey.