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Social Enterprise Business Skills

Setting up a social enterprise requires substantial advice, investment, and support.

Social Enterprises are business that trade to achieve a social purpose.  Success depends on two things:

  • An intimate understanding of the social problem and how it can be solved, and
  • Strong business skills and networks

Why strong business skills & networks

Social enterprises operate in all sectors of our economy – hospitality, health, maintenance, cleaning and many more.

Social enterprises must sell on the open market to customers, to generate trade and cover their costs.  Sustainability – and ongoing social impact – fundamentally relies on the enterprise’s ability to establish and manage the business.

What business skills?

Running a business requires a diverse set of skills from creative problem solving, to more concrete financial management and organisational development skills.  From our experience, social enterprises consistently require a focus on:

  • Business model development and testing
  • Financing modelling and financing strategy
  • Sales and marketing
  • Partnerships, sourcing and organisational development, and
  • Ongoing financial management

How to acquire business skills and networks?

Business skills and networks can be attained through:

  • Learning by doing. This can be a rapid way to acquire business skills.  However, the learning curve can be steep and – for some – too risky.
  • Formal education. Tertiary education, particularly more applied post graduate courses, will provide an all-round business grounding.  Cost and time commitment are considerations.

Programs/accelerators.  These are designed to provide for rapid skill and network acquisition, with a specific focus on your social enterprise idea.  They typically include; teaching, coaching and business mentor components.


Social Enterprise Business Tools

There are many excellent tools and templates to help you map out your social business model.

Many of these you can use independently and quickly such as Strategyzer’s business model canvas or the social lean canvas.