How to set up and manage a social enterprise

The Community Support team can offer a range of skills and experience to support new and existing groups and organisations looking to set up in Telford and Wrekin as a social enterprise.

From getting the basics right through to the more complicated steps of developing your social enterprise, there are a range of ways in which we can help you to access the right support.

A social enterprise is defined (by Government) as 'a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners'.

To put more simply, any profit the business makes is reinvested into the business/community. You can find more information on the GOV.UK website.

There are many different websites available to help you consider what sort of social enterprise you would like to set up. The Social Enterprise UK guide is a good place to start.

Every social enterprise is there trying to make a difference to a community, to particular individuals and/or the world as a whole. This is measured by what’s referred to as ‘social impact’, which is about the difference that this activity or service has made to people/society, economic or environmental outcomes - things that are not always measured in the same ways that financial value is. Social Enterprise UK explains this in more detail.

There are many different legal structures you can use when setting up a social enterprise, it all depends on what you want to do and who will benefit from your enterprise.

When choosing your legal structure for your social enterprise you will need to look at:

  • the activities you are going to do
  • where your money will likely come from to support your enterprise
  • what governance might best suit your enterprise and how much control you might want
  • who else needs to be involved?
  • who are your potential customers and partners?

Start Your Social Enterprise by Social Enterprise UK has many good examples of legal structures.

Our toolkit to setting up a community group might also be helpful.

Your social mission sets out what your social enterprise aims to achieve. It helps you to make sure you are staying on track when planning your next steps. Your social mission needs to be included in your mission statement. It is always worth exploring what needs to be in your mission statement from the very beginning as you will be referring back to this on regular occasions, such as when writing your constitution, terms of reference, filling out legal documents etc. UnLtd offer some advice on how to develop this.

There are several reasons why you should write a business plan:

  • it provides a structured way of organising your thoughts and clarifying your ideas
  • it helps you set out your goals and spot any potential problems in achieving these
  • it gives you a clear strategy to follow especially when things get busy
  • it is often essential for securing external finance for your business (such as grants or start-up-loans)
  • it allows you to measure your progress as your business/enterprise develops
  • it ensures all of your team are working towards the same vision
  • most importantly it helps you plan for the future.

Examples of business plans: 

There are a range of different charities and organisations that offer grants and funding to social enterprises. Our website provides a comprehensive list of local and national funding and grants that could help you. The Marches Growth Hub Telford also provide advice on funding and grants.

To get your social enterprise off the ground you will need to identify who needs to know about it and how you will tell them. You will also need to think about the key messages that people need to know. This can help you to find people who may want to be involved and also use your business or product. NCVO offer some information on putting together a communications strategy. The Marches Growth Hub also offer some training in this area.

  • The Marches Growth Hub Telford & Wrekin - is situated at the University of Wolverhampton’s Telford Innovation Campus bringing together all national and local business support in one place.
  • Small Business Rate relief - Rate relief is available to reduce business rate bills for some small businesses.
  • FUSE and the BBO Project - offers people the chance to develop their own business/self-employment idea, to have a training, employment, work placement or volunteering opportunity within a small business or social enterprise.
  • Social Heart CIC – offers business consultancy, coaching, learning development, digital and social media strategy implementation and more to individuals, small businesses, social enterprises and charities, whether start-up or scale-up.
  • Community Catalysts - a social enterprise and Community Interest Company, launched in 2010 that works through local partners such as councils and CCGs to help local people establish small enterprises that focus on care and wellbeing.
  • Unltd - the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK and offers the largest such network in the world.
  • Power to Change is an independent charitable trust that helps to develop and support community businesses. They work with community businesses to revive local assets, protect the services people rely on, and address local needs.
  • i-se growing the social economy - iSE are the social enterprise experts providing development opportunities for social enterprises, community organisations and not for profits in Birmingham and beyond.
  • Telford CVS - is a local charity that works to support and collaborate with communities in Telford and Wrekin and Shropshire.
  • The Princes Trust - support for people aged 11-30.

Last updated: 4.10pm on Monday 7 October 2019

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