Tag Archives: Social Enterprise

6 Reasons You’ll Want To Attend This Year’s USD Legacy Entrepreneurship Conference

6 Reasons You’ll Want To Attend This Year’s USD Legacy Entrepreneurship Conference

On Thursday Oct 6 2016 The University of San Diego School of Business Administration and the Center for Peace and Commerce proudly present the annual USD Legacy Entrepreneurship Conference.

Here are some of TSG’s reasons why you’ll want to attend this annual event.

1. There is no cost to attend. It’s a very valuable and completely FREE event open to the community. You won’t find one like it! Space is limited and you’ll want to reserve your seat sooner than later. Sign up early to reserve your seat. Soak in as much insight as you can. Take advantage of this major local resource into the world of entrepreneurship, interaction and collaboration. In three hours you’ll hear from a diverse panel of thought leaders in the community.

2.The Financial Times recently ranked USD’s School of Business Administration’s MBA Program Number Three in the World for Entrepreneurship.
The esteemed ranking is based on criteria included the percentage of graduates who created their own company, the percentage of companies still operating at the end of 2014, whether it was their main source of income and how the school and the alumni network helped set things up.

3. The purpose of this USD event is to empower change makers through entrepreneurship.
The event is purposefully created to evolve and sustain a community of aspiring as well as seasoned entrepreneurs/business owners. Ultimately, bringing together students, alumni, investors and entrepreneurs for an interactive evening of coaching and collaboration. This event coincides with a larger perspective of what it means to be an entrepreneur and a strengthened sense of community.

4. Any entrepreneur, whether aspiring or seasoned, can benefit from attending the conference.
The USD Legacy Entrepreneurship Conference is one of the biggest events at USD for entrepreneurs. It is an incredible opportunity for anyone who has been inspired to be an entrepreneur to get the “real” behind the scenes stories from some of San Diego’s top entrepreneurs.

Participants will have the opportunity to engage with those who have done it before and can share their own startup stories stories. Topics like, “What I would tell my 21 year old self” can save anyone wasted time, energy and money of trying to figure it out on their own. Making mistakes as an entrepreneur can be very expensive, and an event like ULEC allows people the opportunity to ask questions, get feedback, and gather lessons learned from top successful entrepreneurs.

“It is also a great opportunity to meet our current innovative students and the thriving USD startup community. Social entrepreneurs who are changing the world and want to share their stories will also be on the panels adding a “changemaker” perspective” says Regina Bernal, Entrepreneurship and Experiential Learning.

5. Have your entrepreneurial questions answered from game changing panelists! You’ll collaborate with panelists like Stephan Aarstol, Author of ‘The Five-Hour Workday’ in a fireside chat setting. You’ll want to be sure to invite your boss for this part! Have those entrepreneurial questions ready. Those questions that browsing through countless articles on the internet just don’t answer.

Confirmed Fireside Chat and Panelists

Fireside Chat— Stephan Aarstol, Founder CEO Tower Paddle Boards, Author ‘The Five-Hour Workday’

Concurrent Panels “If I started my Business Today” “What I would tell my 21 year-old-self”

Warren Lorenz, TechMeetsTrader

Andy Altman, GigTown

Jessica Kort, Lacy

Gina Champion-Caine, American National Investment

Stephanie McQuade, Lacy

Cara Cerutti Holmes, Smarter Garter

Jeffery Adler, Serial Entrepreneur

Neil Resiman, Tavistock Group

Sioma Waisburd, Whole e Nature

Cody Cross, GreekLink

Ana Bermudez, TAGit

6. The networking. The conference offers the time and space to expand your network in the community. Let’s be honest, networking events alone can be costly to your startup budget and events like these offer the space to expand your network and exude your own value to the community. Don’t be shy! You’ll get the most out of it by getting involved in the conversation, asking questions, and leaving with a few valuable connections that you can continue to grow with on your journey as an entrepreneur in San Diego. Don’t miss out on this incredible FREE opportunity from USD and San Diego’s entrepreneurial community. Stay connected and get involved. Sign up today!

California Passes Legislation Creating New Structures for Social Enterprise

California Passes Legislation Creating New Structures for Social Enterprise from The Startup Garage

California Passes Legislation Creating New Structures for Social Enterprise

With limited legal designation for social enterprises, social entrepreneurs are forced to struggle with which legal form to choose for their ventures.  Traditional legal entities are not well-suited to blend the social and profit-making purposes of a social enterprise.  Management of for-profit companies are liable to shareholders for failure to maximize profit.  On the other hand, management of non-profit organizations are liable to the IRS when they reward investors.

Fortunately, California Governon Jerry Brown signed into law Benefit Corporation (!B 361) and Flexible Purpose Corporation (SB 201) legislation.  The passage of this law creates two options for socially responsible business models in California.

Generally, Benefit Corporations are corporate entities that are required to pursue social and environmental objectives in addition to seeking profits.  Flexible Purpose Corporations are corporations that seek profits and at least one broader social or environmental goal.  For more information about the two entities, visit this site.

While these structures are ideal for corporations that would like to be held to a higher standard of social and environmental responsibility, neither will provide tax advantages to the organization.  Nonetheless, board members and management can now be shielded from violating their fiduciary duties of maximizing shareholder profits.  Also, while both have been signed into law and they are not mutually exclusive, it is unclear which structure will produce the best results.


Whether you have a question about Social Enterprise, or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

The Structures of Social Enterprise

The Structures of Social Enterprise from The Startup Garage

The Structures of Social Enterprise

We are beginning to see more and more companies begin to blend their traditional corporate structures with a more modern obligation to philanthropy and social awareness. Social Entrepreneurism is on the rise and suddenly profit isn’t the only driving force behind big business. Across the nation, various legislations have passed to establish new corporate structures that aid the social entrepreneur in improving environmental, educational, social, and economic conditions.


The Benefit Corporation

Legal state entities that mandate corporations focus on public benefits alongside their for-profit enterprise. Shifts mainstream thought away from maximizing shareholder value towards maximizing stakeholder value by placing an emphasis on social issues. Required annual reports provide transparency to the public and accountability toward the company. These reports are not required to be assessed by third-parties; however, this will change under California law in January 2012. (Read more about the difference between Benefit and B-Corporations in the blog below)

Available in: Maryland, Vermont, Virginia, New Jersey, Hawaii, California

The L3C

Formally known as a Low Profit Limited Liability Company, L3Cs are legal forms of business corporations that blend non-profit and for-profit investment efforts with a socially beneficial structure. With reduced regulations granted from the IRS, an L3C is classified organization that sets to attain social goals first, with profit second.

Available in: Vermont, Michigan, Wyoming, Utah, Illinois, North Carolina, Louisiana, Maine, Rhode Island

Flexible-Purpose Corporation

A Flexible-Purpose Corporation is a socially conscious enterprise that allows for extreme flexibility in their structure and processes. These corporations specify a “special purpose”, either with a social cause or charitable activity, in addition to their pursuit of seeking profit. While most business corporations focus mostly on maximizing shareholder value, the goal of Flexible-Purpose Corps is to have a structured legal organization where profit is pursued alongside social aims.

Available in: California

Main Differences:

  • Company profit is still an expressed purpose of a Flexible-Purpose and Benefit Corporation, with neither profit nor social issue outweighing the other. With an L3C, the public benefit comes first, profit second.
  • Flexible-Purpose and Benefit Corporations both produce annual reports on their purposes and objectives. Only in California, do Benefit Corporations require third-party assessment on the reports.
  • On a scale from a fully functioning Business Corporation to a Non-Profit, Flexible-Purpose Corps would tilt towards Business Corporations, while Benefit Corporations tilted towards Non-Profits. L3Cs would be the mark directly before a full Non-Profit.


Whether you have a question about Starting a Social Enterprise or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

Keeping Up-To-Date On Social Enterprises

Social Enterprise Network from The Startup Garage

Keeping Up-To-Date On Social Enterprises

As mentioned in the previous blog post on scaling your social enterprise, part of building out your organization is through expanding your network.  Similarly, part of staying up to date on the latest information in the social enterprise world is to maintain those network connections and continue to seek out answers to your ongoing questions.  We have mentioned many resources for keeping up to date on social enterprises in previous blog posts, but below is a recap of the highlights:

Aside from your internet updates, you can stay involved in your local social enterprise network by seeking out events and conferences in your area through Eventbrite.com or Meetup.com.  You can also look for the events being hosted by a local business school or MBA program.

You can also receive updates in social enterprise through your social media accounts, especially LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  Take some time to search through the possible groups to join or companies to follow and add them to your profile.


Whether you have a question about Social Enterprises or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

Social Enterprises Globally

Global Social Enterprise from The Startup Garage

Social Enterprises Globally

There is a rich social enterprise culture present in the United Kingdom.  With the 2010 election of Prime Minister David Cameron, a platform policy of the U.K. Conservative Party known as the “Big Society” has been launched and aims to empower local community entrepreneurs.  One of the five main objectives is to support co-ops, mutuals, charities and social enterprises by establishing a Big Society Bank, which will provide financing for social enterprises and other similar ventures.  In addition, the University of Oxford boasts that the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship is the leading global entity for the advancement of social entrepreneurship.

Back in the U.S., the University of Washington Foster School of Business hosts the annual Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition, which was won in 2012 by a student team from the Copenhagen Business School with a solution to the social stigma and environmental problem of menstruation in the developing world.  Read about their company and the other winners here.

Another U.S.-based organization that has a profound impact on the international social enterprise community is Ashoka, which has established programs in over 60 countries and supports the work of nearly 3000 Fellows.  The first Ashoka Fellows were elected in 1981 in India.  Read more about Ashoka’s approach to supporting global social entrepreneurship here.

The 2012 Social Enterprise World Forum, hosted by NESsT, is taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in October.  NESsT was co-founded by an American and a Chilean in 1997 and is currently a registered charity in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Hungary, Peru, Romania, the U.K. and the U.S.  Read more about the SEWF’s agenda and registration here.


Whether you have a question about Social Enterprises or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

Common Mistakes Made By Social Entrepreneurs

Social Entrepreneur Mistakes from The Startup Garage

Common Mistakes Made By Social Entrepreneurs

As with any entrepreneurial venture, a social enterprise is bound to encounter some challenges in the process of starting up and becoming established.  Below are some examples of mistakes social entrepreneurs have made and how they have learned from these mistakes.

Product: Zack Rosenberg, founder of DoGoodBuyUs, a website that sells products made by charitable organizations, encountered some challenges in the early stages of his venture.  One of the first companies he attracted to sell their goods on his site had put together a package that was not of the quality or price point that customers were interested in, and the package sales were a flop.  Rosenberg learned that no matter what the cause is, if people do not want the product they will not buy it.  He was able to use the experience to demonstrate the potential of his site to other sellers, and has since partnered with over 70 organizations.  Read the whole article.

Asking for Help & Feedback:  A social entrepreneur, perhaps even more than a traditional entrepreneur, believes they have found a solution to a problem that no one has yet come up with.  This leads to a strong belief in the “correctness” of the solution which, as the social enterprise is being assembled, may lead to blindness on the entrepreneur’s part of the areas in which they are actually not correct.  You are not expected to have all the answers and there is no failure in admitting you were wrong about something.  Be open to criticism and seek help before you begin to hit major setbacks.  You may end up needing to alter your original plan significantly, so be flexible with the details and remember that your journey is ultimately about creating lasting social impact.

Marketing:  Your product will not sell itself.  You must be selling something that people want to buy, or else figure out how to convince them that they want to buy it.  Few social enterprises will have a product that reaches the marketing success of TOMS shoes.  TOMS has a great mission, but it’s worth mentioning that TOMS also managed to become a fashion statement once they were spotted on the feet of celebrities.  But for social enterprises without celebrity ambassadors, know your audience: what kind of action must you take to reach the audience that buys your product, and how is that audience the same (or different) from the audience that benefits from your social mission?  The further apart the two audiences are, the more likely you will need to engage in marketing tactics that compete with traditional commercial enterprises.

Hiring on Availability Rather than Talent:  When you are putting together your staff for the social enterprise, do not rush into hiring the first passionate individual who sits down to speak with you.  In the beginning stages of your business you will be fueled by the energy you have towards your mission, and it is crucial that you do not allow it to sidetrack you from the importance of hiring someone who is right for the job and not someone who is under experienced.  A non-profit is a better business entity for hiring volunteers and entry-level employees, but a social enterprise must bear in mind that there is a need to earn a profit.  A suggestion for avoiding the mistake of hiring the wrong person is to thoroughly articulate the job requirements and experience necessary, on paper, before you begin speaking with potential employees.  This way you already know what your ideal candidate looks like.

Believing that a Social Enterprise is the Only Way:  The popularity of the social enterprise model is fairly recent, and as more universities are offering courses in social entrepreneurship and the business media is beginning to cover more social enterprises, entrepreneurs may cling to the idea as though it is the only way to change the world.  It is not.  Your altruism is not wasted if you end up working in another field, don’t discount the benefit you offer to the world by having your head and heart dedicated to change.  Read Lara Galinsky’s thoughts on why not everyone should be a social entrepreneur.


Whether you have a question about Social Entrepreneurship or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

Scaling Your Social Enterprise

Scaling a Social Enterprise from The Startup Garage

Scaling Your Social Enterprise

There are two ways to scale your social enterprise: through organizational growth or through other forms of increasing social impact beyond the organizational boundaries.

Organizational growth is the internal changes made aimed at maximizing social impact, such as diversifying into other services or activities, serving more people by increasing employment number and hours, starting a new site, and winning new contracts.  Scaling a social enterprise with organizational growth requires financial and management expertise, as well as incorporation of growth models such as M&A drawn from the private sector.  Two examples of mass-scale social enterprise are Mexico-based Gente Nueva and Bangladesh-based BRAC.  Watch an interview with Gente Nueva’s social entrepreneur, Jose Hernandez.  Watch an in-depth panel interview on scaling the BRAC social enterprise (beginning at 17:00).

Increasing social impact beyond organizational boundaries includes creating alliances to get resources and political support, creating “spin out” organizations, social franchising, establishing or supporting quality standards for best practices, and providing material or training to others.*  This includes the idea of networked social entrepreneurship, which aims to achieve greater impact by creating a network of collaborators and partners.  This method of scaling a social enterprise increases the possibility of innovation and experimentation as the members of the network complement the efforts of the other members.  The Impact Alliance is a Washington D.C.-based network that aims to improve the scale of impact of member organizations and is a great place to start looking for resources to expand a social enterprise.


*Lyon, Fergus and Heather Fernandez.  “Strategies for scaling up social enterprise: lessons from early years providers.”  Social Enterprise Journal 18.1 (2012): 63-77.  Print.


Whether you have a question about Social Enterprises or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

Social Enterprise: Competing With Non-Profits and For Profits

Competing Social Enterprise from The Startup Garage

Social Enterprise: Competing With Non-Profits and For Profits

Part of the process of differentiating from a non-profit organization and a for profit business requires a social enterprise to understand how it competes with the business entities on each end of the business spectrum.

For Profit: When it comes to competing with other entities, the most significant competitor for a social enterprise is a for profit business.  A for profit business does not have the same need to balance a social mission and can therefore fully pursue the profit motive.  A for profit can often offer better salaries and benefits and can provide nicer facilities.  A for profit’s products can compete on price with a social enterprise that sells a product at a premium to support the mission.  When a social enterprise’s product is priced below market value, then it is important to maintain sales within the target market meant to be the beneficiary of the discounted product.  Whether it is on price point for the product or target market range, the social enterprise has less flexibility to alter its business plan to adapt to the market trends.

Non-Profit:  A non-profit organization also serves as a competitor to a social enterprise, but the metrics it competes on are, naturally, different from the for profit competition metrics.  All non-profits are engaged in some form of fundraising, as it is a necessity to fund their organization.  While fundraising is difficult on the front end in terms of finding donors, once the non-profit has the funding they are free to use it as they need within their legal bounds.  A social enterprise, on the other hand, is engaged in equity and debt financing and therefore must provide equity investors with a return on their investment or pay back the principle and interest on their debt.  So a social enterprise needs to be more careful with their use of funding because their sources of funding are expecting the money to be returned.

Social Enterprise:  Lastly, a social enterprise that is successful is going to face competition from other social enterprises that enter their market.  As mentioned in the earlier blog post on Social Enterprise Marketing Strategy, a social enterprise benefits when another social enterprise competes with it for market share, as far as accomplishing its mission.  In order to compete on margin when there is another social enterprise in the same market, the social enterprise must push itself to operate on lean principles and continue to seek out waste in the business.  Learn more about lean principles from the Lean Enterprise Institute.


Whether you have a question about Social Entrepreneurship or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

Social Enterprise Marketing Strategy

Social Enterprise Marketing Strategy from The Startup Garage

Social Enterprise Marketing Strategy

A social enterprise faces a challenge when it comes to marketing.  As a social entrepreneur is seeking to meet a demand or need in the market that is currently unmet, the availability of data is scarce.  Unlike a for profit organization, a social enterprise is often entering a hybrid market that is un-established and cannot be researched and quantified quite the way a traditional for profit market can.  Thus, there is less of a need to invest the resources necessary to conduct extensive market research that a traditional commercial entrepreneur faces.

Additionally, a social enterprise actually benefits from having competitors in their market space, as the ultimate goal of a social enterprise is to serve a need in the target market.  Unfortunately, that target market is often very specific and it can be difficult to broaden the target market without straying from the mission.  As mentioned in a previous blog post, the target markets can range from those who are willing to pay a premium for a socially responsible product (such as TOMS Shoes) or those who are receiving a product at a reduced cost (such as Grameen Bank).  Wherever the target market may lay, it is important for the social entrepreneur to consider how the size of their market affects their overall business strategy.

If a social enterprise emphasizes sustainability in their supply chain, such as Guayakí, they face a greater degree of uncertainty and lack some of the legitimacy enjoyed by a standard commercial enterprise.  Often a company must pay a premium to incentivize their supply chain towards sustainability and then turn the price premium on the product into a compelling story for the end consumer.  Often a company will seek certification, such as the Fair Trade Certified label in the food and beverage industry, to add value to their product and communicate that value to the end consumer.

A social enterprise should anticipate utilizing social media to the full extent possible in order to spread the message of the organization’s mission.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn are all wonderful ways to communicate with your entire audience of stakeholders.

The following Marketing Plan is borrowed from Social Enterprise London:

  • Strategy:  The vision and purpose of the organization will provide the long-term strategic direction of the marketing plan. As a social enterprise, one of your core values will be to reinvest profits into your stated cause or community..
  • Communications Objectives:  SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) objectives for marketing should lead the action planning. Communications objectives work to manage the buying cycle, abbreviated as AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action), and different media are used throughout the buying cycle to stimulate demand. In addition, objectives should consider company image and branding.
  • Communications Tactics:  Depending on the stage of the product in the product life cycle, the campaign objectives, the customer profile and the market positioning determines which media are used. A campaign integrating multiple media avenues is strongest, and ensures that the marketing messages are reinforced.
  • Action Planning and Implementation:  Resources, budgets and time frames are confirmed, and test marketing may be undertaken.
  • Evaluation and Control:  Controls are essential in measuring the results of the campaign compared to expectations. This will also help with planning further marketing campaigns.

Check out Social Enterprise London’s entire handbook on marketing your social enterprise.


Social Enterprise Performance Measures

Social Enterprise Performance Measures from The Startup Garage

Social Enterprise Performance Measures

Measuring the performance of a social enterprise is likely to be one of the biggest challenges an entrepreneur will face.  Unlike a non-profit who can measure their performance based on their fulfillment of their mission, or a for profit who can measure their performance based on their profits, a social enterprise must seek to measure both metrics and find a balance between the two.

Accounting measures and accountability are a very important part of a social enterprises’ duty to report their performance.  While financial accounting to disclose profits is easy, it is much more difficult to identify and quantify proper metrics to measure a social enterprises’ social impact.  In Connolly and Kelly’s 2011 article “Understanding accountability in social enterprise organisations: a framework” in the Social Enterprise Journal, they identify three types of accountability for social enterprises: legal, constructive and voluntary.

  • Legal: Also known as process accountability, legal accountability includes the implementation of the proper authority structure in the company, annual filing of requires reports and financial statements, obtaining the necessary accreditation, meeting all legal and regulatory standards and fulfilling all contractual obligations entered into with service provides and investors.
  • Constructive:  Also known as performance accountability, constructive accountability measures a company’s use of resources for efficiency.  A company can used a balanced scorecard, benchmarking and best practices in the industry, and Social Return on Investment.  A company can also engage in continuous improvement through training and other forms of organizational learning.
  • Voluntary: Also known as program accountability, voluntary accountability measures whether or not an organization has met its objectives.  This form of accountability is often driven by social accountability where organizations engage in self-evaluation and audits of other social enterprises.  This form of accountability is the least well-defined and is most dependent on a company’s own reflection on its goals and mission and how it has managed to meet those expectations.