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Writing a Social Enterprise Business Plan

Writing a Social Enterprise Business Plan from The Startup Garage

Writing a business plan serves two main purposes: providing the guide for your business internally and communicating the value of your business externally.  The more detail and thought that is put into the business plan, the more it will help your business navigate the start up and expansion stages.  Consequently, the more your business plan thoroughly addresses all the issues that will come up internally as you grow your company, the more power it will have in convincing an external audience that your business plan will succeed.

Depending on the type of entity you are writing a business plan for, there will be different external audiences that will be interested in your business plan.  A non-profit  business plan is aimed at donors, as fundraising is a key method of financing a non-profit organization.  A for profit business plan is aimed at investors, as both equity and debt capital are key to financing for profit organizations.  A social enterprise business plan however, is aimed at a blended audience.  As a business, a social enterprise leans in the direction of appealing to investors, but it would not do justice to the social enterprise to remove the importance of the mission for the sake of convincing investors about the prospect of the profit margin.

Your business plan is the argument you use to your external audience to finance your organization, and there are three types of persuasive strategies to accomplish this goal.  The first strategy is the logical appeal, or the logos.  This tactic is best applied in the context of a for profit business plan, as investors will want to see numbers and figures reflecting financial potential to convince them to invest.  The second strategy is the emotional appeal, or the pathos.  This tactic is best applied in the context of a non-profit business plan, as donors want to feel like they are providing funding for a solution to a problem that tugs at their heartstrings.  The final strategy is the ethical appeal, or the ethos.  This tactic emphasizes the character, credibility and dependability of the messenger.  It is the tactic most dependent on who is advancing the argument rather than the content of the argument.  This tactic is most appropriate for a social enterprise’s business plan.  By establishing the credibility of the social enterprise itself as a competent, well-connected and confident team of leaders, an investor is likely to buy in to both the mission and the financial potential of the organization.

The Startup Garage specializes in writing business plans for social enterprises, get in touch with us for a free consultation!


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