Business planning for a social business

In order to run a well-managed social business, it’s important to have an up to date business plan.

Make sure it’s well-rounded and accessible to everyone in your organisation, so employees can interpret day by day management actions from it. A poor quality business plan could make your business mismanaged and anti-social. It could even be the cause for bankruptcy!

Browse our business planning section for a guide to writing your business plan.

Why a business plan is important for your social enterprise 

Your business plan is likely to have greater functionality in a social business compared to a private business, where it can be a conversation between business owners and financial backers. 

In a social business the business plan is used as a mechanism for a conversation between all stakeholders (internal and external) and has a shared ownership amongst them.  A wider shared ownership of the document will reflect the actual future of the business better. This makes the plan a useful management action guide and a powerful mechanism for gaining the informed and active support of existing stakeholders as well as new supporters.  

What are the benefits of business planning? 

A business plan provides the means of comparing a previously imagined future with the actual present. It focuses on improving the management of existing resources and making more accurate further projections. It therefore changes dynamically and frequently. To ensure everyone is looking at and working to the same plan meaning, look to implement version controlling. 

To achieve these benefits, the business plan needs to be an active, ‘live’ document with actual performance aligned to and compared with it. In addition to financial performance, this involves ensuring development of products and services, human resources and productivity are carried through.  

Make your business plan short and succinct, with clear and measurable targets, clear action plans, time profiles and Gantt charts. Monitor and test the elements for relevance and delivery on a regular basis.  

Using your business plan as a management tool 

Social businesses  benefit from appointing a person to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and action points in the business plan, interpret results and report progress to the team. They could also take responsibility for continually projecting into the future and refreshing the plan based on experience and new information.  

Projections need to be coherent. For example, generating new social outcomes might require new capacity, new staff and therefore a new human resources (HR) recruitment and induction plan. Having a properly facilitated business planning process allows you to identify such issues and can stop them from becoming problems. It also helps you ensure that there is a full projection of the required investment. 

Start your business planning by developing quality systems for your social business

Social business help and support from Business Wales 

Business Wales offers a wealth of information, advice and guidance for business owners. Below, we’ve listed some useful resources for social business planning.