Social Enterprise

Key Skill Sets to Manage Your Social Enterprise

Recruiting a manager for a social enterprise is a significant step, and requires careful examination of the experience, aptitude, and credentials of the individual.

First, let’s discuss what the job involves:

  • Most social enterprises connected to not-for-profits will be connected only at arm’s length, which means the leader of the social enterprise must be capable of operating independently, with minimal interaction from the leadership and board of the not-for-profit.
  • Because of the this, the individual should be well-versed in financial planning, accounting, human resources, leadership, communications, marketing, and sales. 10 Years experience and an MBA are good places to start.

When you’ve whittled your candidate list down, look for the following characteristics:

  • Entrepreneurial Drive  – Make no mistake, without a strong and proven entrepreneurial drive, your social enterprise will fail. Take the time, find the right person.
  • Backgrounds as an entrepreneur, seller, marketer will all be helpful.
  • We suggest avoiding ‘communications’ and ‘fundraising’ applicants, as these are not the required skill sets, and the individuals will likely have trouble adjusting to the uncertainty of the role.
  • Analytical skill – specially in the early-going, exceptional analytical and presentation skills will be required to identify and communicate market opportunities
  • Marketing – look for someone who has handled marketing in startup organizations, and is comfortable with digital marketing, sales, and agency management
  • Sales & Relationship Building – once the business gets moving, you’ll need your key leader to transition to being a team builder, relationship builder, and closer. These are unique skills.

Take your time and get the right person on board.

If you need an extra pair of eyes on shortlisting the resumes, we’re pleased to help.

Social Enterprise

5 Myths About Social Enterprise

When the idea is casually floated at a board meeting to establish a new social enterprise, I watch the responses closely.  I also take a close look at the composition and business background of the board.

Then, I recite this now-familiar list of common myths about social enterprise:

Myth: Social enterprise is quick.

  • Fact: It’s not.  If you’re building a business, it will take time.  You need to take time, and be patient, supporting the business and committing to it as it grows.

Myth: Social enterprise is easy.

  • Fact: It’s not.  Building a business is not easy.  It requires a specialized experience and skill set, a patient and dedicated board, and a plan that’s bullet-proof.

Myth: We can run a social enterprise within our existing framework.

  • Fact: Likely not. Most not-for-profits run very tight operations, with specialized skills. It’s likely rare to find an experienced entrepreneur among the staff.

Myth: Lots of social enterprises make a ton of money.

  • Fact: Some do. Some don’t.  It depends on many things, the quality of the plan, the experience of the people leading them chief among the variables.

Myth: A good social enterprise leverages what we do.

  • Fact: A good social enterprise makes money.  Why mess it up with external constraints?  If you’re going to impose constraints (such as ‘it must employ our core constituency in its service delivery’, you should factor this into your financial projections).

Thinking about a social enterprise?

…despite what you’ve just read, we’re enthusiastic supporters, and huge believers in the power of social enterprise to deliver strategic growth for not-for-profits.  We provide you with the planning, strategic, and business acumen to get the project off the ground.

Let’s talk!

Social Enterprise

Is your organization ready for a social business?

This diagnostic will help you get a sense of whether your organization is ready for social enterprise:

Community Development

It’s built…why is nobody coming?

Beautiful new sidewalks. Colourful lamp-post banners. Lovely new boulevard planters.

Lots of deliberate placemaking: why is it so quiet?

This happens where the municipality articulates a vision for a troubled area, pours a ton of money (and patterned concrete) into convincing people that a renaissance is underway, installs an under-funded BIA, and turns to the next item on their to-do list, secure in the knowledge that at least part of the job is complete (and accountability for the turnaround has been passed-off).

Likely to succeed? Don’t bet on it.

Here’s three reasons why:

  1. Leadership Turnover – These Improvement Areas were struck some time ago, with the consent of at-the-time business leaders, who may or may not be around today, to see the vision through to completion.  The result is that dissent around special levies and zone fees inevitably arise, especially with small retailers and businesses – who can and will move elsewhere. Small retailers are the key: consistent investment in their businesses, in finding them new ways to market, and to bring new customers to them is critical.
  2. Execution – The mandate of the Improvement Area is often broad, with business development, marketing, events, promotions, and a host of other initiatives all falling to just 2 or 3 people.  Something will fail, or not be executed well.
  3. Social Issues Crowd-Out Progress on Other Files – Social issues tend to linger, and are not easily washed away by cosmetic issues noted above.  Until social issues are meaningfully addressed, the reputation of the area, its safety, and its revenue potential is unlikely to change.

What can be done about it?

  1. Get clear on your ideal customer – who you’re trying to attract to the area and why. High-disposable income shoppers from nearby areas? Residents from walking-distance apartments? Residents from the suburbs (for destination shopping/dining)?
  2. Shift your perspective – and that of your retailers – to one of ‘the street is my shop’.
  3. Keep it clean.  Keep it inviting.  Address graffiti quickly.
  4. Work with the police to make people feel safe.
  5. Challenge license applications of undesirable businesses.
  6. Make helping people who live along the street/area live better lives part of your mission.  If you have cash shops/pawn shops, launch financial literacy programs, to help squeeze their businesses off of your street/area (if they aren’t congruous with your vision).
  7. Bring in new social partners. Develop social enterprises that solve problems and put people to work (ideas: garbage removal, recycling, window washing, security are in-demand everywhere).
  8. Realize that your vendors won’t be successful with foot and car traffic alone.  Help them reach out to new markets (one-by-one).
  9. Provide a platform for vendors to collaborate with each other to develop interesting new products and services (eg Dinner and a Movie)
  10. Provide an area-wide discount/coupon system that every vendor can get behind, and promote this to your target buyers.
  11. Stage impromptu events along the street, and get social buzz moving.  Get a local musician to lend talent.
  12. Set up a community garden on derelict/under-used land.
  13. Develop restaurant-based, ticketed events to get people coming to the area, and branding the area as a ‘happening place’ on the local food scene.
  14. Recruit businesses that matter, leveraging the ‘Starbuck’s Effect’.
  15. Provide financing incentives for good businesses to become better and bigger.

Talk to us – we can help you with all of the items above.


3-Level service guarantee

Triple satisfaction guaranteeTo provide the greatest degree of comfort possible for our partners and clients, we offer a 3-level service guarantee:

  1. 7-day exit guarantee – no questions, no penalties, no worries.
  2. 100% 30-day money back guarantee – if you aren’t completely happy with our service, get your money back.
  3. 120-day find-your-acquisition guarantee, or you can halve our fee.

Set up a confidential conversation today:

Social Enterprises - Acquisitions

Can growth be achieved in the target company?

Because the whole point of an acquisition is the accretive growth, the ability of the target company to not just maintain, but grow, will be a critical factor in the final go/no-go decision.

The Sales Team Productivity Planner helps prospective acquirers envision growth strategies prior to the acquisition, to arrive at a reasonable offer.

…run your numbers here:

Sales Growth

Are we clear on our buyer?

One of the most consequential decisions that your team can make is deciding ‘who is our buyer?’…the target market.

It’s important to get right, but if you don’t get it quite right…it’s always changeable (it just costs more money).

Here’s a framework to help Boards and managers zero-in on the most profitable client group:

…this worksheet might also be helpful to you, in designing your service:


Sales Growth

Mind your revenue gap


One of the simplest and most effective tools that leaders can deploy is a sales gap analysis.

In essence, it asks 2 questions:

1. Where are we likely to end-up?

2. Where do we want to end-up? …the difference is the gap.

The management challenge is in figuring out how to close the gap – that’s why sales leaders make the big bucks. Run your numbers here, and use the dozen or so tools below to determine your strategic options:

If you find yourself shy of where you need to be…we should talk.

Social Enterprises - Acquisitions

Turnaround planning

Prior to the go/no-go decision, its prudent to acknowledge that the target company will require some ‘turning around’.  – define that as you will.

Of course, the unique particulars of the target business will govern the approach – but in general, the activity needs to be disciplined: number focused, and people-flavoured.  The turned-around business either stands on its own, or it doesn’t (keeping personalities out it at this early stage can be most helpful).

Tactically, the approach will follow the 4 step process in the worksheet below – use this tool for scenario planning now, to avoid making a decision you’ll regret later.

The process involves:

  1. getting clarity on your current situation (step 1),
  2. defining the to-be business (step 2),
  3. reflecting-on, and prioritizing the key activities to be achieved (step 3),
  4. and assessing the do-ability of turning around performance in the key dimensions identified (step 4).

Social Enterprises - Acquisitions

Marketing plan challenger

Does the target business have a high performance marketing plan?

Is it capable of delivering the strategic objectives – particularly your sales goals – that the acquisition will require?

Get a sense of the effectiveness of the business’ current Marketing Plan to power market-growth goals, and start putting the pieces together for a post-acquisition marketing plan that fills these gaps: