There are so many amazing reasons to start a social enterprise. I founded and managed one myself when I was just 19, and I found it to be the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life so far, and would love others to do the same. Social enterprise may be an alien term to some readers, but it is essentially a company that serves the community in some way and gives something back. So if you’re thinking of setting up your own business, consider these reasons to start a social enterprise.
1. Start-up Funding
One of the best reasons to start a social enterprise is that despite cuts to business start-up funding due to the global recession, there is still always some funding available from somewhere for social enterprises that want to help the local community. You’ll have to do your research, but there are usually loans and grants available.
2. Give Back to the Community
Social enterprises, like charities, address a need or a problem that needs to be solved. This can be tackling health problems, planting trees, giving new opportunities to people living in poverty or near enough anything that you can think of. It could be something close to your heart that you’ve always wanted to get involved with!
3. Happy Employees
Many social enterprises actually focus on helping their employees in some way, rather than dealing with a different problem out in the community (although there is often a positive knock-on effect). Some social enterprises are set up in order to provide work for people with disabilities, addiction, mental health problems, or a criminal past, for example. And even if your focus is different, you’re more likely to have happy employees in a social enterprise because staff will feel good about what they do.
4. Making Money
Yes, you CAN make money from social enterprise. In fact, the top dogs at the most successful social enterprises are usually on extremely generous salaries. Social enterprises differ from charities because whereas charities rely on funding, social enterprises provide a product or service and aim to profit from this, but just use any leftover profits to help people, animals or the environment in some way.
5. Good Consumer Image
Because social enterprises are responsible and actually help the world (rather than damaging it in the way that many commercial enterprises do), potential customers view them in a more positive light. You’ll be more successful if your brand image is good, make more money and earn respect at the same time.
6. Better Business Rates
Tax rates, business banking fees and many other charges that businesses have to pay are lower or even waived for social enterprises and not-for-profits. You’ll have to do your research because all of this depends on where you’re based, but it’s likely you’ll have lower charges.
7. Feel Good
Last but not least of these great reasons to start a social enterprise is that you will feel good. You’ll be making a living while helping others and making a positive contribution to your community or the wider world. What could be better?
With so many amazing reasons to start a social enterprise, anyone that wants to go into business really should consider it. Do you have any experience of social enterprise and what do you do? Or what would you like to do, if you decided to start one?