Social Enterprise Business Planning and Assessment


This publication looks at the practicalities of business planning for social enterprises in the context of public service delivery. It differs from many business planning publications in that it takes account of the differences between social enterprises and other enterprises, it focuses on public service delivery, and it also considers the viewpoint of those assessing a business plan.







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The business planning process set out recognises that the social enterprise is likely to be operating in a competitive environment at a time when public sector bodies find themselves faced with difficult decisions, within constrained budgets and where demand for certain core public services continues to grow.

In addition, while social enterprise is not the only option for public service delivery, they can incorporate features that make them attractive and suitable for some forms of service delivery. This publication takes the approach that where such social enterprise features have a significant impact on the service delivery model, then they ought to be identified and incorporated into the business planning process.

The publication will be useful to those tasked with producing or assessing a social enterprise business plan, as well as to:

  • those looking to develop new social enterprises in their area
  • managers and officers involved in commissioning services
  • managers looking at new models for delivering existing or new services.

Business planning areas covered include:

  • business plan overview
  • social enterprise characteristics and their relevance to business planning
  • the organisation and its services/products
  • analysis of service/product users and purchasers
  • analysis of the sector, industry and competition
  • formulating the organisation’s strategy
  • developing the marketing plan
  • developing the operations plan
  • governance, management and staff teams
  • developing the financial plan
  • the plan summary.

The publication also includes checklists for those both drawing up and assessing a business plan.

The guide is available in book and PDF formats. Details of licensing arrangements for other categories of purchaser, which includes those organisations operating shared service arrangements, are available from CIPFA’s Publications Department.

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