Guest post for Guardian Social Enterprise Network

Our Director wrote an article for the Guardian Social Enterprise Network, published on Tuesday 6 September 2011, about how in order to go mainstream, social enterprise needs a more inclusive definition and how the Social Enterprise Mark was preventing this from happening. The Mark responded with this statement. There are some great comments by David Floyd, Geof Cox and MJ Ray (much appreciated).

Collaborative Social Enterprise Brand

Inspired by the new COMMON community collaborative brand for rapidly prototyping social ventures, and by this epic thread on the Social Enterprise Mark group on Linked In that we started, we have kickstarted the first open source collaborative brand for social enterprise under the Creative Commons license (not a trade mark in sight).

More than just a logo, the brand identity represents a community of for-profit business which:

1) have an explicit social and/or environmental purpose and

2) are set up or reconfigured to create shared value for all.

Under the Creative Commons attribution license (CC BY) social enterprises can ‘distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon’ the brand. This is the most accommodating of licenses as we want to protect the meaning and integrity of the brand – which will be self-regulated by the community to ensure genuine use – but let licensees do what they like with it (just tweet us when start to use it).

Use of his brand includes the existing classification of social businesses so that we no longer need a social business / social enterprise distinction as previously used by ourselves and continuing to be used by the great guys at Clearly So. In America if you are a social entrepreneur you set up a social business – simple.

Progressive businesses such as Ehab (who are building a blockchain real estate platform) that fit the above description can download the logo below for free by right clicking (it’s in a web-friendly PNG transparent format – just email for other formats, sizes, colours etc).

In the spirit of free and open-source software, the ‘source code’ of this brand in Adobe Illustrator format, to be tweaked and improved upon, is here.

All comments welcome and we now have our own Linked In Group here.

[Social Enterprise Brand by Profit Is Good Ltd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at www.profitisgood.co.uk. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.profitisgood.co.uk.]

LIMtool – the quick and affordable way to measure and promote your impact

We at Profit Is Good believe that it is imperative for organisations in any sector to capture, understand and demonstrate their economic, social and environmental impact in order to successfully compete and thrive within their marketplace. This is why we created our sub-business Social Value – a social impact consultancy – that supports charities, social and private businesses and investors to put in place systems for quantifying the positive (and negative) value they create for  their stakeholders.

For charities we use outcome measurement systems such as the Outcomes Star and SOUL to record the scale of the changes experienced by clients and impact frameworks such as Social Return on Investment to place a value on these changes. But until now there has been a gap in the market for a quick and robust way of demonstrating the local impact of social and private businesses in terms of how they contribute to local economic and social development (i.e. their local Sustainable Communities Strategy).

Introducing the LIMtool from the social enterprise consultancy Aspiren.

LIMtool stands for Local Impact Measurement tool and is an online tool where organisations feed in the information they already collect such as revenue, employment data, environmental practices, community engagement etc and the tool does some number crunching and creates a PDF snapshot of their local impact plus a one page infographic such as the one below:

Subscriptions to LIMtool start from just £249. Click here to visit the site.

Book Review – How to be a Social Entrepreneur by Robert Ashton

I both know and admire Robert from working within the 3rd sector in Norfolk together and view him as one of only a few people you can rely on to cut the bull and give it to you straight. And this is exactly what he does in his 12th and most recent book “How to be a Social Entrepreneur – Make money & change the world”.

Robert nails it for me in the intro when he states that “…tomorrow’s entrepreneur will be a social entrepreneur. More confident shaking hands than shaking a collection tin; more confident negotiating innovative, colaborative partnerships with those able to help them further the cause and more confident that profit is good, because of the freedom it gives you to do good.”

The realisation that profit is indeed good was the reason I started my social business consultancy. As Robert puts it on p10, “In today’s world, the only way to bring about sustainable change is through being enterprising and entrepreneurial.” And for both Robert and I that means focusing on creating a financial profit in order to create the positive social and environmental value which will result from this. Social entrepreneurship is about utilising profitable business models to enable positive change in the world.

I would recommend this book to all those who have the desire to change the world but may lack the business skills necessary to do so –  you can purchase a copy of the book from Amazon using the widget in the sidebar >>>

Visit www.robertashton.co.uk for more from Robert.

Business vs charity = self-help vs philanthropy

When I give advice I try to seek out someone’s motivation for setting up or growing a mission-based organisation. There is often a pretty clear split between the mindsets of people setting up or running a social business and those setting up or running a charity. Both are completely valid vehicles to create social impact however both require different legal structures, different operating models and different types of people behind the helm.

As Muhammad Yunus puts it in his book ‘Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism’:

‘A social business is not a charity. It is a business in every sense. It has to recover  its full costs while achieving its social objectives. When you are running a business you think differently and work differently than when you are running a charity. And this makes all the difference in defining social business and it’s impact on society.’ (2009 : 22)