Tools and resources

Tools & resources

In addition to the support we provide to social enterprises we have brought together some of the best tools and resources from our partners and across the web to enable you take your next steps.

Social enterprise explained

getting started

Social impact

legal structures

Generating finance & income


Supply chains & procurement

Scaling up

Support at The Platform

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Social enterprise explained

Social enterprises do business for good. They are “businesses which are set up to change the world. Like traditional businesses they aim to make a profit but it’s what they do with their profits that sets them apart – reinvesting or donating it to create positive social change.  Social enterprises exist in nearly every sector from consumer goods to healthcare, community energy to creative agencies, restaurants to facilities management. Well known examples include The Big Issue, Divine Chocolate and the Eden Project but there are over 70,000 social enterprises throughout the country contributing £24 billion to the economy and employing nearly a million people.” – Social Enterprise UK

Find out more about the social enterprises in Greater Brighton by visiting our directory .

Social enterprises are businesses that:
  • Trade to tackle social problems, strengthen communities or improve the environment

  • Aim to generate most of their income through selling goods and services

  • Reinvest the majority of their profits to further their mission

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Starting up

Are you ready to do business for good? If you have a business idea that can make a positive social or environmental impact here are a couple of tools and guides that offer structure through the initial steps.

  • UnLtd have created a comprehensive Social Entrepreneurship Toolkit that offers practical guidance and working models from initial idea, setup and piloting, on to longer term sustainability, growth and replication.
  • Social Enterprise UK have a compact Start Your Social Enterprise Guide that takes you through the essentials, focusing on the parts that they feel are most important.
  • If you are a charity of voluntary lead organisation considering becoming a social enterprise Social Enterprise UK’s guide Why Social Enterprise for charities is a must to get you started.
  • Knowhow Nonprofit is a knowledge and e-learning platform for charities, social enterprises and community groups. They cover the basics around starting up and have practical tools and resources you can use that covers everything from business planning to HR policies and everything in between.
  • HelloAlice is a great new digital tool that sifts through thousands of resources to signpost you to what is right for you. You can search based on your industry, stage of growth, location and more.

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Social impact

Social enterprise trade to tackle social and environmental issues. Measuring the impact they make is key to testing their model and communicating their impact and here are some useful tools.

  • The Good Finance Outcomes Matrix provides a useful starting point for you to consider the social impact that you are trying to deliver and how your will measure it.
  • Creating a theory of change will enable you to create a roadmap to design and test the impact your social enterprise is trying to make. Nesta have developed a Theory of Change module in their DIY Toolkit.
  • There are many ways to measure the impact you make, the UnLtd toolkit section on proving your social model and collecting your evidence gives a good overview.

Legal structures

A social enterprise can be any legal structure. Choosing the right one for your business will have an impact on your; personal liability, ownership, funding (both short and long term), governance and profit distribution.

Here are some tools to help you get your head around governance:

We recommend you get advice from a legal expert to make sure your legal structure works for you as you set up and grow.

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Generating income and raising finance

Like any business, getting your income model right is key to the long term success of your social enterprise. Social enterprises have access to every source of income (legal structure permitting).

  • NCVO have created a useful guide Income Spectrum – helping you find the right funding mix to enable you to explore your options including gifts, grants, contracts and the open market. They also provide an overview of for each source of income in their funding and income overview.

Raising finance to start up and grow your social enterprise can be key to the success of your social enterprise. To help you find the right finance for your social enterprise;

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Marketing your social enterprise is the same as marketing any business. However you may choose to market your impact as a unique selling point.

  • Dynamic Marketing have created a list of resources and tools to get you started.
  • Social Enterprise UK support social enterprises to market their businesses through their Buy Social campaign.

We are developing a Buy Social Directory for Greater Brighton to promote buying from social enterprises. Sign up to our social enterprise directory to be included.

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Supply chains and procurement

Many social enterprises sell their products and services to businesses and the public sector by entering their supply chains and winning contracts through procurement.

In 2016 the UK public sector had public procurement spend of around £200 billion. Social enterprises are well positioned to win public sector contracts through the introduction of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2013 which requires people who commission public services to think about how they can also secure wider social, economic and environmental benefits. For more information on the Social Value Act visit the website and search their contract finder.

  • Social Enterprise UK launched Realising the Potential of Social Enterprise: A guide for people in local authorities who are interested in social enterprise: council leaders, senior managers, directors of services, commissioners, heads of procurement, or those with responsibility for economic development. It outlines how social enterprises can help meet a local authority’s strategic objectives, and gives practical advice on how local authorities can best work with them.

Both councils and business support organisations run ‘Meet the Buyer’ events which provide opportunities for suppliers to meet public sector procurers and large businesses which are a great opportunity to access these supply chains.

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Scaling up

Are you ready to scale up or want to consider building in the potential to scale from the start?

  • This report from Nesta on ‘Making it Big’ provides an overview of the different routes to scaling your social enterprise.
  • If you know you want to replicate your existing social enterprise model, explore the Social Replication Toolkit.

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Support from the platform

As a social enterprise hub, The Platform offers a range of support through our:

  • Network

  • Workshops

  • Peer learning

  • Socials and showcases

  • Startup and accelerator programmes

  • Social enterprise representation and campaigns

  • Reduced rate venue, meeting room and office hire

If you can’t find the support you need, get in touch and tell us how we can help. The support we offer is co-created with the social enterprises we work with to make sure the support we offer meets you needs.

For signposting to other local, regional and national business support initiatives visit the Business Navigator Growth Hub.