1. Use a reporting system to improve your business processes

Although social enterprises can be very creative in their resourcing strategies, we found the lack of a systematic approach to collecting and reporting business data seemed to be holding social enterprises back.

With a reliable reporting system, social enterprises can make evidence-informed decisions to better shape strategy and operations.

Systematic reporting has many benefits for social enterprises, including:

  • Making decision-making accountable using performance data.
  • Informing strategic development using reliable data.
  • Ensuring compliance with funders, where applicable.
  • Demonstrating sound business practices.
  • Fostering reliable systems to support the business through growth stages.

  1. Pay close attention to the alignment between your mission and strategy

As businesses develop and grow, a gap can appear between the business operational environment, and the original stated mission. New business opportunities and responding to shifting resource demands make it challenging to ensure the business stays aligned with its original stated purpose.

This is known as ‘mission drift’, and is a common challenge among non-profits and social enterprises. Mission drift makes it harder to develop strategic resourcing plans, because the pressure for short-term resourcing drives opportunism. There are ways to combat mission drift to ensure your business stays on course:

  • Regular stakeholder engagement will keep all key groups up to date with your existing and new work.
  • Review your strategy often, develop it collaboratively with your key people.
  • Open discussions with team members will provide insights into how well aligned your business is with mission over time.
  • Appraise new business opportunities by determining:
    • How will the opportunity advance your mission now, and in the next ten years?
    • The nature of the opportunity: is it a one-off, or something more sustainable?
    • How well is your current operational environment (i.e. people, space) suited to deliver on the contract?

  1. Foster the networks that will help to support your businesses over the long-term.

  • Consider investing time with a business mentor. Our study showed that mentors can be an excellent sounding board for new ideas, and deal with strategic and operational challenges.
  • Evaluate possible collaborations and partnerships according to strategic fit. A flow of new resources is meaningless without a clear strategic sense of fit.
  • Use opportunities to present your work as a chance to grow a wider network beyond your immediate sector / industry.