Myself and a group of friends are researching the idea of setting up a nearly new children's shop as a business in our area. I am seeking advice about what "business type" would suit our idea as am baffled by all the information online. It was suggested that a social enterprise would be the best way to go, but there are several types and the legal jargon is a bit confusing. There are 6 interested parties and our mission statement is currently as follows...
Our shared vision is to create, develop and grow a successful business aiming to provide attractive, high quality nearly new children’s products. We envisage an accessible enterprise for the spectrum of our community and affordable options for all. We see a business that is ethical in operation and can provide a relaxed, informal base for information sharing and support throughout parenthood. Run by local business women who are also mothers we wish to add value to our local area.
Do we/can we fit the social enterprise criteria and if so, what business sub-type would be best and where do we start?
Thanks in advance,
Sorry, just catching up on board posts. Did you find the answer you were looking for, or would you still like one?
Social Enterprise is an entertaining area, as its definitions are - as you've discovered - rather blurry and hugely open to interpretation.
You may fit a type of social enterprise called a Community Interest Company (CIC). The general rule is that if you're a charity first, trading to support your activities, you can become a general 'social enterprise', but if you're a business first (as you say you are) with philanthropic leanings, probably head towards a CIC. There isn't a lot in it really, although you will cut off most trust funding by not being a charity.
On the other hand, this post on Social Investment Funding might be useful to you - a recently published government list of funding available to social businesses.
You might also like to try giving BusinessLink a call: 0845 600 9006 9am-6pm Monday to Friday. They have free advisors and a wealth of knowledge on the Private Sector. If you're definitely a business, approach it from that angle. If you're definitely a charity, approach it from that angle. Once you're set up as one or the other, you can explore ways to cross the sectors. Yes, the lines blur, but the modus operandi remain separate for establishing each body.
Good luck with it. If you get stuck, shout.