21 Startup Ideas for Social Entrepreneurs

Best Social Enterprise Ideas to Launch Today

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  • Startup Ideas
  • Best Startup Ideas
  • Social Entrepreneurs

Last Updated: September 29, 2023 By TRUiC Team

If you’re someone who wants to make a difference in your community and the world, you might just be the ideal social entrepreneur. Social entrepreneurs are business owners that develop a startup with the goal to make a social or environmental impact.

Whether it’s building a tool or providing a service for existing charities — a social enterprise is a much-needed part of the modern American fabric. Learn more about how to start a social startup by reading our list of the top social entrepreneurship ideas, and start making a positive change today.

Also Recommended: Check out our full list of the best startup ideas and our guide on how to start a startup .

Social Entrepreneurship Ideas

The social enterprise space is phenomenally diverse and presents a wide range of startup ideas. If you're looking to help implement real change in the world and simultaneously start a successful business, then you'll definitely want to take a look at the social entrepreneurship ideas we've sourced.  

From helping to fund other startups to breaking down the barriers to education, there's a social enterprise idea for everyone.

1. Crowdfunding Platform

Crowdfunding platforms are a useful tool for entrepreneurs, charitable causes, and individuals to raise money and reach their financial goals. To create a successful crowdfunding platform that is able to compete with other trusted platforms, you’ll need to create a unique idea or function that sets your platform apart. This could be a network of investors, advertisement opportunities, or specified crowdfunding topics such as real estate.

2. Food Waste Solution

With at least one-quarter of the food produced in the US going to waste every year, food waste solutions are a booming part of the startup space. Finding ways to recycle waste food and put it to good use is not just beneficial to those who may be struggling financially, it's also become a trendy way for higher-income consumers to prove their commitment to sustainability and reduce their own carbon footprint. The food waste solution market is not just consumer-focused, though, because these startups are simultaneously helping food producers to improve their profit margin. A knowledge of the FMCG space is certainly beneficial if you would like to venture into this industry.  

Also recommended: Get inspired by these startups addressing food waste and hunger .

3. Clean Energy

Next up on our list of social enterprise ideas is clean energy. It’s no secret that clean energy is growing in both popularity and necessity. A clean energy startup can be either a product or service that takes a green approach to produce energy such as electricity-generating bicycles or solar paneling. Developing concepts and executing your business idea will require either knowledge of clean energy or the support of someone who has this knowledge.

Recommended:  Check out our full list of  startup ideas for green entrepreneurs .

4. Microlending Business

A microlending business loans small amounts of money to people who cannot qualify for loans through other institutions. Normally, this startup charges a fairly high interest rate to its customers to mitigate risk if the borrower defaults on their loan. In underserved areas, microlending businesses can help provide communities with opportunities to introduce much-needed resources to their local communities.

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5. Ethical Online Marketplace

With more people at home than ever, the convenience of shopping online has grown in popularity. However, this doesn’t mean that the marketplaces available are providing products that are ethically sourced, made, or sold. That’s where you come in! An online ethical marketplace provides a platform for ethically made goods to be found and purchased by interested consumers.

6. Fair Trade Subscription Box

There are subscription boxes for everything these days. To lower costs, however, many businesses opt to sell products that the makers aren’t adequately compensated for. A fair trade subscription box startup provides the ease and excitement of a subscription box while introducing consumers to fairly traded, handcrafted products that they can feel good about purchasing.

7. Edtech Startup

Next on our list of social entrepreneurship ideas is edtech. With more schools adjusting to online teaching, an edtech startup could give students an easier route to education. Whether it is for K-12 education or college-level students, the time to develop technology to enhance online learning is now.

Make this startup unique and socially responsible by doing your research on the problems schools face today with their eLearning software or equipment, and work to develop a product that smoothes the creases in online teaching.

Learn more about starting an edtech startup from the founders of  Trashbots !

Also recommended: Check out our full list of  startup ideas for education entrepreneurs .

8. Special Needs Services

Providing services to special needs communities can be a great way to make the world a better place and give those living in difficult circumstances the help they need at the same time. Special needs can mean anything from the elderly to those living with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. The first step to founding a special needs service startup is identifying a problem that needs to be solved. Some recent special needs services startups that have hit the mark include Bluereo, which developed a specialized toothbrush for people with disabilities who struggle with the mouth movements associated with brushing their teeth. If you or someone you are close to lives with special needs, you may be uniquely qualified to found a startup in this space.

9. Sustainable Materials 

The demand for sustainable materials has increased dramatically in the last decade. Construction companies, product manufacturers, and consumers alike all want to know that the products they make and buy are not contributing to the decimation of resources anywhere in the world. As a result, many new startups are taking on the challenge of providing sustainable building and production materials. Many sustainable material startups use big data and AI to create their offering and provide raw materials that reduce production costs and are less harmful to the environment.

Check out our interview with the founder of sustainable materials startup Hempitecture .

10. Educational Travel

Educational travel is a combination of well-planned tours, location visits, and cultural immersion, all set with clear learning objectives in mind. With the world embracing travel again, this space is booming, and there is opportunity for startups at every level. Whether you're building an app that helps to plan educational travel trips or creating a service that hosts such tours, there's no doubt that, with a bit of tourism experience, you can definitely find a niche in this space.

Check out our interview with the founder of travel startup Citycatt .

11. Clean Beauty Products

The clean beauty market has seen significant growth in the last few years, and that upward trend is not expected to stop any time soon. Clean beauty products are created mindfully without toxic ingredients and with clear labeling that gives the consumer peace of mind about what they are purchasing. Much of this segment is focused on the use of natural ingredients rather than chemicals or man-made components. Opportunity in this sector will depend on your market accessibility and the magnitude of the problem you're solving. Often, solutions for those who experience adverse reactions to certain products are your best bet for a successful offering.

Recommended:  Get inspired by these clean beauty startups .

12. Water Purification

Unfortunately, there are plenty of places in the US and across the globe that don't have access to safe, healthy drinking water. Your startup could be the answer to providing people with usable water. Whether you develop a portable water purification tool or an entire system for homes and businesses, this startup idea has the potential for high profits as well as a strong social impact.

Launching your own company? Build your startup website today with GoDaddy !

13. Online Courses

You probably know the saying that knowledge is power, so it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to have access to a good education. Sharing knowledge through online courses makes education more accessible and provides a service for people interested in learning the skills you have to teach them.

To make this a socially-focused startup idea, gear your online courses towards teaching valuable skills that can help students find employment or enhance their quality of life.

14. Sustainable Clothing Line

Fashion is one of the most wasteful industries on the planet. If you’re thinking about starting a clothing line, consider making it a sustainable one! A sustainable clothing line can make an impact by creating thoughtful garments that are long-lasting and ethically made out of sustainable materials such as linen or hemp.

Get inspired by these sustainable clothing startups .

15. Charity App

Creating an app is one of the most popular startup ideas. Make philanthropy more accessible by creating a charity app. This could be an easy space to crowdfund for charities, make donations, or fulfill a need in your community. Since most adults have smartphones, a charity app startup can provide an easier way for charities to gain the funding and support they need in order to help the people who need it most.

16. Climate Tech Solution

There's no doubt that climate change is a hot topic right now and rightfully so. With the powerful technology we have access to in terms of AI and big data, it seems fitting that this tech should be applied to one of the most important issues facing the human race. If you're interested in joining the climate tech solution space as a startup, there are two prerequisites: your offering needs to solve a problem that contributes to climate change, and it needs to be a tech-based solution.

Check out our interview with the founder of climate tech startup Bluebird Climate .

17. Farm-to-Table Startup

As consumers become more aware of the impact that food choices have on their health and on the environment, sourcing produce directly from farms, essentially cutting out the large supermarket chains, has become a very popular trend. Farm-to-table startups have a wide range in which to operate. There is tech required for ecommerce and inventory management on the farm's end, and on the customer's end, there are online marketplaces, delivery methods, and payment solutions to explore. 

18. Volunteering Platform

There are many people in the world who have the time and inclination to volunteer but simply don't know where to start. Volunteering platforms can help steer these people in the right direction and benefit charitable organizations at the same time. Founding a volunteering platform startup can begin quite simply with scope for growth. Niches in this space can include specific locations, types of organizations, forms of volunteer work, and even certain target markets such as corporates who want to get their team members involved in volunteering as a team-building activity.

19. Fintech Startup

A fintech startup is defined by the combination of technology with a financial services focus on improving service delivery to businesses or consumers within the space. This startup offers a lot of potential for entrepreneurs who have a creative idea to make finances and investing more attainable. Often, founders who are successful in this space have encountered some type of breakdown in service delivery in the financial sector themselves and found a solution which they then package as an offering. 

Check out our interview with fintech startup Do Good Points !

20. Smart Mobility

Moving people and products around in a sustainable and emission-friendly manner has become an important focus. With more people choosing not to drive their own vehicles, smart mobility solutions are in demand. Uber proved this when they disrupted the space with their solution, and since then, more smart mobility entrepreneurs have found ways to improve upon this. In this space, you can choose to focus on any point in the spectrum, from pedestrian safety to direction services and even last-mile delivery.  

21. Mental Health Startup

The increased interest in and awareness of the importance of mental health in the last decade or so is certainly a positive shift for humanity. This increased focus has also brought with it opportunities for startup founders in the mental health space . Whether it's a service, an app, or a product, if you've got an idea that will fit into the mental health industry, get on it now.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our list of the top startups to watch in 2023 !

What is a social enterprise?

Social enterprises are startups or businesses that aim to make a positive change in the world. Social enterprises are for-profit organizations, but what sets them apart is how they choose to make those profits. Such organizations will have social objectives as their primary goal and use a commercial structure to operate the organization.

How does a social enterprise work?

In some instances, social enterprises may donate or reinvest some of their profits to implement this positive social change, or the very nature of their service or product may do so on its own. Social enterprises often aim to have a strong impact on society while simultaneously maximizing their profits and then using that to fund social programs.

What are examples of social entrepreneurship?

Sekem produces herbal, medicinal, aesthetically focused, and gastronomical products that serve the needs of its customer base. Its social impact includes building biodynamic farms, building educational establishments for children, and building a healthcare center devoted to holistic medicine. Jamie Oliver's Fifteen, offered disadvantaged young people a way to create better future opportunities by training in the food industry. Indian startup, Jaipur Rugs, produces socially responsible and high-quality floor coverings and simultaneously empowers local artisans by helping them to connect with the global market.

How do I come up with social entrepreneurship ideas?

This process is not too different from coming up with any business idea , but the focus will always need to be on ultimately doing good. As with anything, you'll always find more success if you get involved in something you're passionate about, so make that your starting point. Then, find the problem that needs to be solved. That solution is your social entrepreneurship offering. If you are not directly affected by the problem you're attempting to solve, be sure to consult with those who are living the experience to ensure that you have considered all the aspects of the issue. 

Explore More Startup Ideas

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  • Sustainable Startup Ideas
  • Startup Ideas for Education Entrepreneurs
  • Startup Ideas for Teens
  • Tech Startup Ideas
  • Startup Ideas for Food Lovers
  • Side Hustle Startup Ideas
  • Ecommerce Startup Ideas
  • Low-Cost Startup Ideas
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About the Author

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social business plan ideas

Social Enterprise Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

social enterprise business plan template

Social Enterprise Business Plan

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 500 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their social enterprise businesses. On this page, we will first give you some background information with regards to the importance of business planning. We will then go through a social enterprise business plan template step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your social enterprise business as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

Why You Need a Business Plan

If you’re looking to start a social enterprise business, or grow your existing social enterprise business, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your social enterprise business in order to improve your chances of success. Your social enterprise business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.

Sources of Funding for Social Enterprise Businesses

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for a social enterprise business are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Personal savings and bank loans are the most common funding paths for social enterprise businesses.

How to Write a Business Plan for a Social Enterprise

If you want to start a social enterprise business or expand your current one, you need a business plan. Below are links to each section of your social enterprise business plan template:

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of social enterprise business you are operating and the status. For example, are you a startup, do you have a social enterprise business that you would like to grow, or are you operating social enterprise businesses in multiple markets?

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. For example, give a brief overview of the social enterprise industry. Discuss the type of social enterprise business you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers. Provide a snapshot of your marketing plan. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.

Company Analysis

In your company analysis, you will detail the type of social enterprise business you are operating.

For example, you might operate one of the following types of social enterprise businesses:

  • Trading social enterprise : this type of social enterprise refers to cooperatives, collectives, and other organizations that are worker or employee-owned. This type of ownership structure allows a higher degree of economic resiliency compared to a traditional organization.
  • Financial social enterprise: this type of social enterprise includes credit unions, cooperative banks, and revolving loan funds, which are all membership-owned. In other words, the money deposited from a member is used to help other members who may need financial assistance.
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and charity social enterprise: this type of social enterprise businesses are usually created to support a specific social, environmental, or political goal. The profits are used to further the social or environmental aims of the organization or to provide salaries for people who provide free services to specific groups of people.

In addition to explaining the type of social enterprise business you will operate, the Company Analysis section of your business plan needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to question such as:

  • When and why did you start the business?
  • What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include the number of clients served, number of positive reviews, reaching X amount of clients served, etc.
  • Your legal structure. Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.

Industry Analysis

In your industry analysis, you need to provide an overview of the social enterprise industry.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the social enterprise industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating. 

Secondly, market research can improve your strategy, particularly if your research identifies market trends.

The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your social enterprise business plan:

  • How big is the social enterprise industry (in dollars)?
  • Is the market declining or increasing?
  • Who are the key competitors in the market?
  • Who are the key suppliers in the market?
  • What trends are affecting the industry?
  • What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential market for your social enterprise business? You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your social enterprise business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments:non-profits, individuals, social causes, etc.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of social enterprise business you operate. Clearly, social causes would respond to different marketing promotions than individuals needing financial assistance, for example.

Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, include a discussion of the ages, genders, locations and income levels of the customers you seek to serve.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.

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Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are other social enterprise companies. 

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t direct competitors. This includes social enterprise companies such as brand awareness companies, community organizations, government programs, etc.

With regards to direct competition, you want to describe the other social enterprises with which you compete. Most likely, your direct competitors will be social enterprise businesses located very close to your location.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:

  • What clients or causes do they serve?
  • What type of social enterprise company are they?
  • What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
  • What are they good at?
  • What are their weaknesses?

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

  • Will you provide social enterprise services that your competitors don’t offer?
  • Will your social enterprise business help more people in need?
  • Will you provide better customer service?
  • Will you offer better pricing?

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a social enterprise business plan, your marketing plan should include the following:

Product : In the product section, you should reiterate the type of social enterprise company that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific products you will be offering. For example, in addition to social enterprise services, will you provide access to funding, marketing, counseling, and/or brand awareness, and any other services?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your marketing plan, you are presenting the services you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the location of your social enterprise company. Document your location and mention how the location will impact your success. For example, is your social enterprise business located near an office complex, a university, an urban setting, or a busy neighborhood, etc. Discuss how your location might be the ideal location for your customers.

Promotions : The final part of your social enterprise marketing plan is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

  • Website and SEO marketing
  • Community events
  • Commercials
  • Social media marketing
  • Local radio advertising

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your social enterprise business, including communicating with clients, marketing, accounting, accounts payable, fundraising, and searching for grant opportunities.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to obtain your XXth client, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your social enterprise business to a new location.

Management Team

To demonstrate your social enterprise business’ ability to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company. 

Ideally you and/or your team members have direct experience in managing social enterprises. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act like mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in managing a social enterprise business or are connected to a wide network of professional organizations that frequently tend to donate to various causes.

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements.

Income Statement : an income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you take on one new service at a time or multiple services ? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets : Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your social enterprise business, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement : Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and make sure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt. 

In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a social enterprise business:

  • Cost of social enterprise services
  • Cost of overhead, marketing, and outreach
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Business insurance
  • Taxes and permits
  • Legal expenses

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your social enterprise outline of services, types of customer and/or cause you will be targeting, and the areas your social enterprise business will serve.

Putting together a business plan for your social enterprise business is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will really understand the social enterprise industry, your competition, and your customers. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful social enterprise business.

Social Enterprise Business Plan FAQs

What is the easiest way to complete my social enterprise business plan.

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily complete your Social Enterprise Business Plan.

What is the Goal of a Business Plan's Executive Summary?

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of social enterprise business you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup, do you have a social enterprise business that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of social enterprise businesses?

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your Social Enterprise business plan?

OR, Let Us Develop Your Plan For You

Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies who have gone on to achieve tremendous success.

Click here to hire someone to write a business plan for you from Growthink’s team.  

Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

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  • Entrepreneurship

12 New Social Entrepreneurship Ideas for 2022

Chris Beer

Idea To Income

How to start a company and turn your entrepreneurial dreams into reality, in this article, what is social entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship statistics, triple bottom line, how to start a social entrepreneurship cause , strive for b corp status or be a leader in your industry, social entrepreneurship ideas.

Every idea starts with someone looking to solve a prroblem.

For the founders of Warby Parker, the problem was the high cost of prescription glasses. Looking at the industry, they found that the eyewear was dominated by a single company, keeping prices inflated. 

In 2010, Warby Parker was founded as a way to create an alternative retail channel. They also saw another problem.

They realized that billions of people around the world needed glasses but didn’t have access to them (2.5 billion people, to be specific). Of these, 624 million cannot effectively learn or work due to the severity of their visual impairment.

Warby Parker launched a program called “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” to ensure that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair was and still is distributed to someone in need.

Today, over five million pairs of glasses have been distributed through their Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program.

This is just one example of how companies and organizations around the world are solving problems for the greater good — something called social entrepreneurship. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at:

  • what social entrepreneurship is
  • how social entrepreneurship works and its increasing relevancy 
  • explore specific social entrepreneurship ideas 
  • help you find out if this industry is right for you

Let’s get started! 

Social Entrepreneur definition

Social entrepreneurship is a buzzy word, so let’s break down the concept. 

By definition, a social entrepreneur is a person or group interested in starting a business for greater social good — not just the pursuit of profits. 

While earning a profit is top of mind for many entrepreneurs , social entrepreneurship ideas are unique in that they combine the foundations of best business practices with a desire to make a positive impact on the world.

There are three types of social entrepreneurship causes: for profit, not for profit and hybrid. 

Let’s break down the nuances of each model. 

A for-profit company has the flexibility to bring in investors, who in turn are rewarded with a share of the revenue. However, they are not able to receive donations or grants . 

There is no limit on a for-profit company’s ability to generate revenue by providing goods and services , and all for-profit companies must pay taxes. 

Not for Profit

There are various kinds of not for profits, but the most common is one that seeks tax-exempt status through Section 501(c)(3) . 

These types of organizations are eligible to receive tax-deductible donations . 

If you’re looking to create this type of organization, you would want to consider this model if your business is operating in a field with significant opportunities for grants, such as education or healthcare. 

As the name suggests, this model has limitations with regards to revenue. 

All of the money made must go back into the organization — there is no "profit sharing" among members. If there is, the organization will risk losing its 501(c)(3) status. 

This model is a blend of the for-profit and not for profit structures. 

In this scenario, there are two related entities, for-profit and a not for profit, that serve one mission. 

Revenue from the for-profit flows to the not for profit as a way of funding its mission. 

This structure benefits flexible funding options (access to both grants and donations as well as individual investors) and no limit on revenue generation, as long as the sales take place under the for-profit umbrella. 

The structure can be complicated but it is advantageous to many social entrepreneurs due to the flexibility it allows. 

One falsehood that may keep entrepreneurs from putting social entrepreneurship ideas into action is the thought that social entrepreneurs don’t make enough money to keep their programs sustainable. 

Here’s the reality: consumers actually prioritize the ethos of a company over price, according to a survey from SAP. 

Here are a few more statistics showing how popular social entrepreneurship products are, according to CauseArtist .

Social entrepreneurship statistics

When done right, social entrepreneurship can be a sustainable effort.

In essence, social entrepreneurship ideas are rooted in the “ Triple Bottom Line ” model — going beyond the traditional measures of profits, return on investment, and shareholder value to include environmental and social dimensions.

Triple Bottom Line was a concept coined by serial entrepreneur John Elkington, citing that a balance sheet should extend beyond dollars, with a focus on three key components: 

Let’s look at the “3 P’s” – People, Planet and Profit – and three examples of companies that incorporate these principles into their business models.

People: Causebox  

Social entrepreneurs think about the impact their business has on the people around them: 

  • their employees 
  • their suppliers 
  • their consumers
  • he greater community

The founders of Causebox took the concept of subscription boxes and chose to make an impact with their choice of suppliers. 

The quarterly shipments include six to eight socially conscious products for women — in categories such as:

  • apparel and jewelry
  • beauty products

Each company gives back in its own way, ranging from artisan impact and empowerment programs to radically sustainable skincare formulations. 

Beyond supporting the suppliers with their purchases, Causebox strives to create a connection by including information on who made their product, the story of why that person made their product and what inspired them to start their company.

Planet: Method Home  

These are companies that make an effort to reduce or eliminate their ecological footprint. 

With a tagline of “people against dirty,” Method Home is in business to change business. 

How are they doing that? Method makes cleaning products that use non-toxic ingredients. 

With a focus on sustainability, the company utilizes recycled plastic in its packaging. 

In addition to the product, Method’s corporate headquarters was designed with its mission in mind. 

Three solar tracking trees are utilized in the parking lot and the company has its own 230-foot wind turbine. 

The “green roof” serves as the planting ground for urban agriculture company Gotham Greens. 

These eco-friendly choices are also friendly to Method’s bottom line, serving as ways to reduce fixed costs and generate ancillary income.

Profit: Leesa Mattress  

While every business aims to turn a profit, Triple Bottom Businesses view profits as an engine for their greater giving. 

Many companies, like Leesa Mattress, tie a purchase with the promise of giving products to those in need. 

Combining People, Planet, and Profit, Leesa has three philanthropic pillars: 

  • giving one mattress for every ten sold
  • planting one tree for every mattress sold
  • devoting resources to national and local organizations

Since 2014, Leesa has donated 35,000 mattresses to over 1,000 nonprofits and has committed to planting one million trees by 2025. 

They also give staff paid time off to volunteer at local food banks, shelters, and charities.

Social entrepreneurship is not a one-size-fits-all idea. 

No matter the size or focus of your company, you can build a profitable business that makes a tremendous impact and changes lives for the better. 

Do You Have The Passion?

Social entrepreneurship ideas: successfull social entrepreneurship causes are rooted in a passion for solving a problem

Successful social entrepreneurship causes are rooted in a passion for solving a problem. 

So how do you develop that passion? 

How can you take a different approach to solving that problem? 

Understand The Problem

The first step is to understand what the problem is that you’d like to help solve. 

  • Travel the world  
  • Ask people about their passions 
  • Be open to new experiences and new ways of thinking

After that, take time to understand the community that you aim to help and tailor your approach to the unique needs of the situation. 

Create The Idea 

After identifying your passion, brainstorm about specific, actionable things that you can do to solve the problem. 

If you still can’t identify a problem you are passionate about solving, here are social entrepreneurship ideas that you can explore. 

12 Social Entrepreneurship Ideas

12 Social Entrepreneurship Ideas

Business Plan

Once your social entrepreneurship ideas list is refined and you know what you want to do, the next step is creating a business plan that includes the following:

  • your company description (what you do and how you differ from the competition) 
  • a market analysis (snapshot of current competitors) 
  • financial projections
  • marketing plan

Prepare yourself for the grind of running a business. The reality is that there will be days that are filled with excitement and positive momentum, and there will be days that require patience and determination. 

Keep going and don’t lose focus on the passion that brought you to the business. 

The next step after choosing a social entrepreneurship plan is to focus on funding. You may need to get creative with how you raise money. 

Not for Profit Business Model 

Crowdfunding sites, such as Kickstarter , Fundable , and GoFundMe , have been a popular tools in turning a vision into reality, especially when the mission of the business resonates with the beliefs of the funding community. 

Aside from the financial benefits of these crowdfunding sites, you will reap other rewards while pitching your concept. You’ll build brand awareness, gauge demand, gather feedback and build a following. 

Due to the guidelines of the Kickstarter and Fundable platforms, you’ll also be prompted to make a cohesive business plan, set goals and tap into your social network in order to turn on the green light for your project. 

When building your pitch, clearly state your mission and how you’ll accomplish it. As a social entrepreneur , in a financial sense, your business is no different than any other for-profit business. 

You want to define a problem, show your solution and demonstrate how you will structure a sustainable business around it. 

Hybrid Business Model 

If part of your plan involves partnering with a nonprofit organization as a beneficiary, do your homework before forging an alliance. Ask questions like :

  • How will my company’s contributions be used?
  • What are your organization’s operating costs?
  • Where does most of your funding come from? What percentage of your budget comes from private donations, and what do private donations help you to do that your other sources of funding don’t cover?
  • What are your most urgent needs?
  • What would make the greatest difference in helping your organization get better at what it does?

For Profit Business Model 

It’s important to note that in order to create a sustainable impact, your business needs to be profitable. 

Your business is designed to generate profits, but to do it ethically.

Social entrepreneurship ideas: the greater your profits, the larger your pool of resources to make an impact

The greater your profits, the larger your pool of resources to make an impact. 

When building your profit margins, make sure to leave wiggle room to incorporate the budget to fund your social impact goals without pricing yourself out of the market. 

Be mindful of your competitors and their pricing . 

As mentioned in the earlier study, consumers are more socially aware than ever before and will pay a little more to support a company that aligns with their ethos.

Starting your own social entrepreneurship cause

Once you have your social entrepreneurship ideas up and running, you can shift your focus to a new goal: earning a B Corp Certification . 

Founded in 2006 as a tool to help mission-driven companies protect and improve their positive impact over time, B.Lab has emerged as the gold star status in the world of socially conscious businesses. 

B Lab is the nonprofit that certifies B Corporations, and they use a Triple Bottom Line framework for their B Impact Assessment. 

You may have seen the “B” logo brandished as a badge of honor on marketing materials for:

  • New Belgium Brewing

How do businesses attain B Corp status? 

Based on the size and complexity of the organization, the process takes between 1-3 months and costs between $500-$1,000. 

The assessment takes place through an online questionnaire that takes about an hour to complete. 

The B Lab rating system evaluates how companies create value for their employees, clients, the local community and the environment. 

The certification is good for one year, at which point the company needs to reapply for the status. 

How do you know if your business is eligible for B Corp status? 

Earning a B Corp certificate is open to for-profit companies. 

Your business can apply for B Corp certification whether it’s organized as a:

  • partnership 
  • a limited liability company (LLC)
  • incorporated as a traditional C corporation

And if you do get certified, your underlying legal business structure remains the same. 

Startups can't earn B Corp status until they have been in business 12 months but they can apply for a certification-pending seal.

While going through the B Corp certification process is important for visibility, but it’s not the most important part of building a socially responsible business. 

If your social entrepreneurship cause isn’t for profit, instead strive to be the industry leader in exceeding expectations in impact and standards. 

You can use your business to be the driving force behind creating change around the world. You just need a social entrepreneurship idea.

Aside from the day to day activities , the business plan, meetings and more, the most important part of being a social entrepreneur is truly believing in the mission of your business, which stems back to the problem you and your organization are passionately trying to solve. 

So what is your passion? 

And what problem are you t rying to solve? 

About The Author

Chris Beer

WealthFit Contributor

The Founder of B.Well Consulting, Chris Beer has a diverse background that is rooted in finance, driven by data, grounded by giving, fueled by entrepreneurial passion and made possible by hard work and grit. 

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22 Awesome Social Enterprise Ideas and Examples

social business plan ideas

There are several ways you can go about searching for social enterprise ideas. Seeing examples of social enterprise in action is one of these best ways to get inspired for what you might want to create!

Social enterprise ideas, unlike conventional business ideas, typically result from a desire to solve a social need; similar to how many non-profit and charity organizations find their beginning.

As the message of merging business acumen and innovation with the task of building lasting social change spreads, and along with increasing numbers of powerful examples of positive change manifesting around the world, the social enterprise movement continues to gain traction. With this entrepreneurial approach to diversifying funding streams, an organization can be freed from “strings-attached” grant funding and often unreliable corporate or individual donations.

Before sharing a list of social entrepreneurship examples in action, let’s address a few of the most commonly asked questions about social enterprise:

How is a social enterprise different from a business?

Traditional business ideas can also come from identifying a social need but the difference between a social enterprise and a traditional business is the motivation of the entrepreneur. The primary motivation for a traditional entrepreneur is more-often-than-not a desire to make money whereas a social entrepreneur is driven fist and foremost by a passion to solve a social problem. Setting up as a business or using market principles (i.e. selling products or services) is used as a mechanism to solve the social or environmental problems they seek to impact.

What are the main objectives of a social enterprise?

Because of the different motivations that drive the two types of entrepreneurs, we must consider that their businesses will function a bit differently. We often hear the business world talk about focusing on the bottom line business practices that lead to increased monetary profitability. In comparison, social businesses focus on double – or triple – bottom line business practices that lead to social, environmental AND economic profitability. Acumen  defines social enterprise as:  “Any enterprise that prioritizes transformative social impact while striving for financial sustainability.”

What qualifies as a social enterprise?

Social Enterprise  is the practice of using market-based, entrepreneurial strategies for the purpose of progressing an organization’s social or environmental impact. Social Enterprises can take many forms and are not restricted to one particular legal structure or business model design. “Social Entrepreneurship uses business models – selling products or services – to solve social problems.” –  Trico Foundation “ Organizations that address a basic unmet need or solve a social problem through a market-driven approach.” –  Social Business Alliance

How does a social enterprise work?

With goals to achieve both social impact and financial sustainability, social enterprises look to a unique set of business models to achieve their goals. Some of the most common business model frameworks social enterprises use are: 1.  Cross-Compensation  – One group of customers pays for the service. Profits from this group are used to subsidize the service for another, underserved group. 2.  Fee for Service  – Beneficiaries pay directly for the goods or services provided by the social enterprise. 3. Employment and skills training  – The core purpose is to provide living wages, skills development, and job training to the beneficiaries: the employees. 4.  Market Intermediary  – The social enterprise acts as an intermediary, or distributor, to an expanded market. The beneficiaries are the suppliers of the product and/or service that is being distributed to an international market. 5.  Market Connector  – The social enterprise facilitates trade relationships between beneficiaries and new markets. 6. Independent Support  – The social enterprise delivers a product or service to an external market that is separate from the beneficiary and social impact generated. Funds are used to support social programs to the beneficiary. 7. Cooperative  – A for-profit or nonprofit business that is owned by its members who also use its services, providing virtually any type of goods or services.

Can a social enterprise be for profit?

Yes, social enterprises can take on any legal structure! A social enterprise approach is only a means to an end: the profit-making strategies are not in place for profit maximization but are in place as an essential component to bring about social or environmental change in a meaningful and long term way.

What is an example of social enterprise?

Aravind Eye Care  is one of the earliest examples of a social enterprise model at work. This renowned Indian organization is designed to let people pay what they can. Aravind provides cataract surgery and other eye care services to any one who comes for it regardless of their ability to pay. Those who can afford to pay market price, do, and those who can’t, don’t. Amazingly, the number of patients who chose to pay covers the cost of providing care to the entire client base, allowing for wholistic care for all who need it.

Now let’s look at our list of 22 Awesome Social Enterprise Examples!

Social supermarket.

social business plan ideas

(Business Model: Fee for Service. Example:  Community Shop ) – Create a food market that sells food to low-income communities at a discounted price. Discounted food is donated (or purchased very cheaply) from food suppliers and other supermarkets, who cannot sell the food themselves for a variety of reasons such as approaching expiry dates, dented cans, and product mislabeling.

Used Textbooks for Social Change

Social Change

(Business Model: Cross-compensation and Independent Support. Example:  Textbooks for Change ) – Partner with student groups/clubs to collect used textbooks at the end of each semester. Students donate their used textbooks. Some of the textbooks are re-sold to students at the college/university of their collection source; some of the textbooks are donated to students in need at underserved universities in the developing world. The profits are split between the student groups/clubs, program administration costs, and any remaining funds are used to support social programs in developing communities.

Online Socially Conscious Marketplace

Online market

(Business Model: Market Connector. Examples:  ArtZoco  and  eBatuta ) – Help underserved artisans sell their products to the world by building a platform that makes it easy for them. Artisans can either manage their online store directly, or the platform can act merely as a listing service that connects the artisans face-to-face with buyers. Revenue is created by either charging listing fees directly to the artisan, via a commission on goods sold, or built-in as a premium fee to the buyer. Profit generated can be used to fund social services that directly affect the artisan communities.

Sustainable Water  

Sustainable Water

(Business Model: Fee for Service. Example:  Water Health International ) – Build small water purification stations in communities in developing countries using off-the-shelf products. Initial funds to build it can come from traditional charitable methods, or through debt/equity financing; the communities can be partial owners (or full owners, if using cooperative business model). Ongoing costs to maintain and staff the water station come from the sale of purified water to its beneficiaries, but at near break-even levels, costing almost nothing for the beneficiaries.

Micro Lending  

Micro Leding

(Business Model: Market Connector. Example:  Kiva)  – Create a platform for individuals and organizations to lend money directly to entrepreneurs who would otherwise not get funding, such as those in the developing world. Charge a small fee to cover the operational costs.

Social Crowdfunding  

Crowd Funding

(Business Model: Market Connector. Example:  Start Some Good ) – Build a platform for social entrepreneurs to find groups of funders. Similar to the Micro Lending platform, but lenders take a promise of something in the future in return for ‘donating’ a bit of money to the Social Entrepreneur’s project now. Charge a small fee to cover the operational costs of the platform.

Baking/Cooking for a Social Cause  

Baking for a social cause

(Business Model: Employment and Skills Training. Example:  Edgar and Joe’s ) – Open a bakery/restaurant or another food-providing establishment that focuses on building employment skills for underemployed groups, such as at-risk youth or former drug addicts. The profit from sales of food and beverage go to wages, training, and social betterment programs for the staff-beneficiaries.

Efficient Wood Stoves for Developing World  


(Business Model: Cross-Compensation. Example:  Bio Lite ) – Millions of women in developing countries suffer from cardiopulmonary diseases as a direct result of breathing in wood smoke on a daily basis. Build a more efficient stove to solve this problem. Sell the stoves at or above market rate to those who can afford it, and use the money from the sale of the stoves to partly subsidize the cost for those who cannot afford it.

Innovative Information Product  

Innovative Products

(Business model: Cross-Compensation. Example:  Information Blanket ) – Create a baby blanket with information about how to take care of a baby, such as when to immunize, how big a baby should be at a specific age, and how often to feed the baby. The regions where baby education is scarce are the same regions where income tends to be low. Therefore, these blankets could be given freely to new mothers in low-income areas, while they could be sold to new mothers in wealthier areas. Proceeds from sales would fund blankets and education for new mothers in poor areas.

Micro Power Generation

Micro power generation

(Business Model: Fee for Service. Examples:  Husk Power ) – Provide micro-electric solutions for remote applications in the developing world. Two ways you could do this are to create a stand-alone power system from used, rechargeable batteries to power classrooms. Or, you could create a mini power plant that uses biomass produced by the humans, plants, and animals of an off-grid village. These types of systems are very cheap to build and implement and can be paid for on a fee-for-usage basis. This idea might also lend itself well as a cooperative.

Socially Conscious Consumer Electronics

social business plan ideas

(Business Model: Fee for Service and Market Intermediary. Examples:  Fair Phone .) Build a new kind of consumer electronic device; one that is built with conflict-free materials, provides fair wages to the workers who build it, offers a fair and transparent price for the end consumer, and does not engage in unfair consumer practices (such as locking smartphones, or creating proprietary software/hardware interfaces).

Education Books on a Social Topic


(Business Model: Fee for Service and independent support. Example:  Chef’s Collaborative Network ) Create a book or other educational publication, whose benefit is easily understood and salable. Learning about the topic of the social education book should benefit the reader, such as a recipe book that focuses on recipes that promote sustainable food culture. The proceeds from the book are used to support education initiatives along with the same topic and to group who will have the most impact and benefit. In the case of sustainable food preparation practices, the target education group would-be chefs.

Ultra-Modern Technology to Attract Economic Development

ultramodern technology

(Business Model: Fee for Service. Cooperative. Example:  O-Net ) A small community normally doesn’t have much to offer a business, unless you make it a place that has the best business service in one area. For instance, you could create an internet service that is owned by the community and provides internet access at ten-times the bandwidth for the same price as those in another community would have to pay. The cost could be subsidized by the community, but it would attract high-tech businesses to locate in the community, fueling the local economy and benefiting everyone in it.

Beauty Products to Support a Social Mission

social business plan ideas

(Business Model: Independent Support. Example:  Bottle 4 Bottle .) Partner with major beauty brands to sell their products as an online retailer. Convince them to provide their products to you at a favorable wholesale rate, and divert the profits to purchasing milk and baby bottles for distribution in the developing world.

A Virtual Factory of Computer Workers

social business plan ideas

(Business Model: Employment and Skills Training. Example:  Cloud Factory .) Build an online community of computer workers, hired from underemployed communities. Train each of them to do one computer-related thing well (ie. writing functions in a particular programming language, translating code for a specific and common API, etc.) Combine dozens of them to complete a product, such as a website, for a client that would normally only require 1 or 2 people. Because each person is highly micro-specialized, the larger team forms as a virtual ‘assembly line’ to finish the project faster, cheaper, and with a higher quality standard than the traditional method of locally hiring or outsourcing a broad-range knowledge worker. Virtual assembly line workers enjoy employment with higher wages than they would normally receive doing menial work.

A marketplace for social good

Market place

(Business Model: Market Intermediary. Example:  Do Good Buy Us  and  Ten Thousand Villages .) Sell socially and ethically conscious products in a virtual or real environment. By purchasing these products from the producers, the social good flows-down the logistics chain to the beneficiaries, and consumers are able to find a bunch of the products they want in a convenient shopping format.

Exercise equipment for social outreach

social business plan ideas

(Business Model: Fee for Service and Cross-Compensation. Example:  Rubber Banditz .) Sell a piece of exercise equipment that is simple to use and affordable. Promote the equipment as an alternative to full gym access for those who can’t afford it. Use profits and product to subsidize outreach programs that promote healthy living, thus promoting healthy living to two underserved groups: direct customers and outreach participants.

Educational travel company


(Business Model: Fee for Service. Examples:  Think Impact  and  Evoluzion .) Start a company that brings together travelers with experiences that provide an intercultural learning experience and a positive social impact on a local community. Profits are recycled back into the communities they affect.

Food for Philanthropy


(Business Model: Independent support. Examples:  Newman’s Own  and  Late .) Create a food company that provides an already needed/wanted product and use the profits to support philanthropic work. The company is easily scalable and can focus on just one product line/charity, or can be easily scaled to provide multiple food products and support a variety of charities.

Social products and employment for the underserved

Social Employment

(Business Model: Employment and Skills Training, Fee for Service. Example:  Livelyhoods .) Source one or several social good products (clean cookstoves, affordable power solutions for the developing world), and hire an underemployed group to sell these products to their community on a commision basis. It’s both a distribution/marketing method and a way to employ underemployed populations.

Water for everyone!

social business plan ideas

(Business model: Cross-compensation. Example:  Soma Water .) Create a home water filtration solution that you sell to the first world, and use the proceeds of these sales to provide the same (or similar) solution to the developing world. As a bonus, use environmentally friendly materials and processes in the creation of the product.

Micro-Giving for easy philanthropy

social business plan ideas

(Business Model: Cross-compensation or independent support. Example:  B1G1 .) Partner with businesses and have them donate micro amounts of products/money to a social cause for every transaction they enter. For example, set up a relationship with a baker. And for every loaf of bread they sell, have them donate a handful of flour (or monetary equivalent) to a food-aid organization in the developing world.

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Social Enterprise Business Plan

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A social enterprise is an activity of a nonprofit that employs entrepreneurial, market-driven strategies for earned income in support of its mission. This outline for a social enterprise business plan is a guide for research, planning, and writing a business plan for nonprofit social enterprises.

A social enterprise is an activity of a nonprofit that employs entrepreneurial, market-driven strategies for earned income in support of their mission. Business plans are a common tool for entrepreneurs when starting or growing a business enterprise. For nonprofits that are starting or growing a social enterprise as a part of their program activities, developing a business plan is an essential step. While social enterprise business plans address all of the questions needed for any business, nonprofits also need to consider the alignment with mission, organizational background and structure, and evaluation of both financial and social impact.

This outline for a business plan is a guide for research, planning, and writing a business plan for nonprofit social enterprises. The sections below are provided as a roadmap for the plan. Most business plans include each of these sections, though the length and amount of detail will vary depending on the nature of the enterprise, the complexity of the organization, and the purpose and audience for the plan.

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary provides the most important information for readers that need to understand and support the concept but not necessarily know the detailed plans. This is usually written last.

  • Organizational description
  • Business concept
  • Market description
  • Value proposition, or competitive advantage
  • Key success factors
  • Financial highlights and capital requirements

A social enterprise of a nonprofit organization may contribute directly to achieving mission; may be complementary or supportive of mission; or may be unrelated to mission (with primarily financial goals). The alignment to mission is a critical question.

  • Organization mission and/or vision statement
  • Relationship of social enterprise to organizational mission, or separate mission for the enterprise

Background and Structure

This section summarizes the organization’s history and programs and how the enterprise will fit in to the larger organization.

Most social enterprises operate as an activity or program within the nonprofit, though some are legally structured as a separate nonprofit, a for-profit subsidiary, or an independent organization.

Form should follow function and the legal structure should support the purpose and activities of the enterprise. Advice from an expert attorney may be needed.

  • Brief description of the nonprofit, including context and programs
  • How the business venture will be structured in the organization
  • Legal structure and governance (Boards, advisory committees, reporting)

Market Analysis

The market analysis is the heart of the business plan and is too often inadequately explored when planning a social enterprise. Solid research is necessary to understand the target customers and how the enterprise will meet a gap and demand in the market. No amount of mission or commitment will overcome a deficiency in market knowledge and a bona fide demand for the product or service.

  • Summary of current market situation
  • Target market and customers
  • Customer characteristics, unmet demands and buying factors

Competitive Analysis

This section describes the competitors, both nonprofit and for-profit, and the value proposition, or market advantage, of the proposed business.

  • Primary competitors
  • Competitive products/services
  • Risks and opportunities in competitive market
  • Recent or emerging changes in the industry
  • Specific description of competitive advantage/value of proposed product or service


This section is a summary of the product or service that will meet the demand in the market. It does not need to include detailed descriptions, price lists or other materials.

  • Product/service description
  • Positioning of products/services
  • Future products/services

Marketing and Sales

This section will describe how the organization will reach the target market and turn those prospects into paying customer.

  • Marketing strategy
  • Sales tactics
  • Advertising, public relation, and promotions
  • Summary of sales forecasts

This is the “how to” section, describing the creation and delivery of the business’ product or service.

  • Management structure
  • Staffing plan and key personnel – if this includes programmatic elements related to the mission, expand this section
  • Production plan or service delivery, including summary of costs of materials and production
  • Customer service/support strategy and plan
  • Facilities required, including specialized equipment or improvements. If the business is retail, discuss location characteristics

Evaluation and Assessment

Most for-profit businesses measure their success by the financial results. Social enterprises have a double bottom line (or a triple bottom line.) This section describes the factors that will be evaluated to assess the success of each aspect of the enterprise.

  • Quantifiable financial goals
  • Quantifiable mission goals
  • Monitoring and evaluation strategy

Financial Plan and Projections

The financial section includes projections for revenue and expenses for at least three years with a summary narrative of the key assumptions. This section also details the start up costs for capital equipment, inventory, initial marketing and staffing, and subsidy needed to cover losses during the start up period. These capital requirements may be funded from a combination of contribution from the nonprofit, grants for the enterprise, and/or debt financing.

  • Start up costs and investments in equipment, technology, or one time costs
  • Capital requirements and sources
  • Income and expense projection
  • Pro forma balance sheet for start up
  • Cash flow summary or projection
  • Assumptions and comments


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starting pictograms

Writing your first business plan

Wh y do you need a business plan .

A business plan will help you to clarify your idea, identify challenges and allow you to monitor the progress you’re making. Your business plan is not a static document, it is something you should revisit and update as your organisation grows.

” A goal without a plan is just a wish” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Putting pen to paper

Writing a business plan may seem daunting, but you’ll probably find that writing down your idea will bring clarity and focus to what you are looking to achieve as a social entrepreneur.

Your business plan should demonstrate that your idea is well thought through and sustainable in the long-term. As a start-up you will find that funders, investors and stakeholders will request to see your business plan. Once you have your plan on paper it will be quick for you to pull together the information requested by funders or investors.

“The best business plans are straightforward documents that spell out the who, what, where, why, and how much.” Paula Nelson

What to include in your business plan

When you are writing your first business plan you should aim to answer the following questions:

  • What is your idea?

What are you offering to your beneficiaries and customers? This is sometimes referred to as ‘value proposition.’

  • Who are your customers?

Who is going to buy your product or service?

  • Who are your beneficiaries?

Who will benefit from what you’re doing? For a social organisation your beneficiaries and customers may be different groups, so it’s important to think about what you are offering to each of them.

  • How will you promote your organisation?

How will you market yourself to customers and beneficiaries? Now you know who they are, how do you plan to reach them?

  • Who else is doing something similar?

Who are your competitors? How does your organisation differ? Take time to think about what they do well and learn from them, it’s unlikely your idea has never been done before so use others experience as a tool for learning.

  • Steps to achieve your goals.

What do you need to do to achieve your objectives? Breaking down things into step by step actions will make your idea seem more achievable, it will also prevent you from getting distracted.

  • What resources do you need?

What resources you will need to make this happen – people, premises, materials? Try to be realistic. When you are first starting out you might be able to beg, steal and borrow but if you want to become sustainable you need to be realistic about the resources you need.

  • How much money will you have coming in?

What are people willing to pay for your services? Be realistic with how many sales you are likely to make and try to base this on evidence where possible.

  • How much money will you have going out?

Once you know what resources you require, you need to work out how much will they cost you. The cost of people, equipment and premises all need to be accounted for.

  • How much money will you have left over?

Will you break-even or have a profit? If you have a profit what you will do with it? You might not make a profit in your first year but you need to have an idea of when and how you will become financially sustainable.

How to structure your business plan

Once you’ve written your first business plan ask for feedback, then listen to the feedback you’ve receive. Be open to constructive comments and willing to add detail where it is needed.

Don’t forget to review your business plan regularly (don’t lock it away in a drawer!) Use your business plan to monitor your progress and keep you working towards your goals:

Further learning

  • Learn to Build a Better Business Plan
  • The Social Business Model Canvas

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Business Ideas for Social Entrepreneurs

Social Entrepreneurship is all about people developing, financing, and implementing solutions to issues revolving around social, cultural, and enviromental problems.

This is an emerging market, and getting in early can reap great benifits down the road, so check out our curated list to figure out which idea is best for you. 

A group of entrepreneurs standing around talking.

In this article, we have outlined our top Business Ideas for Social Entreprenuers. Social Entrepreneurship Business Ideas are perfect for those with a desire to start something that solves social, cultural, and enviromental issues within communities while still making money. 

Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services Recommended: Use our Business Name Generator for help brainstorming your new venture’s name Learn how to form an LLC , one of the best business structures  for Social Entrepreneurship Businesses Use our free  business plan generator to start planning your business today Get your unique logo with our free  Logo Maker  and start branding your business After finding your perfect idea learn how to start a business

There are lots of businesses for the budding social entreprenuer, but we have created a list of some of our favorites. We are sure one of them is bound to inspire you.

We’ve broken down our top Social Entrepreneurship ideas into several categories:

  • Education Based Ideas

Environmentally Sustainable Ideas

Sustianable farming businesses, other sustainable businesses.

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Social Entrepreneurship Education Ideas

1. esl school.

E S L School Image

A person who is passionate about education and loves languages makes a great ESL instructor, but a successful owner of an ESL school needs to also possess the skillset required to run a business. In addition, an owner needs to have the desire to work with individuals from a wide range of cultural and sociological backgrounds. Being able to keep a flexible schedule is a must.

Most ESL schools have multiple pricing tiers based on the number of students in a class, the level of instruction, or the time when the students attend classes. Experts predict revenues for educational services will grow 2.4% over the next five years. An English language school that keeps tight control of its expenses can expect to see a good return.

Learn how to start an ESL school .

2. Special Needs Coaching Business

Special Needs Coaching Business Image

Special Needs Coaching is a very challenging, yet rewarding career. This business pursuit is best suited for the individual who enjoys working with children, helping them gain confidence and happiness through positive motivation, as they work to reach their full potential.

The average profit realized for this industry is $59,100. Each additional coach that represents the business will contribute to an increase in annual profit. Special Needs Coaches can increase annual profits by offering online coaching meetings or through guest spots at speaking conventions.

Learn how to start a special needs coaching business .

3. Bookmobile

A large bus with Bookmobile printed on the side.

Bookmobiles offer a unique opportunity for the public to access reading materials. Since librarian Mary Titcomb launched the first bookmobile at the turn of the 20th century, these small businesses have served the reading needs of the public in both rural and urban areas.

Whether operating as a for-profit business selling books to customers or a public service offered by some libraries, bookmobiles bring entertainment and education to those who may not otherwise have access to books.

Learn how to start a bookmobile business .

4. Home Tutoring Business

Home Tutoring Business Image

This business is ideal for current and former teachers, which is why many teachers begin their home tutoring business as a part-time job. You must be a people person, as most of the business regards direct, one-on-one interaction with others. It helps to be good with children of all ages, as they comprise the vast majority of your customers.

The profit for a home tutoring business is entirely dependent on your hourly rate and the number of students you have at any given time. It is important to be mindful of the season: summer typically has much fewer students than other seasons because your primary clients—students--are mostly out of school. When budgeting profits for the year, it is important to remember that.

Learn how to start a home tutoring business .


Health Coaching Business Image

While a nutritionist is primarily concerned with fine-tuning diet, a health coach considers every facet of a client’s lifestyle to develop a diet, exercise, and general wellness regimen. Though some health coaches may emphasize an area of expertise, the baseline requirement for being a successful health coach is having a deep understanding of good health habits and exercise. This is a business type that generally has a low barrier to entry.

Additionally, the cost of a health coaching business can be very low. Typically, health coaches go directly to their clients’ home or workspace, cutting out the need for an office or a lot of overhead. In addition to the low costs, experienced health coaches can bring in big earnings, with some charging more than $500 per hour for their services.

Learn how to .


Pair of hands brushing a large amount of orange paint onto a canvas

If you love art and enjoy meeting and working with people, an art lessons business can be a fun and rewarding pursuit. You will need to create structured lessons so your students have a path to follow as they learn an artistic skill.

You don’t need much to start an art lessons business. You can provide your own tools (brushes, pencils, paper) or you can require your students to supply their own. This is a great business for young people because it can be started for free right out of your home. You may even be able to reserve space at your school or library at no cost. Your hourly rates will vary based on your skill level and the nature of your lessons, but most can charge at least $25/hr, making this a great way to start earning and saving money.

7. Reusable Grocery Bags

Two people carry eco friendly bags.

A reusable grocery bag business looks to supply durable and decorative grocery bags, designed for multiple uses, to help reduce the reliance on plastic grocery bags. As more consumers decide to ditch the plastic bags, options for reusable shopping bags will become more and more popular.

Some stores already require customers to bring their own bags with them for their shopping experiences. Reusable grocery bags are a great example of eco-friendly products that helps make consumers lives easier and less wasteful.

Learn how to start a reusable grocery bag business .

8. Responsible Landscaping Business

Man Planting Flowers In Garden

Responsible landscaping businesses are looking to integrate green solutions into the traditional business model of the landscaping industry. In addition to supplying management and beautification to trees, shrubs, flowers, turf, and mulch, green wise businesses look for ecologically sensitive options for plants, pesticides, fertilizers, and other landscaping supplies.

Learn how to start a responsible landscaping business .

9. Green Beauty Product Business

A Woman getting face mask.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health reports that there are over nine hundred toxins and chemicals in today’s standard cosmetics and skincare products. As we learn more and more about what these chemicals do to our bodies and our environment, many consumers are turning to natural products. Green beauty product business owners offer innovations in beauty care, producing and selling it to the public.

Learn how to start a green beauty products business .

10. Carbon Offsetting Business

Two people looking over a Solar Panel

Carbon offsetting is the practice of purchasing carbon credits for carbon dioxide emissions which, in turn, help fund projects to reduce carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. This practice works to reduce the carbon emissions and carbon footprints of businesses and organizations.

In essence, a business “buys out” their carbon emissions by paying a fee, which goes to fund programs and initiatives that work to support renewable energy plans and methods or ways to capture harmful greenhouse gasses, such as methane.

Learn how to start a carbon offsetting business .

11. Energy Consulting Company

Person Pointing at a graph

Projects for energy consulting companies on a smaller scale include conducting an energy audit of a single-family home. Larger commercial projects include making recommendations for large data centers that use massive amounts of electricity, government organizations with many public buildings, and major national companies with multiple locations.

Energy consulting companies provide energy audit reports to their clients that make specific recommendations for energy conservation and improved efficiency. They also provide information to clients about possible tax incentives for investing in alternative energy systems. Some companies in this sector sell, install, and maintain equipment such as solar panels, wind farms, geothermal systems, and bioenergy projects.

Learn how to start an energy consulting business .

12. Green Cleaning Products Business

Woman Holding A Variety Of Green Cleaning Products

As we learn more and more about the chemicals in standard household cleaners and their impact on the environment, consumer demand for green cleaning products has risen. A green cleaning products business produces and sells eco-friendly cleaning supplies, offering individuals and businesses a safe alternative for cleaning their homes and offices.

Learn how to start a green cleaning products business .

13. Insect Farm

Women Staring At Butterfly

An insect farm, which can be managed on both a small and large scale, is a farm that breeds and raises insects. The commodities these insects produce can be used to make everything from candles to silk. Additionally, insect farmers sell their “product” as farm feed, for human consumption, as pollinators, and as natural pesticides.

Learn how to start an insect farm business .

Culture Based Ideas

14. event planning business.

Image of calendar with colorful pins in it

Event planners help people organize and host special occasions like weddings, parties, anniversaries, or professional soirees. An event planning business coordinates with clients to make sure the location, food, music, decorations, ceremony, and general atmosphere match or even exceed their expectations.

You don’t need a degree to be a successful event planner, but you will need to have excellent communication and organizational skills. Experience in customer service or the hospitality industry is also beneficial.

Learn how to start an event planning business .


Image of map, airline ticket, and latte with airplane-shaped latte art

Though travel agencies are not as popular as they once were, they still offer a valuable service to those who love to travel but hate planning trips. A travel agency researches locales, accommodations, and flight packages. They can also offer special discount rates for frequent travelers.

A passion for travel and excellent organizational skills are a must for travel agency owners. You do not need to be certified to be a travel agent, but there are several certification programs that can give you the knowledge to provide your customers with high-quality service.

Learn how to start a travel agency business .


A tablet being held with the Etsy application loaded

If you love making handmade goods or scoping out unique vintage items in your free time, you may enjoy running an Etsy business. This is an excellent outlet for young artists looking to sell their work or anyone who’s passionate about producing and selling well-crafted goods. Sellers must have the skills required to find or create the products they sell, basic computer skills, and experience with marketing and/or advertising to help promote their products.

These basic skills plus a strong entrepreneurial spirit can convert your hobby into a lucrative business opportunity. While you’ll likely start small, this is a business you can cultivate over time and shape to fit your schedule through school and beyond. Serious sellers are bringing in six figures, so this is a great opportunity to start a business that can grow with you.

Learn how to start an Etsy store .


Image of food truck with a sign that reads "Grandpa's Tacos"

A food truck prepares and sells meals from a vehicle equipped with a small kitchen and food storage containers. In many cities, food trucks are an extremely popular way to grab a fast, cheap meal on the go. They are also ideal for business owners, because they offer profits that are on par with a small restaurant or cafe, without the extra overhead of owning or renting a building.

A food truck owner must have some culinary knowledge, and should also have a passion for providing quality customer service. Though prior experience in the foodservice industry is not a necessity, it is a great way to jumpstart a successful food truck business.

Learn how to start a food truck business .


Person wearing Asian conical hat looking out over field of trees

Tour companies offer guided tours through cities with plenty of historical significance, interesting architecture, unique charm, or exciting nightlife. These tours can be conducted on foot, by bicycle, or by vehicle. Ideally, a tour guide or tour company owner will have extensive knowledge of their city and understand how to keep an audience entertained. Above all else, you will need to be a people person.

The startup costs for a tour company are generally quite low, especially if you are willing to start out working from home. However, costs will rise if you wish to open a location in the city or purchase and maintain transportation for your tours. Growing too quickly can actually hurt your business in the long-run, as unbooked tours will eat into your profits. Nonetheless, with low overhead, a sound marketing strategy, and a competitive pricing model, your earning potential can be quite high.

Learn how to start a tour company .


Man giving speech to crowd in auditorium

Public speaking instruction classes help develop speaking skills and confidence for speeches, presentations, meetings, or any situation that requires verbal communication. These can be one-on-one classes or larger group sessions.

Needless to say, an extroverted entrepreneur could make an excellent public speaking instructor. These small business owners should be an excellent communicator and have experience speaking in front of groups of people.

Learn how to start a public speaking instruction business .

Find a Web Domain for Your Social Entreprenuership Business

Find a domain now, powered by godaddy.com, 20. community garden.

A Community Garden with Planters

A community garden is an area of land on which members of the community can grow and harvest plants. Today’s community garden businesses rent out small, pre-specified portions of the garden to interested parties. Gardeners can plant flowers, crops, and similar plants. 

A lot of community gardens are watched by volunteer employees. Many have dedicated members, too. Because a community garden is a “group effort,” they often have in-depth membership criteria while offering a variety of membership options.

Any individual who enjoys gardening, running a garden, planting or harvesting crops is perfect for a community garden. Individuals who live in urban areas, too, are a good fit. Because community gardens can exist in urban or rural areas, those who thrive in crowded areas may find a home in a community garden. A successful community garden owner loves exploring the many variations of seeds, plants, and gardening options. Additionally, community garden owners can become part of The American Community Garden Association.

Learn how to start a community garden business .

21. Botanical Garden

A lone path with lush plants and trees on each side.

A botanical garden typically refers to an outdoor space where different species of plant life are grown and cultivated. The land may be used for research, conservation, public beautification, or some combination thereof. Botanical gardens may also build a greenhouse space where growing conditions can be controlled year-round.

The ideal owner will have a passion for botany. Whether they’re growing plants for scientific research or to share with the community, they should understand how new species and hybrids can fulfill the overall mission of their organization.

Learn how to start a botanical garden business .

22. Mushroom Farm

A Group of Mushrooms on a log

Mushroom farm businesses specialize in growing mushrooms. These mushrooms are used by customers for either medicinal or culinary purposes, depending on the type of mushroom grown. Additionally, they may be sold wholesale to clients or at retail prices.

Anyone who enjoys working with their hands and interacting with people may be well-suited for running a mushroom farm business. Growing mushrooms is a hands-on task, and having an ability to connect with people can help business owners share their product with potential customers.

Learn how to start a mushroom farm business .

23. Greenhouse Business

Large Glass Greenhouse Full of Baby Plants

Homeowners, business owners, and even some apartment tenants shop at greenhouses. These businesses typically sells plants, flowers, vegetables, seeds and items related to gardening/landscaping.

If you have a “green thumb”, this is the ideal business. You should have an in-depth knowledge of flowers, plants, vegetables, seeds, and gardening equipment. Furthermore, you should have a passion for cultivating everything green. The best greenhouse business owners understand the intricacies of growing plants, flowers, produce, and just about everything else that comes out of the ground.

Learn how to start a greenhouse business .

24. Hydroponic Farm

A large row of baby plants in pots.

A hydroponic farm business grows and sells plants, vegetables, grass, and other forms of greenery to businesses and individuals. Examples of such businesses include grocery stores and restaurants. The twist to this style of business is water solvent is used to grow the plants rather than soil.

Hydroponic farm businesses are usually located indoors. In many instances, these indoor environments are greenhouses.

This business is an excellent way to give back to the community. Hydroponic farm business owners provide people with high-quality, nutritious, and tasty produce. These businesses also grow lovely flowers and other forms of greenery that beautify the local community. Furthermore, hydroponic farm businesses benefit the local environment as they are environmentally-friendly compared to conventional methods of farming.

Learn how to start a hydroponic farm business .

25. Pumpkin Farm

A large group of orange pumpkins

Also called a pumpkin patch, a pumpkin farm is a place to harvest pumpkins. Pumpkins are priced by weight, and a lot of pumpkin farms sell other seasonal products like corn, apples, and Halloween decorations. Other pumpkin patches offer entertainment, like corn mazes and hayrides.

The pumpkin farm business is great for farmers, Halloween-lovers, and those with a “green thumb.” If you like planting and selling crops, a pumpkin patch is a great business to own. Owners should be people-oriented, and they should love bargaining. A good pumpkin patch owner will also have a love for Jack-O-Lanterns and everything else Halloween-oriented.

Learn how to start a pumpkin farm business .

26. Herb Farm

A small group of lush herbs

In 2016, for the first time, Americans spent more money eating out than on groceries. During the same year, we paid more than a staggering 110 billion dollars for food in this country. Whether we are cooking at home or going out to eat, it is clear we love to eat and we are willing to pay for it.

Entrepreneurs who are interested in farming can earn a good living by supplying fresh culinary herbs to restaurants, retail stores, and directly to consumers.

Starting an herb farm is a great business for anyone who is interested in farming. One of the great things about herb farming is owners do not need acres and acres of land or even operate their herb farm full-time to be profitable. A small herb farm makes a wonderful part-time business for stay-at-home persons, a retired couple, or even a dedicated high-school student.

Learn how to start an herb farm business .

Start an Eco-Friendly Business In Your State

27. packaging design business.

A large number of cardboard objects that all fit together.

A packaging design business enhances packages with visual graphics while also designing existing product packages. A package design business, ultimately, protects products for sale, transportation, distribution, storage, and use. A package’s design includes both its structural and aesthetic design.

Ideally, a package design will be enhanced by graphics. In most cases, a package’s design is product-centric. From all angles, a package exists to serve the product.

The package design business is great for creative individuals. Products need both physical protection and visual representation, and a package can do both. A successful package design business owner will have a good perspective for branding, packaging, and forward-thinking designs.

Learn how to start a packaging design business .

28. Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Marijunana in a Medical Container

Medical marijuana dispensaries legally purchase marijuana from vendors and sell it to physician-approved patients. Dispensaries have a physician on the board of directors to ensure that patient treatment adheres to standard accepted practices. 

They also have highly trained staff who are continually educated about the many different strains and forms of cannabis and their medicinal purposes. Those forms include vapor, tinctures, balms, oils, juices, and edibles. A medical marijuana dispensary provides patients with an alternative to pain-killers and other drugs that can have harmful side effects when used long-term.

This business is ideal for people who are passionate about alternative medicine and have a strong desire to help others. Those who have worked in the medical field are often drawn to this business since the goal is to alleviate the severity of symptoms associated with many medical conditions that adversely affect quality of life.

Learn how to start a medical marijuana dispensary .

29. Organic Hygiene Product Business

Organic Soap on a table.

These days people are living healthier lives. Most of us are trying to eat better, reduce waste, recycle more and use natural products. An organic hygiene products business is perfectly positioned to provide people with all-natural soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, and feminine hygiene products.

Most successful organic hygiene products business are run by people passionate about the products they sell and who are actively involved in a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. There is no room for phonies in this business since your customers will be quick to identify unwholesome ingredients that may have found their way into your product line. An organic hygiene product business demands a full-time schedule, so owners need to have a deep dedication to this green business even if it is only a secondary source of income.

Learn how to start an organic hygiene business .

30. Irrigation Business

A Large Irrigation System On A Farm

Plenty of everyday people and businesses require irrigation systems. From homeowners to farmers, public properties, athletic fields, and beyond, there is no shortage of customers who need top-notch watering systems. Those who reside in particularly arid areas that receive minimal rain require year-round irrigation.

This is the perfect business for someone who is familiar with the intricacies of lawn treatment, landscaping, farming, athletic field maintenance, and other green spaces. Individuals who have experience maintaining green spaces and other areas with grass, trees, shrubs and/or crops will likely thrive in the irrigation business.

Learn how to start an irrigation business .

Explore More

social business plan ideas

Home Business Ideas

There are a variety of businesses you can run out of your home, and because of the minimal overhead expenses, most of them can be started fairly cheaply. In this article, we outline our top 40 home business ideas for the modern entrepreneur.

social business plan ideas

Low-Cost Business Ideas

In this article, we outline our top 40 business ideas with low startup costs to help you find a low-cost business idea that aligns with your interests and goals.

social business plan ideas

Online Business Ideas

Whether you’re looking to build an online empire or earn a little money on the side, one of the best things about owning an online business is having the ability to work as much or as little as you want -- from whatever location you prefer.

social business plan ideas

Side-Hustle Business ideas

If you’re looking to scratch the entrepreneurial itch without giving up your day job, you’re probably on the hunt for a side-hustle that aligns with your personal interests and your schedule. These 40 side-hustles satisfy a range of interests and can easily turn into full-time careers.

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How to Start a Business

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How to start a business for social good.

How to Start a Business for Social Good

Our world has never been more connected, and neither has it ever felt more on the brink of change. With the internet and social media driving awareness for social and environmental issues, more and more people are looking for ways to make a positive social impact in their everyday lives. 

These days, society’s commitment to doing social good influences everything from our careers to our purchases—and the influx of ethical brands has given us the ability to make a difference. These brands and companies, or social businesses, give us the opportunity to support our favorite causes by using our purchasing power.

So what is a social business? The Social Business Alliance defines it as: “Organizations that address a basic unmet need or solve a social problem through a market-driven approach.” A business that works for social good often seeks to find a balance between profit, sustainability and social impact. But while starting a small business to create social change is noble, it does take hard work to do the good you’ve set out to do. 

Today, we’ll cover the basics of starting a social entrepreneurship, including finding your focus, researching it, implementing it and how to keep it going—and growing. 

Find Your Focus

What is your company mission? Your cause should resonate with others but most importantly, it should resonate with you. To keep focused on your goals and stay motivated, it’s important to find a cause that you’re passionate about. You don’t have to look far to find inspiration—often the best business ideas come from looking at an everyday experience and thinking, “How can I make this better?” 

social business plan ideas

Pinpoint the Problem

Instead of inventing a magical product to take the market by storm and finding a cause to fit it, study the experience you want to improve. Scrutinize it. Really think about every detail—pinpoint what about it you can fix, then brainstorm that solution further. How can you make it better for yourself and people like you? How can you take it a step farther and help other communities around you? 

Having a clear social purpose is the foundation of all successful social enterprises and will give your passion a direction.

Start Small, But Think Big

A company like Ruby Cup is a great example of a social business that addresses both personal and environmental issues while helping the community. Silicone menstrual cups have become popular in recent years because they’re a sustainable alternative to disposable tampons and pads. They’re preferred because they’re cost-effective (a single cup eliminates buying tampons for over a year), reduce environmental waste, are more convenient to use and are better for your body. 

You might think that’s already doing plenty for social good, but Ruby Cup does more by operating on a one-to-one business model. For every purchase, a cup is donated to a girl or woman without access to menstrual care products in developing countries. The company’s social mission also includes educational programs on reproductive health. 

Your social business doesn’t need to hit all those points to make a positive impact. Just tackling one thing, like sustainability, is significant. But being focused doesn’t mean you can’t think of the bigger picture. A person who wants to help the environment by reducing waste and believes in empowering young women is a guaranteed loyal customer. People will feel good when supporting social enterprises that allow them to do all the above. 

Being clear on what motivates you will help you structure your business and better help your community in the long run. 

Study the concept you’re tackling and learn the ins and outs of the industry you’re diving into. Whatever your social or environmental issue is, and however you want to solve it, research as much as you can to come up with the most effective solutions. If you’re looking to reduce plastic waste in the oceans by manufacturing reusable water bottles, look into how much waste you’d be reducing by putting your product out there. Get the numbers, understand the process and calculate your impact.

Brainstorming and Problem-Solving

During the brainstorming process, be prepared to troubleshoot and troubleshoot often. Always consider all possible angles about your product or service and how it can be improved. Returning to the menstrual cup example, think about how a person with disabilities might struggle using a conventional model. 

Keela Cup is a brand that was inspired by that very issue. Its founder Jane Adame has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective-tissue disorder that makes people’s joints unstable, which means she could risk injury by inserting and removing a typical cup. So she collaborated with medical device designer Andy Miller to redesign the menstrual cup by adding a pull tab, making it more user-friendly and inclusive!

Basically, think about what consumers are looking for in a better solution and what else, apart from positive social impact, would concern them? Is it sustainability, aesthetics, convenience, affordability or all of the above? Market research is key. It’s important for social entrepreneurs to understand the problem they’re facing and the solutions already in place. It’s equally important that they understand their target audience. 

Younger Consumers Expect Better

Recent surveys have shown that younger consumers, like the college-aged Gen Z, are more likely to support companies that embrace sustainability and ethical business practices, and have missions they care about. As the world becomes more socially conscious, more consumers expect businesses to give back to their communities in some way. In a lot of ways, social entrepreneurship is the desired default.

  • In a retail and sustainability survey conducted in 2019 by CGS, nearly 70% of respondents said sustainability is at least “somewhat important” to them while over one-third said they’d be willing to pay 25% more for eco-friendly goods
  • A study by Cone Communications indicated that 94% of the Gen Z individuals surveyed believe companies should help address critical social issues
  • DoSomething Strategic learned that 76% of “young people” purchased or would consider purchasing a product to show support for the cause the brand supported

Embrace Diversity

As important as it is to surround yourself with like-minded teammates, make sure to embrace diversity. A diverse workforce means diverse ideas, approaches and perspectives. You’ll be better equipped to problem-solve from all angles and to keep up with a world that is becoming more inclusive by the day. 

Think Globally

Even if your cause focuses on your local community, it pays to think globally. Utilize international resources, studies, events and meet-ups to build your network of social enterprises. Look to other social entrepreneurs like yourself for inspiration and direction—what makes their business model so successful, what communities are they collaborating with, who are they supporting? Who are the relevant innovators and social entrepreneurs worldwide? What can you learn from them? 

Don’t be afraid to look beyond your industry and your community to find ways to improve your process. 

Build Your Business Plan

Social entrepreneurship provides a structure for businesses to find success in the pursuit of helping others. A large part of that success comes from a strong business plan to support your mission. Even though making a profit is part of your goal, understanding how to efficiently manage a business will create a strong foundation to accomplish that, and the outreach you want to do. 

Being passionate is great, but being organized and business-savvy will help you create a bigger social impact. Play to your unique strengths, knowledge and experiences to think creatively. All that will help you grow your business and spread its message farther in the long run. 

So, where should you start? The three main things you have to consider are how to classify your organization, how to fund it and how to manage your finances.

Non-Profit or For-Profit?

Is your organization non-profit or for-profit? There are pros and cons to each but it’s important to decide which better suits your business and its goals. This determines the structure of your team, legal business, marketing strategy and more. 

  • Non-profit allows social businesses to accept grants, offer tax deductions to donors and receive tax-exempt status. 
  • For-profit social businesses, on the other hand, can accept equity investments and have no limits on revenue generation. However, they do have a limited ability to receive grants and can’t offer tax deductions to donors.

Put more simply: Both make money, but for-profits retain profit and non-profits put all profit back into maintaining the business. Traditionally, most social entrepreneurs opt for non-profit status.

You may not have the budget to jumpstart your social business from scratch, and that’s OK! Many grassroots organizations have humble beginnings. Chances are there are local businesses and events (like #GivingTuesday) you can get involved with to begin building professional relationships. A strong social media marketing campaign is your best friend from the start, especially when it works hand in hand with crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is a popular and well-known method of funding a social entrepreneurship. There are several websites and approaches to crowdfunding, but the gist remains the same: Individuals or organizations invest or donate to projects, often in return for a potential profit or reward. Crowdfunding is a great option for supporting a social business since social media is the main platform for sharing information about social causes.

It also allows you to directly engage with, and get to know, your target market. We’ve discussed the different types of crowdfunding and how to choose the right one for your business here .

Fundraising and donations will make up most of your primary funds, and if your business holds a non-profit status, then you’re eligible for funding via grants as well. Other sources of income are product sales, sponsorships and corporate contributions. Find what works best for you and your social enterprise!

Balancing the Books

Starting a social enterprise means finding a balance between philanthropy and business management. When you’re a small business relying heavily on outside funding and donations with a focus on giving back to the community, it’s especially important to stay on top of your finances. 

Using accounting software like FreshBooks will help you balance the books in an easy, fast and secure way. From managing invoices to generating financial reports to help you make smarter business choices, FreshBooks makes crunching numbers a breeze—which means you’ll spend less time tied up with accounting and more time on growing your company.

social business plan ideas

Listen and Connect

The people and community you want to help always come first. Reach out to them and listen to what they have to say. You’re offering a solution for an issue specific to those participating in and supporting your social business, so always be in tune with your consumers. This is where feedback comes in!

There are some key things to keep in mind when it comes to customer feedback:

  • Reachability: Whether it’s through social media, email, phone call or a feedback form on your website, make it easy for customers to get in touch with you. 
  • Be personable: Some people will reach out and hear nothing from customer service and it feels like their complaint is being shot into the void. The best companies get in touch with their customers and let them know they’re being heard by someone who cares about what they have to say. This helps build relationships with your consumers too.
  • Listen: Genuinely listen to a complaint or concern. Try to come to a solution together. 
  • Improve: Look for ways to improve your business or product based on the feedback you received.

How Can Feedback Help You?

K9 Carts is a wonderful example of a company that cares about its customers and the community they help—both human and canine. They provide fully adjustable wheelchairs for ailing dogs and as such, are diligent about customer feedback and communication. Since each wheelchair is made to a dog’s exact specifications, the team at K9 Carts works closely with pet owners to ensure a perfect fit. 

Their attention to detail and excellent communication skills have earned them a glowing reputation and built strong relationships with their consumer base—who often give back by returning their used wheelchairs. These are then donated by the company to other dogs in need: Sustainable, and community-driven.

By directly addressing and implementing feedback—both positive and (especially) constructive—you show that your company is willing to grow and improve. It tells people that you care about the community and the cause you’re supporting. 

In Conclusion

Every business has the ability to impact the world and inspire social change. Even if you aren’t looking to start a social enterprise from the ground up, you can implement any of these methods in order to give your existing company a social purpose. 

At the end of the day, your customers need to know you’re there for them. Remember that people and your mission come first. Listen to their needs and address them head-on. Do your research, connect with the community and other like-minded businesses. By helping you manage your finances, FreshBooks makes starting a social business easy! After all, “profit” and “charity” don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Be passionate, be creative, and most importantly, be smart.

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Business plans for social enterprises (SE) and social businesses

Writing a business plan helps to ensure you focus on the core of your business. You must concentrate on key deliverables in a resource-constrained organization and communicate effectively with your stakeholders, including your funders or investors, customers, community, board, employees and volunteers.

The value of social enterprise business planning

Business planning will help any social enterprise (SE) or social purpose business (SPB) to:

  • Attract investment
  • Identify risks
  • Measure social or environmental outcomes
  • Demonstrate that you are using a business approach
  • Showcase the management team
  • Build alliances
  • Check thinking
  • Determine feasibility

In a business plan, you must clearly articulate:

  • The mission of your social enterprise
  • The outline of specific actions to achieve your goals and objectives
  • Establish targets for planning, measuring and improving performance
  • Project the necessary resources, costs and revenues of your program

Sample business plan templates

Many business plan templates exist in the public domain, including this one .

The elements are best used as prompts by social entrepreneurs to build their own plan, assessing along the way whether or not the question (or element) is relevant for the Social Enterprise or the social business.

Social enterprise business plans versus non-profit plans

Description of the business/mission statement.

The social mission and the importance of meeting both the financial and social goals should be discussed in this section.

Management and organization

Financing the capacity of the organization is as important as supporting the programs. Include an assessment of the current organization, planned additions and/or changes as well as the cost of building the team’s capacity in order to achieve the projected growth. Demonstrate that the staff has both programmatic and business skills.

Market assessment and marketing plan

The plan should focus on delivering market-driven products or services as opposed to program-driven products or services to the target customer .

You will also need to articulate how to promote your social objectives along with the product and service.  Partnerships and collaborations extend the reach of the social venture.  Highlight your partnership strategy in this section.

Your marketing plan includes the strategies and tactics to reach your customers, partners and the community.  Outline the public relations, media relations, and advertising that will be required to meet your objectives. The marketing plan should be linked in with your financial plan and your overall strategy.

A solid financial position will allow you to pursue your mission with flexibility and high-quality service, beyond mere stability.  Investors must feel confident their investment will be used effectively to achieve both the social mission and financial results that will enable your organization to thrive and achieve continued growth.

The financial plan provides the framework for social entrepreneurs to forecast the resources they need to create and sustain social and economic value. Commercial entrepreneurs prepare business plans to show why they need money and how they will use it.  Social entrepreneurs should use the same approach and not worry about the limited resources currently available.

Social Enterprise Investors

Investors and funders alike want to know the cost to develop, start up, offer and deliver services or products, whether or not any one user or payer is willing to cover it. When interacting with potential funders or investors, you need a detailed budget and projection of required outside investment tied in with a plan to reach the desired market position.

Investors want returns, typically a blend of financial and social. Your plan must describe the potential “return” on investment for investors and the desired social outcomes, and provide a framework for assessing social performance .

Remember that a social purpose business is similar to any other for-profit business, but the organization will likely raise financing from investors who are interested in a double bottom line. Social enterprises in the non-profit environment will typically raise funding from traditional fundraising, loans and other forms of social finance.

Dees, J.G., Emerson, J., & Economy, P. (2001).  Enterprising Nonprofits: A Toolkit for Social Entrepreneurs . Toronto: John Wiley & Sons.

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social business plan ideas

10 Awesome Social Enterprise Business Ideas



How would you define philanthropy? Is it about giving back and lending a helping hand to others? This concept actually has no common definition because everyone understands it in their own special way. If you are a philanthropist looking for more ways to solve social problems, you will like the idea of starting a company in the field of social entrepreneurship.

There are dozens of opportunities waiting for someone to take them on and turn into something that offers value. And today literally anyone can do it. Even if you were doing your school homework using assignment writing service or have been expelled from college, you are still able to help the world.

Have a look at the list of the most inspiring and innovative social enterprise ideas and start making a difference today:

  • Social goods marketplace You can sell charity-made products and let people on one side of the world help those on the other side. Buying the items produced by disadvantaged craftsmen, you offer the latter a unique opportunity to get a fair reward for their work; meanwhile, selling these products to the world, you allow end consumers to do good and at the same time get some useful nice items for their homes.
  • Used textbooks for change You can promote an alliance between some students that come from wealthy families and students in need. The state of education, unfortunately, is poor in the developing countries, so getting young people donating their textbooks to those who don’t have the same access to educational resources is a worthy idea. Some textbooks can still be sold and the profits can be used to promote and support education programs in those countries.
  • Socially conscious products You can develop a new device made of conflict-free materials or which are fair trade . This will ensure a better working environment, such as increased safety and wages, for people who produce it. Besides, such projects involve avoiding dishonest practices and selling the products for a reasonable price. This business idea would also allow other people, the ones who purchase the device, to feel they are doing something great.
  • Purified water You can establish water purification stations in the regions where water sample testing has shown poor results. The stations don’t have to be large — you can buy ready-made devices. This can seem a rather small contribution but you will still help many people get access to water. This social enterprise business plan is good because it requires neither high maintenance nor large staff to be involved. All the expenses can easily be covered by selling water to people in need even at a low cost.
  • Microlending You can create a safe and inspirational environment where beginner entrepreneurs can receive small loans for developing their enterprises. Many people around the world have brilliant minds but no possibility to implement their ideas . Why not give them a platform for sharing thoughts with potential investors, filling out project plan templates, arranging conference calls to discuss details, and finally getting funding for their startups?
  • Helping homeless You can reduce homelessness by organizing various social activities aimed at helping people living in the streets get access to food and medical aid, find real jobs, and get back on their feet. Swipe and Beyond the Cardboard are excellent examples of successful projects running for the benefit of the community. Think of the possible improvement programs you can engage the homeless in, and you will increase chances of getting them off the streets.
  • Cooking for unemployed You can open a diner, restaurant, or café and hire unemployed people, like former drug or alcohol addicts, for the purpose of developing their employment skills. This enterprise may cost you a lot to establish (which crowdfunding can help with), but it will give you an opportunity to positively influence people’s lives and offer brighter future. For example, imagine seeing one of your employees working at a prestigious restaurant after he or she have worked a few years for you.
  • Education books on a social topic You can create some educational content containing information that could be useful for the reader and have the potential to improve our world and society. Be it a recipe book promoting a healthy lifestyle or a periodical nature publication uncovering the world of extinct species, it should be easy and interesting to read anyway. The profits from sales can be used to promote awareness about the same topic.
  • Small contributions You can choose a few enterprises, like shops or restaurants, and agree on small donations of either some products or some amounts of money from every transaction to charity programs. For instance, working with a toy store, you can have it donating a toy to a local orphanage for every 10 toys it sells.
  • Volunteering platforms You can start a company that would serve as a platform for exchanging services. The key point would be that you don’t pay the volunteers directly. Instead, they ask you to donate some amount of money to the charity project they choose.

To sum up, there are many interesting ideas for setting up a social enterprise. You just have to be organized , stay focused on your good intentions, and you will be able to change lives. However, if you feel you are not ready for your own business yet, you can always choose one of the great social enterprises out there and find a job in this growing sector.

Post by Jeremy Raynolds, a blogger and freelance writer whose favorite quote is Bill Drayton’s “Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionised the fishing industry.”


Written by StartSomeGood

We give changemakers the support they need to launch and grow a successful social enterprise. Our mission is to increase the pace of innovation for good

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4 Best Social Entrepreneurship Ideas 2021


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social business plan ideas

If you are looking for social entrepreneurship ideas to get inspired, you are at the right place. Seeing examples of successful social entrepreneurship ideas may provide you with the inspiration to drive social change.

There are many powerful examples of social enterprises around the world that are profitable and have a significant impact. As the social enterprise movement continues to gain traction, this serves as the perfect opportunity for interested social entrepreneurs to invest in this novel entrepreneurial approach.

But before sharing with you the best social entrepreneurship ideas, we need to clear out any existing misconceptions about what constitutes a social enterprise.

What is a Social Enterprise?

A social enterprise , as opposed to a traditional business, differs in the motivation of the entrepreneur. The traditional entrepreneur is motivated by the desire to make money, whilst the social entrepreneur wants to solve a social problem.

However, even though the motives of a traditional business may seem “poor”, we should not dismiss its importance. A social enterprise does not mean that it can’t be profitable as well. On the contrary, it focuses on both social and economic profitability with a twist, as profit maximization is not the number one priority.

In essence, social entrepreneurship added the much-needed independence to social businesses as they are no longer exclusively reliable to external funding like grants and donations. But instead, with the use of entrepreneurial strategies, social entrepreneurs can create their own business model for social impact and be profitable at the same time.

With the hope to have learned a thing or two about the true identity of a social enterprise, you wouldn’t want to miss these social entrepreneurship ideas to create your social enterprise and impact your community.

Social Entrepreneurship Ideas to Make an Impact

Before delving into social entrepreneurship, you should first identify a social need you would be passionate about solving. And that’s the good thing with social enterprises, as they have the power to transform our surroundings and make a better world to live in while utilizing all the tools that capitalism provides. Let’s review some of the social entrepreneurship ideas that are proven to work and that they can bring much-needed social change to our communities.

1. Social Supermarket

social business plan ideas

If you are interested in the retail business, you consider the idea of establishing a social supermarket. It is up to you to decide the core objective of the social supermarket as it can cater to various social needs. A social supermarket can sell food to low-income families purchased at meagre prices from different food suppliers. For instance, dented cans of food or products that are close to their expiration date.

Alternatively, social supermarkets may form some form of cooperative with local producers to market fresh local produce that does not involve transportation over long distances and thus being sustainable. Additionally, this retail shop may only sell organic food or products that follow an ethical way of production with respect to the environment and animals’ rights. It is up to the social entrepreneurs to decide the focus of the social supermarket based on their passion or the social needs of their community.

2. Cooking for Social Change

social business plan ideas

If you are an experienced cook or have been in the restaurant service industry for so long and think that you know how to run a restaurant, you should consider opening your own restaurant business. Let me show you how to serve delicious food and drive social change through your restaurant business.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of underserved communities struggling daily to get back on their feet or look for opportunities to show the world that they too have skills and that can be equally productive as opposed to the popular belief.

Of course, I am talking about the idea of creating a restaurant business with the mission to build employment skills for people with disabilities , former convicts or drug addicts, youth at risk and others. Most of the time, these groups of people need a helping hand to start over and live a meaningful and productive life like the rest of us.

3. Buy one, give one

social business plan ideas

It belongs to the social entrepreneurship ideas that utilize the concept of donations for every purchase made. A very famous example of this business idea is TOMS shoes and eyewear company that donates 1/3 of its profits to grassroots organizations that promote mental health, increase access to opportunity, and work towards ending gun violence. The original idea of the business was to donate a pair of shoes to an impoverished child in a developing country for every sale of shoes.

The same principle can also be applied to all types of businesses. For example, you can open a bakery shop where your company donates flour to the local pantry shop that gives food to low-income families for each loaf of bread sold. With this business model, you can increase your socially conscious customers and at the same time help families put food on their tables daily.    

4. Open a Thrift Store

social business plan ideas

As sustainability has become one of the most critical topics of discussions worldwide, and especially if you are environmentally conscious and love fashion, opening a thrift store business would be an excellent social entrepreneurship idea for you.  

A thrift store sells second-hand pieces of clothing that are still in good condition. This type of social entrepreneurship promotes the idea of sustainability and the circular economy as it utilizes the concept of reusing goods, which is known to be one of the most sustainable ways to deal with a product at the end of its life cycle.

A social enterprise requires pretty much the same effort as a traditional business, if not more. If you have an entrepreneurial drive, you should consider becoming a social entrepreneur to cater to and transform your local community by providing solutions to existing social problems. I hope that through this article, you may draw inspiration from these ideas for social entrepreneurship and create your social enterprise. Social entrepreneurship allows you to be part of the transformative process of creating a more equitable, ethical and sustainable society through businesses.

The Important Work of SEYW to Youth Social Entrepreneurship

The EU acknowledges the importance of social entrepreneurship for economic prosperity and social growth and thus funds European projects like SEYW that support social entrepreneurship.

SEYW provides the opportunity to youth workers to learn more about social entrepreneurship, find the different perceptions and legislation that exists in Europe, and share good practices of social entrepreneurship methodologies that can be replicated by youth. Overall, SEYW wants to increase the number of social enterprises created by youth as they serve as promising avenues for employment and social good.

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Creating a Winning Business Plan for Social Entrepreneurs

MAY.23, 2023

Business Plan for Social Entrepreneurs

1. What is a Social Entrepreneur Business Plan?

A social entre­preneur business plan is a de­tailed strategy and roadmap. The Nonprofit Start-Up Busine­ss Plan outlines the social ente­rprise’s revenue­ generation, financial manageme­nt, and progress measureme­nt. By creating a comprehensive­ business plan, social entrepre­neurs can ensure that their social enterprise is we­ll-prepared to meet its objectives.

2. Why do we need a social entrepreneur business plan?

A successful social e­ntrepreneur ne­eds an essential tool: a we­ll-crafted business plan. This plan serves multiple purposes. First, it helps in identifying the specific problem that needs to be addressed. Second, it sets clear goals and de­fines the target audience. Third, it devises strategies for achieving these­ objectives. Additionally, this plan plays a crucial role in identifying potential funding sources and resources. It also maps out a timeline for goal attainment.

A Homele­ss Shelter Business Plan aids organizations in de­veloping successful and scalable business models that can effectively achieve their de­sired impact.

3. Sources of funding for social enterprise businesses

Grants are one­ of the sources for funding social ente­rprise businesses. Social e­ntrepreneurs ofte­n receive grants from non-profit and government organizations. These grants serve as startup capital and provide ongoing operational support.

Links to funds for non-profit organizations: Newprofit: https://www.newprofit.org/ Ashoka: https://www.ashoka.org/en-us MassChallenge: https://masschallenge.org/

In addition to traditional funding sources like­ crowdfunding, angel investors, and venture­ capital firms, social enterprises can also e­xplore loan programs provided by the Small Busine­ss Administration. Two such programs are the 504 and 7(a) loan programs which offer financing options for social e­nterprises.

Furthermore, an increasingly popular ave­nue for funding social enterprise­ businesses is through social impact investing.

4. How to write a social enterprise business plan

  • Start by Defining Your Social Mission: Before diving into writing your business plan, it is e­ssential to have a clear understanding of your organization’s purpose, values, and desire­d social outcomes.
  • Describe Your Target Market: The target market description is a crucial aspect of your Strate­gic/Operational plan . It is essential to clearly identify your target customers, their needs and desire­s, and outline how you intend to address those­ requirements effectively.
  • Outline Your Business Model: Then comes outlining your business model. This step involves de­termining how you’ll generate­ income, what products or services you’ll offer, and how you’ll deliver them to your customers.
  • Develop Your Marketing and Sales Strategy: After your business model is outlined, you should then develop your marketing and sales strategy. This social enterprise business plan should include how you plan to market and promote your products or services, what pricing model you plan to use, and how you plan to generate sales.
  • Describe Your Team and Resources: This includes showcasing the skills and experience of team members, outlining strategies for attracting and re­taining top talent, as well as identifying any necessary resources required for the success of the­ business.
  • Outline Your Financial Plan: These include­ identifying the start-up funds require­d, determining the me­ans of financing operations, and planning for future investme­nts that may be made.

5. Executive summary

Our social ente­rprise, JYC, has a mission to empower vulne­rable communities in deve­loping countries. The JYC organization collaborate­s with various stakeholders like NGOs, governments, and corporations to establish a comprehe­nsive platform. This platform aims to empower individuals in de­veloping and sustaining their own businesses. Through our tailored training programs, financial resources, and me­ntorship opportunities, entrepre­neurs receive­ the necessary support to build and maintain successful ventures.

6. Company (Institutional) analysis

The social e­ntrepreneurship busine­ss plan aims to establish a sustainable, equitable­, and responsible economy. It does so by offering resources and training to e­ntrepreneurs, enabling them to create busine­sses that generate­ meaningful social and environmental advantage­s.

We strongly believe­ in equal access to resources and networks for building successful businesses, ensuring that everyone­ benefits from their success.

7. Structure and Background

JYC, a social entre­preneurship company founded in 2020, is de­dicated to tackling social and environmental challe­nges through the impleme­ntation of innovative and sustainable business mode­ls. Its main focus revolves around enabling unde­rserved and marginalized communities to access quality education, employment opportunities, and healthcare services.

Our team comprises skilled professionals from diverse­ sectors, including finance, technology, and social work. Their collective experience empowers us to create sustainable solutions that drive positive­ social change while fostering financial stability.

Social Entrepreneur Business Plan

8. Market (Industry) analysis

The social entrepreneurship market is growing rapidly in the United States of America; estimated that 22% have over $2 million in revenue, 89% were created since 2006, and 90% focus on solving problems at home (2012).


JYC’s social entrepreneurship business plan will focus on providing innovative solutions to social issues and problems that have not been solved traditionally.

9. Competitor analysis

Our social entrepreneur business plan template competitors are:

  • Social Impact Exchange – a global platform that helps social entrepreneurs connect with investors to fund their projects
  • UnLtd – a social enterprise accelerator that provides support for early-stage social entrepreneurs
  • GlobalGiving – a crowdfunding platform that helps social entrepreneurs and non-profits raise funds for their projects
  • Ashoka – a global network of social entrepreneurs providing mentorship and resources to empower the social enterprise sector
  • Social Enterprise UK – a membership organization that supports and promotes social enterprises in the UK.

10. Services and Products

Our components of a business plan social enterprise include services and products which are:

  • Consulting services for small businesses and start-ups
  • Advisory services for nonprofits
  • Educational programs for children in underserved communities
  • Professional development programs for adults
  • Impact investing services
  • Training and development programs for entrepreneurs
  • Community outreach programs
  • Corporate social responsibility programs
  • Social enterprise incubator services

11. Sales and Marketing Plan

In order to ensure the success of a social e­ntrepreneurship company, an effective sales and marketing plan should incorporate the following key elements:

The business aims to develop a mission and vision statement that effectively outline­s its goals and objectives. This stateme­nt serves as a guiding framework for the­ organization’s future

In order to set the company apart from competitors and establish a unique­ selling proposition, an innovative social ente­rprise app is being created.

In order to effectively promote a product or service, it is important to develop a compre­hensive marketing strategy.

12. Operational plan

Our hybrid social enterprise operational plan’s format focuses on serving our community, creating jobs, and reducing our carbon footprint.

  • Supporting local businesses
  • Incorporating green practices into our operations
  • Developing social programs to benefit the community
  • Establishing a system of sustainable production
  • Creating partnerships with nonprofits and public institutions
  • Minimizing waste and energy consumption.

13. Evaluation/assessment

  • Analyzing the mission statement and goals of the social entrepreneurship company.
  • Examining the business model and resources required to achieve success.
  • Assessing the impact of the company on the community.
  • Examining the company’s financial health and sustainability.
  • Evaluating the management team and their ability to execute the plan.
  • Analyzing the marketing strategy and its effectiveness.
  • Evaluating the potential for growth and scalability.
  • Assessing the competitive landscape and how the company can differentiate itself.

14. Management team

Executive Team:

  • Chief Operating Officer
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Chief Technology Officer
  • Head of Human Resources

Advisory Board:

  • Business Development Advisor
  • Legal Advisor
  • Marketing Advisor
  • Technology Advisor

15. Projection and Financial Planning

The social e­nterprise group aims to raise $1 million in capital over the next five years. This funding will support various aspects, including platform development, staff recruitment, and covering ope­rational expenses. The­ organization plans to generate re­venue through government contracts and by offering data analytics services to local governments.

Startup Costs

The initial startup costs for this business will be $200,000.

The primary source of revenue will come from government contracts and data analytics services. Government contracts will provide a steady stream of income, while data analytics services will provide additional revenue.

Financial Highlights

The projected financial highlights for the business are as follows:

  • Revenue: $1.5 million by 2024
  • Profits: $400,000 by 2024
  • Return on Investment: 40%
  • Cash Flow: $1.2 million by 2024
  • Break-even Point: 12 months

16. Discover the Power of Social Entrepreneurship with OGS Capital

Highly efficient service.

Highly Efficient Service! I am incredibly happy with the outcome; Alex and his team are highly efficient professionals with a diverse bank of knowledge.

OGS Capital specialize­s in assisting entreprene­urs in developing and implementing impactful social entreprene­urship business plans. Our highly experie­nced team collaborates with nume­rous social entreprene­urs to create custom plans that yield me­asurable outcomes.

Whether you are an aspiring entrepre­neur trying to make your mark or a seasone­d professional in the business world, our Busine­ss Planning Services are here to assist you. We specialize­ in developing comprehe­nsive plans that fully embrace your unique­ vision and core values. Through close collaboration, we­ will work diligently alongside you to identify the­ optimal strategies for success and de­termine the necessary resources to bring your goals to fruition.

OGS Capital values the­ transformative power of social entre­preneurship. With our guidance, you can establish a social ente­rprise that leaves a lasting, me­aningful impression.

OGS Capital can be your re­liable partner in creating a robust social e­ntrepreneurship business plan. Feel free­ to reach out to us today for assistance.

Q. What are examples of social entrepreneurship businesses?

1. Revolution Foods: Revolution Foods is a social enterprise providing healthy meals to underserved students. https://www.revolutionfoods.com/

2. Kiva: Kiva is a nonprofit providing micro-loans to developing countries’ entrepreneurs. https://www.kiva.org/

3. Ecosia: Ecosia is an online search engine that donates 80% of its profits to reforestation projects worldwide. https://www.ecosia.org/

4. Warby Parker: Warby Parker is an eyewear company that donates a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair purchased. https://www.warbyparker.com/

5. Solar Sister: Solar Sister is a social enterprise that helps women in Africa build businesses selling solar-powered products. https://solarsister.org/

Q. How do you write a social enterprise business plan?

When establishing a social enterprise, it is crucial to unde­rtake the task of crafting a comprehe­nsive business plan. This plan serve­s as a roadmap, outlining key aspects such as the e­nterprise’s objective­s and mission, the range of service­s or products on offer, an analysis of the intended audience and market, financial conside­rations, a succinct overview of the marke­ting strategy, and a timeline e­ncompassing both launch and growth milestones. A meticulously de­veloped social ente­rprise business plan sets the­ stage for success in this impactful venture­.

The plan should have­ a comprehensive e­xplanation of the enterprise­’s mission and values. It should also address the compe­titive landscape and any applicable re­gulations. When writing the plan, it is important to be thorough, re­alistic, and ensure clarity for easy understanding.

Download Social entrepreneur business plan Template in PDF

OGSCapital’s team has assisted thousands of entrepreneurs with top-rate business plan development, consultancy and analysis. They’ve helped thousands of SME owners secure more than $1.5 billion in funding, and they can do the same for you.

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Are Nonprofit Business Plans Dead?

by Suzanne Smith | Jul 29, 2020 | Business Planning , Grow , Growth/Scaling Plans , Impact , Impact Measurement , Lean Start-Up , Program Development , Social Impact Architects

For our work at Social Impact Architects, we have created a customized version of the business model canvas for our nonprofit and social entrepreneur clients called the “social business model canvas.” HUGE THANKS to David Claps, senior consultant, for all his effort on the amazing work. We needed to adapt the model for a few reasons. 

First , the canvas allows us and our clients to test out a new idea early on in the strategy development process using criteria unique to the social sector (e.g., community need, sustainable revenue streams).  A key benefit of the modified canvas is that it forces social entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders to acknowledge the tension between  impact  and revenue. A viable social sector business idea must support both.  The idea must generate impact – community benefit that brings something new to the table – through an ongoing commitment to evolve the idea. It must also ensure there are stakeholders who value the idea enough to support it through a mix of revenue streams and a plan for long-term  sustainability . If the idea can’t pass the test of the social business model canvas – for example, because you discover that your unique value proposition doesn’t connect to how you generate revenue – you can quickly see that the idea is not feasible or needs tweaking before much time or effort is invested.

Second , fewer and fewer nonprofits and socents are spending the time, energy and money on developing full business plans. We suspect this is the case because of the chicken-and-egg scenario nonprofits and social entrepreneurs face: in order to fund a new business idea, you need capital from your trusted partners and funders. But, to secure the new capital, you need to expend existing capital on developing a business plan you can use to influence your funders. This is an expensive task, especially when organizations have limited unrestricted funds available, making it a high-risk endeavor. Social business model canvas allows organizations to articulate the business fundamentals of a new idea without going into extraneous detail. It is also easily digested and highly presentable – great for external stakeholders.

Third , the full business plan is also falling out of favor with entrepreneurs. Compared to a business plan, the canvas better complements the tenets of lean startup  where you develop a quick prototype and gather rapid feedback for further iteration.  It helps you get your ideas on paper in a quick way that is easily shared when you’re looking for input from your colleagues, customers or funders.

While the standard business model canvas is beneficial for nearly any type of business, it was not built with the nuances of the social sector in mind. For it to answer the right questions and serve as a litmus test for social business or program ideas, we have augmented the original framework. We have merged, renamed or removed many of the original components while also adding some new components we think are important to the social sector. In our version, the main components are supported by the bookend considerations of anchor purpose and impact.

Anchor Purpose

  • The underlying motivation and goals for existing
  • Its larger purpose within the community

Similar to a  mission statement , all components of the idea should connect with your stated anchor purpose. If they do not, you can see right away the idea might lead to mission drift or need further finessing.


  • Those who have a vested interest in organizational success
  • Those who are affected by organizational outcomes

Think about stakeholders broadly. They are not just funders, but also those you intend to serve as well as community members at-large. It may help to define your primary and secondary stakeholders and analyze how the idea will affect these groups in similar or dissimilar ways.

Community Need

  • How the organization will determine which needs of the community are not being met and how it can meet them

In general, we advise clients to work in areas of well-documented community need. Otherwise, potential impact may never be fully realized. You should be able to articulate how your idea will meet a need – and that the need is not already sufficiently serviced by another organization.

Unique Value Proposition

  • The value brought to stakeholders and differentiation from existing options
  • How the value translates to service offerings and delivery

You should be able to articulate what value your idea creates – for your organization, for your community, for all your stakeholders – and how it is unique. The unique value proposition  should describe why your idea is worth doing.

Key Talent, Activities and Resources

  • What  talent  is needed to realize impact
  • What key activities and resources are needed to launch and create value for stakeholders

Think about all the inputs needed to get your idea off the ground. This could include additional funding, more or different staff, or more time from executive leadership. Be sure to prioritize these needs so you can launch in the order required.

  • The key cost drivers for base operations and service delivery

While it is tough to come up with every cost without moving onto to a full business plan and financial model, you should have a grip on the main cost drivers. It may help to think through both fixed and variable costs as well as start-up costs. Do not forget to include the operating costs that will add to overhead as well as variable programmatic costs.

  • How the organization can grow its impact by expanding reach within its core region

No matter the size and scope of impact intended, the success of your business idea is likely predicated on growth. In this section, think about how far and how fast you want to grow your reach and how you will do it. Organically over time? Through partnerships? Understand the viable options.

Outreach Strategy

  • How the organization will interact with the community, build awareness and achieve initial buy-in

Think about how you will drive attention at the start of the business as well as in the long-term. If this is a client-based idea, will you bring in initial clients by hiring a well-connected local leader? If your idea is to launch programs in a part of your state you have not worked in before, will you secure a partnership with a leading organization in that region? The strategy can be varied here, but before you get moving, you must understand the pathways to build awareness.

Sustainable Revenue Streams

  • The key revenue streams and the mix of revenue sources required for long-term sustainability

Your revenue streams will likely connect to your stakeholders – some segment(s) of those you serve will generate revenue for the business line or organization. Make sure you understand what will generate revenue, not only at the start of the business, but also for the long-term. If your business model relies on earned income, you will also need to determine how the market will support your pricing. For example, is the market most agreeable to fee-for-service or sliding scale pricing?

  • The intended community benefit of the organization and how it measures its outcomes

Think about your idea in the future. If your business or program idea takes off, how are your stakeholders positively impacted – in the short-term and in the long-term? How will you measure it? This – like the anchor purpose – is the foundation of the canvas.

click to enlarge image

Our hope is this revamped version of business model canvas will serve as a valuable tool whenever you are working on strategy and considering changes to your social sector business or program.  With a full business plan falling out of use, we hope this template will help you think through your ideas more efficiently. We also suspect this may be a useful tool in the time of  COVID  where organizations are looking to strategize quickly and cheaply to respond to emergent community needs. We would love your feedback after you use the canvas – we will continue to add new ideas and tips as we continue to use this with our clients and students.

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Business First Family Business, Accounting, Finance, Investing, Marketing And Management

10 skilled social work business ideas to capitalize on entrepreneurial growth.

Updated by: Business First Family June 7, 2022 in Business

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social business plan ideas

There are various social work business ideas to start in 2022. Typically, social enterprise ideas arise from a desire to address social needs such as environmental, economic and community profitability. In fact, many companies are trying to merge business acumen and innovation to create permanent social change advancements. As an aspiring social work business owner, there are several powerful roles that can provide positive change to communities around the world. Read on to learn about the different social work business ideas you can start in 2022.

Types Of Social Work Business Ideas

School counseling.

You can find a career in social work as a school counselor. First, you must obtain a four-year undergraduate degree and a master’s in social work, psychology or counseling to start a counseling business . Once qualified and hired, you can start working with children in an educational environment. For example, you can help students maintain and improve their mental health. Plus, you can collaborate with children who live with social or developmental disabilities and teach them how to be comfortable with themselves. More so, you will be able to help students stuck in abusive living environments and help raise their overall well-being. Certainly, become a school counselor and improve the lives of students living in difficult situations.

Energy Consulting

Of course, open an energy consulting company as your social work business in 2022. Starting an energy consulting business can help clients make positive energy-based decisions. First, administer an energy audit for all clients and their properties, including single-family homes or large data centers. Then, provide an in-depth report that offers specific recommendations to reduce energy-based consumption. As a result, your clients can determine ways to conserve energy and improve efficiency, such as solar panels, energy-efficient space heaters or geothermal systems. Additionally, consider providing clients with information about possible tax incentives for financing alternative energy systems. Definitely think about open a social work energy consulting business.

Next, consider opening a bookmobile as your social work business. This career allows you to provide the gift of reading to areas and communities who have limited access to libraries. Of course, fund your business with a bookmobile grant program. Here, you can receive up to $3,000 to purchase books. Or, solicit donations of used and new books from friends, family or kind benefactors. More so, you can start a crowdfunding account to raise funds to purchase a vehicle. Then, you can travel to poverty-stricken, impoverished and deprived communities to provide educational entertainment for the townspeople. Certainly, contemplate starting a bookmobile as your social work business idea.

Nursing Home Social Worker

Another social work business idea includes working in a nursing home. This position allows you to advocate and care for each patient’s well-being. Of course, you will be protecting the elderly residents against neglect, abuse and mistreatment. In fact, you are in charge of ensuring that all their needs are being met with personalized senior home care services by the nursing home facility. For example, you can help nursing home residents manage their psychosocial, mental and emotional needs. More so, you can help the patient’s family with all medical, financial and emotional decisions relating to their loved one. Certainly, consider opening a nursing home social work business to care for the elderly and their families.

social business plan ideas

Social Supermarket

Furthermore, you can start a social supermarket business. Open a store that caters to several social needs. Consider selling items that were purchased at meager prices to low-income families. For example, you can sell dented cans or products near their expiration date. Plus, consider partnering with local producers. As a result, your social supermarket reduces transportation and energy consumption to produce sustainable food production. Of course, you can also sell organic foods and products that are created in an ethical manner such as animal treatment, environmental sustainability and workers’ welfare. Definitely open a supermarket business to contribute to the social work industry.

A Closer Look Into The Social Work Industry

Whether you are just considering enrolling in an online masters in social work or you’re already enrolled at a well-known school such as Rutgers Online it’s important to start thinking about what you want to do with your education. Perhaps you want to open your own business and are wondering if your online social work masters will help you bootstrap your venture. Here’s a closer look at social work businesses.

Job Outlook

One of the main concerns for social work students is, of course, job outlook. Social workers’ job outlook is at a record high. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 19% growth in social work until 2022. This is a much better statistic than other similar areas. This is important to note when considering whether or not to open a social work business for yourself after graduation.

School Social Work

While many boards may have their own social workers, others might not. You can open your own business that focuses on school aged children. It will be your job as a school social worker to work with that child and to also be their liaison between the student and their parents/family. You will also ensure that their needs are met in school if there are any special classes or help required like getting to career fairs . At any given moment, you could be working with a number of students at once.

Family Support Worker

In this career, you won’t just be helping a child you will be helping the entire family by offering support. It could be that the family is just going through a temporary problem, or the issues could be more long-term. The goal is that you offer emotional support to all the family members and practical help with issues such as homelessness, domestic abuse, and more.

For this position, you need to be able to work not just with kids but also with adults, being able to speak with them, understand them, and communicate in a way that is helpful.

social business plan ideas

Community Outreach Program

Another option is to run a community outreach program , or to head up one. These can be non-profit businesses that impact thousands of people. While many think these programs exist only in large cities the fact of the matter is that they can be found all over the country. In this position, you will be the main source of contact for the volunteers who work there and the organizer of the program.

Your duties will be to help get the word out about the program through fundraising events, gather up a donor list, train the other volunteers, and create non profit management strategies for future and current media campaigns. This is ideal for the person who wants to use their social work degree but at the same time has an interest in business and marketing.

Support Center

For those who are really ambitious, you may want to look into opening your own family support center. If you are the one operating the center then your role will take on more of a management position , similar to running an outreach center. You’ll need to create a marketing plan, find donors and sponsors, provide training, hire staff, etc.

A community support center is a not-for-profit center that helps the people in the community by providing a wide variety of services and programs, like social media security lectures or similar. Instead of running one you may wish to work at one taking the role of a support worker instead.

The Doors are Open

Once you obtain your masters in social work you will find a variety of doors will be opened for you giving you a chance to have a very rewarding career or business. Depending on your interests, choose a path that is right for you. Owning a pizza franchise may be a better fit for you. Of course, with the right team, you could have a very financially and socially rewarding business.

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10+ Best & Profitable Social Work Business Ideas [2023]

Author: Nick C headshot

Hello there, future entrepreneurs! Ever thought about how you can combine your passion for helping others with your entrepreneurial spirit? Well, you're in luck. As 2023 dawns on us, it brings with it a plethora of opportunities in the social work business sector that are not only profitable but also incredibly fulfilling.

Imagine waking up each day, knowing that your work is making a significant difference in someone's life. Sounds like a dream, doesn't it? But, guess what? It's entirely possible! And we're here to guide you through it.

Whether you're a seasoned social worker looking for a change, or a budding entrepreneur searching for a venture that aligns with your values, this article is your treasure trove. We've compiled a list of over 10 of the best and most profitable social work business ideas for 2023.

So, are you ready to embark on an entrepreneurial journey that promises both financial rewards and the satisfaction of contributing to society? If your answer is a resounding "Yes," then read on, my friend. Let's dive into the world of social entrepreneurship together!

Business Ideas:

  • Case Management Services
  • Organizational Consulting
  • Individual, Family And Parent Counseling
  • Professional Development And Training
  • Advocacy And Community Outreach
  • Social Media Consulting
  • Mediation Services
  • Senior Care Services
  • Mental Health Services
  • Trauma-Informed Care Services

Our 10+ Best Social Work Business Examples:

1. case management services..

Case management services is a way of providing support, guidance, and resources to someone who needs special attention with a particular issue or situation. It can help individuals, families, and organizations manage their current or future needs. Case management services can cover a range of topics such as health, mental health, housing, employment, finance and more. It is an effective way to help people who are unable to take on the responsibility of managing their own wellbeing on their own.

  • Case management services can provide access to resources such as support groups, counseling and other services.
  • Case managers can offer assistance in navigating the complexities of paperwork and legal procedures relating to an individual’s specific situation.
  • Case managers are often case advocates and liaisons from government agencies or organizations.
  • Case management services can drastically reduce the time needed for case resolution as well as costs associated with it.
  • High-quality case management services will provide a customized approach tailored to the individual’s specific situation.

Form an LLC in your state!

social business plan ideas

2. Organizational Consulting.

Organizational consulting is a field of professional services that helps organizations become more efficient and effective. Common organizational consulting services include helping with organizational strategy, operational process improvement, personnel management, financial planning and analysis, mergers and acquisitions, project feasibility studies, and other performance related services. An organizational consultant can offer a variety of services to help businesses become more successful and make their goals achievable.

  • Assisting with strategy development
  • Improving operational processes
  • Assessment of personnel management strategies
  • Providing financial planning & analysis
  • Assisting with mergers & acquisitions
  • Conducting feasibility studies
  • Developing performance improvement plans

3. Individual, Family And Parent Counseling.

Individual, family and parent counseling is a type of counseling that focuses on providing support and guidance to individuals, families and parents. It can be used to help people work through difficult situations and develop new skills, strategies and perspectives. It can also be used to help people manage stress, improve their relationships, identify their goals and enhance communication. These counseling services can be offered in person or online, making it an ideal business concept.

  • Promotes mental health: Counseling offers a safe environment for individuals to work through issues which can help them cope more effectively with life’s challenges.
  • Helps build stronger relationships: Counselling sessions provide an opportunity for families to explore their dynamics and learn how to better communicate with each other.
  • Identifies weaknesses within family systems: Counseling sessions can help identify patterns of behavior within a family system that are contributing to issues or negative dynamics.
  • Provides problem-solving strategies: Counseling sessions provide an opportunity to develop strategies for problem solving and dealing with difficult emotions or situations.
  • Allows people to gain control over their lives: Counseling allows individuals to take control of their lives by helping them develop the skills they need to make healthier choices.

4. Professional Development And Training.

Professional development and training is a system or process of equipping and empowering employees with knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to do their jobs effectively. It is an important part of any business and is beneficial in many ways. Some of the benefits of professional development and training include:

  • Employee engagement
  • Improved customer service
  • Increased staff productivity
  • Reduced turnover rate
  • Enhanced job satisfaction

Professional development and training can be a great business idea as it encourages employee growth, motivation, and retention which in turn can help improve an organization's overall performance.

5. Advocacy And Community Outreach.

Advocacy and community outreach involve engaging with individuals and communities about their rights, needs, and interests. It is a way to promote social change and understanding between people. Advocacy and community outreach can be used to create awareness about an issue or to address inequities in access to resources. It can also be used to create networks of support for a cause or group of people.

  • It encourages organizational collaboration
  • It builds relationships between individuals and communities
  • It allows individuals to come together for the common good
  • It creates opportunities for systemic change
  • It promotes understanding and mutual respect

6. Social Media Consulting.

Social media consulting is a business that provides advice, guidance, and specialized management services to small businesses and individuals regarding utilizing social media platforms to meet their marketing, communications, and advertising goals. It is a great business idea for those who are experienced in marketing and who have knowledge of how to best leverage the capabilities of social media. Here are some benefits of starting this type of business:

  • You can help businesses engage current and potential customers
  • You can create a unique value proposition for potential clients
  • You will have the opportunity to stay ahead of emerging trends in the social media industry
  • You will gain valuable insights into how certain platforms work
  • You can develop personalized strategies based on data gathered from your clients

7. Mediation Services.

Mediation services are an invaluable tool in resolving conflicts between two or more parties. It is an impartial, cost-effective and time-efficient means of communication and problem-solving. A business offering mediation services can provide a valuable and beneficial service to clients. Here are some reasons why setting up a mediation services business could be a great idea:

  • Flexible working hours which allow you to work full or part-time
  • Minimal overhead costs due to the virtual nature of the services offered
  • Offer clients a useful and beneficial service that can resolve conflicts quicker than through traditional court proceedings
  • No need for expensive office space or staff as most mediation services take place virtually
  • Can provide a steady stream of income as the demand for mediators is constantly increasing.

8. Senior Care Services.

Senior care services provide support and assistance to elderly individuals with tasks such as errands, meals, transportation, and housekeeping. This type of business has the potential to become very profitable due to the increasing demand for these services. Some advantages of starting a senior care business include:

  • Ability to help those that need it
  • Low startup costs
  • Flexible hours
  • High earning potential
  • Potential for long-term contracts

9. Mental Health Services.

Mental health services encompass a wide range of different treatments, from counselling and therapy to prescribed medication and group support. Starting a mental health services business is a great way to make an impact on people's lives while also creating a profitable business. There are several reasons why starting a mental health services business is an appealing idea:

  • High Demand - Mental health issues are increasingly prominent in today's society, with more and more people seeking help for their mental health related issues.
  • Help Others - You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping others manage their mental health problems.
  • Employment Opportunity - Providing mental health services offers the opportunity to provide employment to those who need it most.
  • Flexibility - The hours of operation can be tailored according to your personal preferences and those of your clients.

10. Trauma-Informed Care Services.

Trauma-informed care services provide therapeutic and healing services to individuals who have experienced trauma and can be an important business idea. Trauma-informed care focuses on creating a safe and healing environment that recognizes the signs of trauma in those served and takes into account the impact of trauma on an individual’s overall wellbeing. Trauma-informed care services can offer a range of healing, therapeutic, and educational offerings such as:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Exposure therapy
  • Creative arts therapies
  • Trauma-informed yoga classes
  • Psychoeducational classes about self-care, coping strategies, self-awareness, and mindfulness practices

Successful Examples of Social Work Businesses:

Here are some of the most successful companies in the social work business industry:

  • Viridian Associates
  • At Your Service LLC
  • The Social Workers Company
  • Assisting Hands Home Care and Nursing Agency
  • Social Justice Solutions International
  • Social Work Consultants, Inc.
  • Reaching Out Community Services Inc.
  • Alpha Social Services, Ltd.
  • Expert Community Solutions Group
  • CareBridge Community Support Services, Inc.

Other Related Social Work Business Ideas:

Business ideas in other states:.

I'm Nick, co-founder of newfoundr.com, dedicated to helping aspiring entrepreneurs succeed. As a small business owner with over five years of experience, I have garnered valuable knowledge and insights across a diverse range of industries. My passion for entrepreneurship drives me to share my expertise with aspiring entrepreneurs, empowering them to turn their business dreams into reality.

Through meticulous research and firsthand experience, I uncover the essential steps, software, tools, and costs associated with launching and maintaining a successful business. By demystifying the complexities of entrepreneurship, I provide the guidance and support needed for others to embark on their journey with confidence.

From assessing market viability and formulating business plans to selecting the right technology and navigating the financial landscape, I am dedicated to helping fellow entrepreneurs overcome challenges and unlock their full potential. As a steadfast advocate for small business success, my mission is to pave the way for a new generation of innovative and driven entrepreneurs who are ready to make their mark on the world.

70 Small Business Ideas for Anyone Who Wants to Run Their Own Business

Meg Prater (she/her)

Published: July 31, 2023

A good business idea may seem hard to come by, but with some planning and preparation, you can easily launch a small business to supplement your income — or become your own full-time boss.

Small business ideas symbolically showing the spirit of a small business

Maybe you already have an idea of the business you’d like to start. But while you might feel ready for a new venture and passionate about your idea, you might be looking for some direction.

Download Now: Business Startup Kit [Free Templates]

To help get you started, here's a list of small business ideas separated into a few sections:

Best Small Business Ideas

Best businesses to start with little money, home business ideas, easy businesses to start, how to start a small business at home.

The first step to becoming a successful entrepreneur is finding a business idea that works for you. In this article, you’ll find dozens of small business ideas you can start from home and scale up as your clientele grows. Let’s get started.

social business plan ideas

Free Business Startup kit

9 templates to help you brainstorm a business name, develop your business plan, and pitch your idea to investors.

  • Business Name Brainstorming Workbook
  • Business Plan Template
  • Business Startup Cost Calculator

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Free Business Startup Kit

Fill out this form to build your business plan today., what makes a good small business idea.

Not all small business ideas are made equal: Some require more effort and funding than others, while some can be launched with few resources — or resources you already have. As a potential small business owner, you’ll want to save as much money as possible on training, rent, supplies, and other necessities.

Let’s go over what makes a good business idea:

  • Requires little to no training . A good small business idea will ideally leverage your existing field of expertise and require little to no training. That will not only shorten your time-to-launch, but also lessen your expenses, since training courses can cost a significant amount of money. Plus, you’ll be more confident offering services that you feel prepared to deliver.
  • Requires low setup costs. Your business should be cheap to start. Maybe you only need to purchase a website domain or buy a desk for your garage.
  • Requires little hands-on inventory or supply management . A great business idea needs few supplies and little inventory management. If you want to sell physical goods, you can either try drop-shipping and manually make goods in small batches.
  • Is based online . The best small business ideas are based online and can be carried out from your personal computer. This will automatically lower your commuting costs and give you greater flexibility over your personal and work life.
  • Can sustainably be managed by few people . As a small business owner, you won’t have the funds to hire other people to help you run your business — at least not at first. A good business idea should give you the ability to run your business on your own.

Airbnb Co-founder, Brian Chesky, said, "If we tried to think of a good idea, we wouldn’t have been able to think of a good idea. You just have to find the solution for a problem in your own life."

If you’re like Brian and you’ve already thought about a solution for a problem you encounter in your life — or you’re on the path to doing so — then starting a small business may be in your future. It may also be for you if you dream of clocking out of your nine-to-five job for the last time and becoming your own boss.

Below, we include the absolute best ideas for you to start your small business — with resources and examples to help you get started.

1. Handyman

small business idea example: handyman

Image Source

Are you always fixing things around the house? Often on-call when friends need small projects completed? Create a website , conduct a competitive analysis to determine what your time and expertise are worth, and turn to the friends you’ve helped before for referrals.

A handyman business is a good idea if you’ve already built a robust set of skills to help others fix up their homes. Consider specializing in what you feel well-prepared to do — for instance, if you know your way underneath a sink and water system, then you might provide sink fixing services to start, then expand your offerings once you earn more skills.

No certifications are needed to become a handyman, and there are no special education requirements. You might need, however, a license if you’re planning to undertake jobs worth more than a certain dollar amount. Some states might not require this license.

To start your handyman business, we recommend the following resources:

  • Handyman License Requirements by State
  • The Most Requested Handyman Services
  • Association of Certified Handyman Professionals

2. Woodworker

Similarly, if you have a passion for crafting beautiful furniture or other home goods out of wood, that could be a small business niche for you. Get started by listing a few of your pieces on sites like Etsy . Once you build a following, consider starting a website, accepting custom orders, or expanding to refinishing work and upholstery.

A woodworker small business is ideal if you already have a passion for woodworking, as well as the tools to begin fulfilling orders as they begin to come in. Since delivering a well-made product is key to keeping your customers happy, you don’t want to be “training” as you create a custom shelf or a custom storage box. It’s recommended to have at least one year of experience as a woodworking apprentice.

To start a woodworking business, there are no special education requirements, but there are a wide range of woodworking training certifications online, so we suggest starting with a certification. The Woodwork Institute , YesTomorrow , and The School of Fine Woodworking are potential places to start.

3. Online Dating Consultant

Dating consultants usually charge for their time. They help people create successful online dating profiles, source possible matches from outside the typical online channels, and offer a level of personalization that a site like Tinder can’t. Think you’ve got a knack for the match? This might be the business for you.

Online dating consultants need to have strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as heightened levels of empathy. The good news is that there are no special education or licensure requirements, though we recommend getting a certification such as IAP College’s relationship coach certification or Hart Academy’s online dating coach certificate .

To start an online dating consultant business, you’ll need a website that shares all about you and offers free dating resources your customers might benefit from. Once they download a resource, you can loop them in for a free consultation.

4. Sewing and Alteration Specialist

small business idea example: sewing and alterations

People will always need clothing hemmed and buttons mended — and you could be the person to do it. If you love sewing and have a sewing machine at home, start by offering simple services like those mentioned above and expand your repertoire to dressmaking and design as you build a customer base and demand.

You don’t need a special license or degree to begin a sewing and alterations business, but it’s essential to build your skills so you can take on more complicated projects. High-value clients will want to customize complicated items of clothing such as suits, pants, gowns, and dresses. That’s where you’ll see the highest potential for profits.

Altering these items require special skills, however. A few courses you might consider include:

  • International Open Academy's Tailoring Course for Beginners
  • Jackson Sewing Academy’s Basic Alterations Course
  • American Bespoke Tailoring Academy’s Programs

You’ll also need to shop for sewing supplies of all colors to accommodate your clients.

5. Freelance Developer

From building websites for other small businesses to providing technical support for certain projects, quality web development is in high demand right now. As a web developer, you'll naturally have a technical skill set. Distill your knowledge and expertise so customers who don't have your experience are able to understand what it is you'll be helping them achieve.

To help with this, test your messaging on friends and family who don’t have a firm understanding of the work you do. If they’re able to summarize what you do, your messaging is likely effective among people outside of your industry. You can start finding your first freelance contracts by visiting different freelance websites .

Unlike a few other options in this list, a freelance developer does need some training to launch a successful business and start taking on projects, but if you’re a beginner, don’t worry. There are plenty of boot camps to get you up to speed with either full-stack or front-end web development. Some of these boot camps are even offered through accredited tech schools.

Some boot camps you might consider include:

  • Coding Dojo
  • Fullstack Academy
  • Georgia Institute of Technology Coding Boot Camp

These vary in price, so be sure to do extensive research to find one that fits you and your budget.

6. Personal Trainer

Offer in-home consultations, personalized nutrition and exercise regimens, and community boot camps to get the word out. Don’t forget to populate an Instagram feed with inspirational quotes, free exercise videos, and yummy snack ideas as well — it’s a common way for fitness gurus to build their brands in our digital world.

If you choose to go this route, it’s OK to start small at first, then scale up. For instance, MOURfit is a personal training business in Indianapolis that started in a shared gym, then grew to a private gym that offers group fitness, personal training, and nutrition services.

To start a personal training business, you’ll need a certification. If you already earned a degree in an unrelated discipline, we recommend starting with the NASM-CPT certification , which is nationally accredited and only requires a high school diploma or GED. You can also get a Bachelor’s degree in physical and exercise science — here’s one example from Emory & Henry College .

7. Freelance Graphic Designer

Set your own hours, choose your projects, and build a portfolio and business you’re proud of. From website design to blog graphics and more, many companies seek out experienced graphic designers for support on a variety of projects.

The good news? There are no special education requirements for becoming a freelance graphic designer, though we recommend seeking a credential (like SAIC’s graphic design certificate or RISD’s graphic design certificate ) or an Associate’s degree in design so you can confidently present your portfolio and complete your first few projects.

If you’re just starting out with graphic design, try these tips and tricks that are ideal for beginners. If you’re more experienced but need to build your portfolio to attract clients, these prompts will get your creativity flowing in no time. We also recommend reviewing other people’s work on portfolio websites to get a feel for what is “trendy” and receive feedback as you grow your small business.

Free Download: How to Hire and Work with Freelancers

8. Life/ Career Coach

If you have experience navigating career, personal, and social transitions successfully, put it to good use as a life or career coach. Many of us are looking for guidance in our careers — and finding someone with the time to mentor us can be tough.

Life/career coaches don’t come cheap, but they are able to offer clients the intense and hands-on training and advice they need to make serious moves in their personal and professional lives. After all, everyone needs some uplifting advice from time to time.

To start your life/career coaching business with confidence, you can look for a certification program (like the Life Coach School’s or Diane Hudson’s ), then apply your skills as you acquire new clients.

small business idea example: Career Coach Nariah Broadus

A resume writing business is economical, has few overhead costs, and has few educational requirements. We still recommend having an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree and a few resume samples on hand. If you still feel that you need to brush up on your resume writing skills, you can take a course like Coursera’s or LinkedIn Learning’s .

Once you’ve gotten resume writing down, you can expand your business to include cover letter writing, and even offer career coaching services in conjunction with these services.

10. Freelance Writer

If you have writing skills , there’s someone out there willing to pay you for them. Write blog posts, magazine articles, and website copy galore — just make sure you have a body of work built up to share with potential clients. Even if you create a few sample pieces to have on hand, they’ll help exhibit your work and attract new business.

To become a freelance writer, it’s essential to choose a specialty. For instance, you might choose to only write for publications in the healthcare industry (maybe because you were previously a healthcare worker), or focus on lifestyle publications. Whatever the case, specializing will help you find your niche market and gain confidence as a new freelancer writer.

There are no educational requirements to freelance writing, but you do need strong writing skills. It also helps to enjoy writing. While a certification may beneficial, getting practice and writing every day is more important. Try these writing prompts to start.

11. Landscaper

Mowing, tree-trimming, and seasonal decor are all neighborhood needs. If you have or can acquire the equipment, a landscaping business can be a lucrative affair. It’s also a great choice if you enjoy doing it for your own home and have a good eye for landscape design.

The good news is that you can start small. For instance, you could offer your neighbors seasonal planting services and start with a few perennial plants, or simply offer mulching services.

To grow your landscaping business, you should consider taking some formal training. The following organizations offer courses:

  • New York Botanical Gardens

After completing a course and getting enough experience, you can apply for a certificate from a landscaping organization. While a certificate isn’t necessary to work in the field, it can build your credentials and help you make industry connections to take your landscaping business to the next level. The Association of Professional Landscape Designers offers one potential certificate you could pursue.

Some states require licensure, especially if you’ll be using pesticides and fertilizers. Be sure to review the requirements for your state.

Learn some of the basics now with this video on landscape design from Lowe’s:

12. Videographer

Video production requires you to have invested in the equipment up front, which can be quite expensive. But that’s also what makes your services so valuable. Make sure you have a reel of your work to share or create a website with several selections of your work available for interested viewers.

There are no educational or licensure requirements for starting a video production business. As with writing and other creative arts, though, it pays to specialize. Real estate videos differ radically from wedding videos, and wedding videos differ radically from in-studio interviews and testimonials. By specializing, you target a highly specific customer who’ll benefit the most from your services, and you can also skill-up more effectively in one shooting style.

While you can find general classes on videography, you should consider taking a class in the type of videography you’d like to do. For instance, you could take The Complete Wedding Videography Course , if that’s the route you’d like to take.

Hot tip: If you’re interested in specializing in video marketing, check out The Ultimate Guide to Video Marketing and download our starter pack below.

→ Access Now: Video Marketing Starter Pack [Free Kit]

13. Photographer

Start by conducting photo shoots for your family and friends. As you build a body of work, ask for referrals and reviews. Photography businesses often grow by word of mouth, so create a Facebook page where you can tag recent clients. Photos where you tag those clients will show up in their friends’ newsfeeds, where they can view your work. You can also ask them to leave reviews on your Facebook business page.

Like with a video production small business, you’ll want to specialize. Will you do product shoots or portraits? How about wedding or fashion photo shoots? Once you specialize, you’ll be able to create a body of work that most accurately represents your strengths.

There are no educational or licensure requirements for starting a small photography business, but we recommend investing in a few photography courses, especially if you haven’t used your camera in a while. Some courses you might start with include:

  • Cornell’s Digital Photography Certificate Program
  • New York Institute of Photography’s Course

From there, seek courses that help you build skills in your chosen specialty.

If you’re not sure where to start with freelance photography, take a look at Erica Clayton’s journey into the business below. Her advice? Give yourself a firm deadline to turn a profit.

14. Bed and Breakfast Owner

small business idea example: bed and breakfast

This is another business venture that will require you to research the correct licensure from your state, but it will be well worth it to see your dreams come true. Consider what guests will be traveling to your area and create special packages and themed stays that coincide with their interests in your locale.

To start a bed and breakfast business, you’ll need a physical business location and a small staff for maintenance, customer service, and upkeep. For that reason, we recommend it if you have startup funds to start your business. (Don’t have any? Here’s how to start crowdfunding to launch your new business .)

A successful bed and breakfast business will also need an SEO-optimized website with a hotel booking system. If you create your website on the WordPress platform, you can easily create a B&B website using a hotel booking plugin — so there’s no need to code the booking form from scratch.

With Airbnb and hotels stealing market share, the competition is tough in the bed and breakfast space, so we recommend providing a unique angle to the stay. As mentioned, the stays can be themed — maybe your B&B is a vintage home with all original furniture, or maybe you offer traditional fare from your homeland.

15. Clothing Boutique Owner

If you dream of building your own fashion empire, why not start with a local boutique? Build buzz with impressive clothing styles, inspiring social media accounts, and heavy community involvement. While you can open a physical store, you can easily start online — and if that proves profitable, you can open up a local shop.

There are a few ways you can start a clothing boutique. First, you can make the clothes yourself if you already have experience in fashion design or know how to sew, knit, and curate colors and patterns.

Alternatively, you can design certain aspects of the clothing — such as a graphic or a logo — then send it to be printed on-demand at a local print shop when orders come in.

Lastly, you can dropship the items from a warehouse you’ve partnered with. This method is less reliable because there’s less quality assurance for each item, especially if you never visit the warehouses yourself. Regardless of the method you choose, starting a clothing boutique is highly doable, and you don’t need to have a fashion degree (though it certainly helps).

Take some inspiration from Sleep Ova , a luxury loungewear boutique based in Los Angeles, CA.

small business idea example: sleep ova

16. Specialty Food Store Owner

small business idea example: specialty food store

Gourmet foods, cheeses, sake, wine — you name a food, there’s a specialty food store out there for it. Put your passion for exotic olive oils to good use and open a store like American Provisions where you offer the kind of expertise and selection your audience couldn’t dream of getting from their local grocer.

To start your specialty food store, you’ll want to curate and source the items from makers that you love and trust. Ask around your community to find local makers of the food you want to sell, and the makers will likely be open to a partnership, especially if they get a cut of the profits.

When it’s time to sell, you’ll want to find a physical location, but if that investment is too high, you can start by setting up stalls at food festivals and local markets. Or you can go the ecommerce route and sell the products through your website, taking care to carefully pack perishable items.

17. Food Truck Owner

Always dreamt of owning a restaurant but not quite ready to take the plunge? Test out your concepts with a food truck. It’s a great way to become familiar with food and restaurant licensing in your state, see what people like and don’t like, and build a ravenous following before ever opening or investing in a brick-and-mortar location.

Food trucks will require a larger investment, but thankfully, you can rent the truck itself — the Food Truck Group and Roaming Hunger are two potential leasers you could look at. The cost will be high, so we recommend renting one in preparation for an event such as a food festival or concert. There, you’ll get to test out the popularity of your cuisine and see if the food truck business is right for you.

Taco Nganas , a taco truck in Memphis, TN, started with one food truck and expanded to three, building a loyal customer base along the way.

18. Car-detailing Specialist

small business idea example: car detailing

The devil is in the details, and you can be too. Car-detailing services that travel to the client are convenient for busy people who can’t find the time to run through the car wash. With this business, your clients only have to pay and the service will be done for them before they know it. Just make sure you have the flexibility, transportation, and equipment to take your business on the road.

There are no educational requirements for car detailing, but you should still take a course such as Auto Finesse’s detailing training to learn core concepts and brush up on your skills.

To get your car detailing business off the ground, you’ll need an SEO-optimized website and a way for customers to book online with you. Before you take that step, however, consider listing your services on websites like Angi , Thumbtack , and even Nextdoor.com so you can get your first local clients.

Don’t have a lot of money to start your business? Check out the ideas below.

1. Translator

Speak a foreign language? Start a translation service. Consider specializing in a specific genre of translation, like medical or financial translation, as you might be able to fill a niche need in your community.

small business ideas: translator

To become a translator, you should have a rock-solid grasp of two languages — ideally, you’ll be near native level for both. You don’t need special credentials to become a translator, but a certification (such as from the American Translators Association ) will legitimize your business and help you get clients.

Prior to gaining a certification, you can also pursue an online certificate, which will teach you the basics of translation. Some providers include:

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • The University of Arizona
  • University of Georgia

2. Garden Designer

Many people have the willingness to do the dirty work in their backyards, but few have the know-how to complete the first part of this process — designing and planning the backyard space. Draw up the designs for your clients’ outdoor spaces and let them do the actual digging.

But you can also offer installation services, or hire your own contractors to fulfill the design.

small business ideas: garden designer

To become a garden designer, you should seek at least one credential so you’re well-versed in the basics and prevent damage to a client’s landscape. The American Academy of Garden Design offers courses and certificates that start at $450. A cheaper option is New Skills Academy’s Garden Design Certification ($120).

Remember, the goal is to start a business for cheap, and a certification can have a high ROI after you book your first few clients for garden design.

3. Travel Planner

The time of the travel agent might be passing, but people are still looking for those with a knack for more nontraditional travel coordination. If you always plan the perfect vacations complete with beautiful hotels, the ideal location, and a bevy of delicious restaurants lined up for every evening, consider advertising your services as a more modern approach to travel planning.

You don’t have to only plan trips for individuals, either. If you’re experienced enough, you can even start a group travel company, like Art N Soul Escapes .

You can become a travel planner by first volunteering to plan a few trips for your family and friends. Try it and see if you like it. Once you feel like you’ve gotten a good taste, attend a travel planner program and get certified. Some options include:

  • The Travel Institute Training & Certification Program
  • Penn Foster Travel and Tourism Specialist Diploma

You can also seek employment at a travel agency first, then strike out on your own once you’ve learned the basics.

4. Home Inspector

A home inspector examines a house’s drywall, electrical wiring, energy efficiency, and structural integrity to find potential issues on behalf of a home buyer. Home inspectors work in the field. They visit homes in person and provide a written inspection report. Alternatively, some home inspectors offer virtual inspections, which may be a good fit if you’d prefer to work from home.

small business ideas: home inspector

Working as a home inspector requires certification and a great deal of expertise, but it can offer a flexible work schedule and stable income. Confirm the licensing requirements in your state before getting started with this type of small business. You’ll want to make sure you’re providing the best service to your clients by having all of your credentials in order.

To become a home inspector, you should invest in a certification program, such as:

  • International Association of Certified Home Inspectors
  • ATI Home Inspector Academy

Be sure to check local authorities and universities for a course.

5. Personal Chef

We all love to eat, but few of us have the time or energy to cook healthy, delicious meals. Advertise your services to local families and businesses alike. To save on start-up costs, consider scheduling certain groups of clients together — say, vegetarians — so you can cook larger quantities of the same dish.

You can also begin by selling food in batches at local farmer’s markets or via a food truck. Once you’ve generated some awareness, you can begin taking on clients. Alternatively, you can start a delivery meal prep service by cooking 5-7 days’ worth of meals for clients.

small business idea example: personal chef

Chef Paul’s mouth-watering dishes are available to clients across the country. His clientele niche consists of athletes, corporate businesses, and local gyms.

6. Property Manager

Many people maintain properties they don’t live in — often based in different cities or states. As a property manager, you can help a property owner ensure their home is well taken care of, handle small fixes as they arise, and serve as a liaison to renters. It’s helpful if you have a background in real estate.

This option is a great fit if you have stupendous organizational, administrative, and customer service skills. As a property manager, you’ll be handling everything from screening potential tenants to collecting rent.

To become a property manager, you must first complete coursework in your desired state. We recommend working at an existing property management company to get your foot in the door. Once you’ve learned the basics, you can then start your own property management business.

7. Massage Therapist

Soothe aching muscles and promote peace for your clients as a massage therapist. As a massage therapist, you’ll offer targeted, personalized care that’s an edge above in-shop or mall massage services. To start this small business, you should invest in customer service courses, as well as a massage therapy certification.

small business idea example: massage therapist

Be sure to look into training and certification courses in your city and state, and to invest in a portable bed to take on client visits.

8. Interior Designer

Similar to landscape design — there are many people who have the ability to buy the furniture and home decor they need to fill their rooms, but few who know where to start. It might take some time to build a portfolio, but documenting your projects and sharing them online can build a fanbase beyond your wildest dreams.

To start an interior design business, we first recommend trying your hand at decorating your friends’ homes and working with their vision and specifications. One big aspect of interior design is providing fantastic customer service and knowing how to fulfill a client’s design vision while employing your interior design expertise.

You can then take an interior design course to round out your knowledge, such as the one offered by The New York Institute of Art and Design .

Need inspiration? Check out Sandra Cavallo’s interior design Instagram account.

small business idea example: interior designer

9. Nonprofit Owner

If you dream of devoting your life to a cause you believe in, it might be time to start a nonprofit. You’ll need to incorporate your business and file for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status — and then you’ll be required to meet ongoing standards of compliance, but the payoff is making a meaningful impact on a cause you believe in.

The best thing is that you can begin a nonprofit easily from your home, even before filing for 501(c)(3) status. First, create a non-profit website (ideally with a .org top-level-domain). Define your mission and goals, and figure out how you’ll execute your non-profit activities. For instance, if you’re raising money to buy books for local schools, who will deliver them? Which retailer will you use? Start small, then expand.

Thereafter, apply for exempt status so that you’re not taxed like a regular business. The profit margins may be smaller, but the job is endlessly rewarding.

Whether you’re a math whiz, piano master, or Shakespeare aficionado, there’s someone out there who needs a little help in your area of expertise and is willing to pay for it. Advertise your services through local schools, community colleges, community centers, and even social media to get the word out and build a customer base.

To start a tutoring business, you should first gain experience educating others by either volunteering or even teaching friends and family. But you can begin straight away by listing your services locally and online and launching a tutoring website.

Be sure to define your niche. Will you be tutoring students in their homes? Or opening a local tutoring location? Which subject will you teach? Create handouts, use textbooks, and know which online resources will be best for your tutee’s learning style.

11. Consultant

If you have significant experience in or knowledge of a specific subject, consider becoming a consultant. Perhaps you’re an expert at hiring practices, have a knack for SEO , or have led multiple sales teams to six-figure success. Identify your expertise and market yourself as a consultant and charge the going rate.

Download Now: Free Consultant's Success Kit

Some consulting industries are more competitive than others, so be sure to complete your research prior to starting a small consulting business. One way to find out how competitive a consulting niche is by doing keyword search . If your target niche is highly searched or already is dominated by big companies, you may have a harder time breaking in. You can use keyword research tools to uncover keyword volume and local demand.

12. Event Planner

An event planning business is an excellent choice if you have great organizational and interpersonal skills, and it’s relatively cheap to start. You might choose to specialize in a specific type of event — like weddings or company meetings — or set yourself up as an event planner of all trades.

The good news is that event planners are always in demand. It’s not a job that can be easily automated, so this small business idea is set to thrive regardless of the digital landscape. To start, you’ll want to look for a platform that will easily allow you to advertise your availability, such as event planner directories like Eventective and WeddingWire .

If you’re highly organized, are detail-oriented, and have experience planning large events, it might be time for others to benefit from your skills.

13. Personal Assistant

Personal assistants help business owners and executives take care of administrative tasks. To launch a freelance personal assistant business, you should leverage networking opportunities on LinkedIn and attend small business events at local chambers of commerce. Most local business owners might not even know they need a personal assistant until you market your services to them.

If you’re an organized, highly-detailed person, the life of a personal assistant might be for you. Don’t want to be tied to one office or person all day, every day? Consider becoming a virtual assistant, which allows you a more flexible work environment.

To become an assistant, choose a niche — will you be helping women business owners specifically? Do you have a specific field of expertise, like bookkeeping? A website can also go a long way, and be sure to print business cards for you to hand out during networking events.

14. Consignment Shop Owner

If you have an eye for style but don’t want to invest in the inventory of a brand-new boutique, consider starting a consignment shop. It will allow you to curate a collection of clothing that matches your goals and aesthetic, without the overhead of a boutique selling entirely new garments.

The beauty of a small consignment business is that you can now start one online. You can sign up on a platform such as Poshmark , Depop , and even Etsy , then easily start selling your own used fashion from home.

Once you’ve defined your niche — such as vintage clothing, unique locally made art, or colorful shoes — you can begin sourcing new products from your local stores and thrift shops.

15. Caterer

If the personal chef gig is too restrictive for your schedule, consider catering instead. Pick your projects, work on fewer but larger events, and hone in on your time management skills.

Becoming a caterer is a natural step for those who are used to cooking for large events — for instance, you may have already catered your friend’s wedding, or brought a 20-person meal to a potluck (that counts, too!).

It’s essential that you have enough temperature-regulated storage for the meals prior to each event, and that you arrange for reliable, temperature-controlled transportation to and from your home kitchen. Alternatively, you can lower your costs by inviting customers to pick up their order at your home.

16. Gym Owner

Kickboxing gyms, yoga studios, CrossFit, oh my! Turn your passion for fitness into a community for others by creating your own gym — start one from the ground up, become an affiliate, or open a franchise location.

Available franchise opportunities include Anytime Fitness, Orangetheory Fitness, Pure Barre, Planet Fitness, Crunch Fitness, and more. Be prepared to take out a loan to finance your franchise — most agreements start with fees upward of $20,000. But the payoff can be tremendous due to brand recognition. You’ll have no trouble recruiting new members as long as you use local marketing strategies .

Alternatively, you can create a local studio, but ideally, it should be for a specific activity instead of general fitness. Yoga, pilates, bootcamp-style gyms, and martial arts perform well as independent fitness studios.

17. Boutique Agency Owner

What’s your specialty? Whether it’s marketing, social media, or PR, it might be time to start your own agency. Many other small businesses need this type of help but don’t have the resources or volume to necessitate a full-time position.

To start an agency, you would ideally have worked in your specialty for a number of years. You should also be prepared to interface directly with clients, fulfill their requirements, and temper their expectations (if they want results in an unreasonably short amount of time).

Consider building a small team and learn from other entrepreneurs who’ve successfully started their own agencies, like Duane Brown of Take Some Risk .

18. Coffee Shop Owner

Turn your caffeine addiction into something a little more lucrative. Opening a franchise or buying an existing shop are lower-risk entry points to the coffee game, but they usually require a little more cash upfront. Starting a shop from scratch requires more planning and work — but it also maximizes your earning potential in the future.

A coffee shop is an excellent fit if you already have a full-time remote job and wish to supplement your income with a small business. You can manage the coffee shop as you work at one of the tables, but be sure to have the budget to hire an experienced barista who can pick up the slack.

If you would like to open a coffee shop and run it full-time on your own, you’ll need to undertake barista training, understand worldwide coffee sources, and have excellent customer service skills.

19. Moving Company

A truck, moving equipment, manpower, and the correct permits and insurance are the building blocks of starting your own moving company . Before you buy your first fleet of trucks, however, start small with a moving van and keep your costs low.

Still sound like too much of an initial investment? Consider offering packing services only, which have a much lower financial barrier to entry. You can partner with moving companies and offer to do their packing, or have them refer clients to you.

You could even take a niche approach to the industry as Astro International has by offering international moving services.

small business idea example: moving company

20. Home Staging

If you have a flair for interior design, a staging service might serve as your creative outlet and professional calling. You can build a portfolio with little initial investment by staging homes using the owner’s existing furnishings and decor. Most stagers eventually build up an inventory of furniture as they become more established and network with area realtors.

To get your first home staging clients, you should first rely exclusively on networking. Find your local realtors’ association and attend their events with business cards handy. Once you’ve gotten your first clients and built your portfolio, you can begin posting your designs on your home staging website.

small business ideas: home staging

If you don’t yet have enough experience, be sure to pursue an interior design course before opening this small business.

These home business ideas give you a few more business options that are either based at home or online.

Frontend, backend, and every type of code in between, this skill requires no in-person interaction with your clients. But one skill you’ll want to carry over from the in-person world for this type of business is active listening. It can be easy to zone out while building a product, but developing a connection with the client is just as important as developing the code for their website.

If you keep the client top of mind when you can’t be around physically, you can ensure that you’re meeting their development needs with your coding work.

Download Now: 25 Free HTML & CSS Hacks

2. Vending Machine Owner

Since 2015, the growth rate for vending machine businesses has increased 1.4%. Even as social distancing restrictions are still in place, this business can still be lucrative if you choose the right locations. High-traffic is key — places like hospitals, schools, and community centers are smart places to start placing your machines to generate enough revenue to cover cost and turn a profit.

small business idea example: vending machine owner

3. Social Media Manager

Do you have a knack for social media? As a social media manager, you can use your skills to manage the social media accounts for companies and even individual people. Influencer marketing has become more common and many influencers rely on marketing agencies or employees to help them run their social channels.

→ Free Download: Social Media Calendar Template [Access Now]

4. Data Entry Clerk

Many businesses seek data entry clerks to help them enter information into their computer systems and spreadsheets. If you have strong computer and typing skills, this might be the business for you.

5. Audio or Video Editor

As of March 2021, there are 1.75 million podcasts available to listeners. For this reason, brands are turning to audio and visual content to connect with consumers. The catch is that many don't have the time to invest in the production of this content, or they don't have the skills to do it. Audio and video editors are in demand when it comes to producing quality content for hungry audiences.

6. Voiceover Artist

Speaking of podcasts and videos, many content creators recognize the value and level of professionalism that great voice talent can bring to a project. There are gigs out there for podcast intros/outros, narration for explainer videos, or even voice work for audiobooks. Learn how to get started with no experience from Kat Theo below:

7. Dog Walker, Groomer, or Trainer

Licensing and insurance will be the two most important factors in opening a dog walking, grooming, or training business, but your canine colleagues will surely make up for the initial red tape. To test the waters before jumping in, consider walking dogs through companies like Rover. Ready to run your own show? Consider a franchise like Dogtopia .

8. Candy Seller

If you grew up in a close-knit, southern neighborhood, you're probably familiar with the " Candy Lady ". This home business can be started by anyone who's trustworthy in the community. Aside from selling the most popular snacks, a candy seller can provide the neighborhood with fresh fruit and produce that may be harder to find if you live in a food desert.

Online Business Ideas

If you want a business idea that you can run entirely online, check out the ones below. These ideas are ideal for those looking for a passive income stream. In other words, you shouldn’t need to do too much manual work to launch these businesses from your home or preferred business location.

1. Become an online reseller.

To become an online reseller, all you need is some business savvy and some funds to invest in product stock from manufacturers — or, of course,the willingness to sell your own used items. Generally, this is a low-touch but high-performance way of creating a passive income online business.

Online resellers usually use a platform, such as Facebook Marketplace or Amazon Sellers, to sell either their own or manufacturers’ stock. The benefit of using Facebook Marketplace is that you can begin today with your own Facebook account, and simply list items that you already own.

Interested buyers typically drive directly to your home for pick-up — but if you’re not interested in human interaction, you can leave it outside and have the buyer pay via an online platform.

online business ideas: amazon seller

Amazon Sellers requires a little more up-front investment, but the yield is usually higher and you can turn your Amazon reselling business into a more passive income stream. Amazon allows you to buy stock from various manufacturers, which they then keep in their warehouses. When an Amazon user buys from you, Amazon will fulfill that order and then give you a substantial cut.

2. Try affiliate marketing.

An affiliate marketing business is a great fit if you already own a website or a blog you wish to monetize. We’ve already shared how blogging is a great business to start — if you’ve already bought a domain name and begun writing content, then using it to start your affiliate marketing business is a great option.

Affiliate marketers create blog posts and content that contain affiliate links. When a user clicks on that link, a cookie is added to their browser that tracks their activity for a specified period of time. If they make a purchase at the affiliate website, then you get a commission — usually recurring, if you’re selling subscription products.

There are countless affiliate marketing programs for you to start your online business. These programs come with many benefits, such as pre-made advertisements and lazy copy for you to use.

To create a viable affiliate marketing online business, you should choose the right blog niche , such as technology, household decor and organization, or fitness, and then find affiliate marketing programs that offer products your readership would be genuinely interested in.

3. Become a content creator or influencer.

Instagrammers, YouTubers, podcasters, and TikTokkers with more than ten thousand followers can eventually turn their accounts into a small online business that generates passive income.

As a content creator or influencer on social media, you can not only earn money from sponsored partnerships, but you can monetize your audience in other ways, such as creating Subscriptions on Instagram , allowing companies to advertise on your YouTube channel, or creating a paid-only newsletter.

online business ideas: content creator

Becoming an influencer or content creator takes hard work, but it can be a fun way to create a small online business, assuming you’re posting content that you enjoy creating. First, you should choose a niche, such as thrifted fashion, work-from-home hacks, or even industry tips. Then, you should learn how to become a social media influencer and digital creator , then create a social media content calendar .

Most importantly, have fun with this online business idea as you give it a try. The good news is that it has little overhead — all you need is a willingness to spend time on social media content creation.

4. Open a dropshipping store.

We’ve mentioned dropshipping a few times already, but this is such a great online business idea that it’s absolutely worth mentioning again. Dropshipping businesses don’t manufacture what they sell, or even buy stock from manufacturers in advance. Instead, wholesalers fulfill the order directly after a buyer places an order through your website.

Opening an ecommerce store can be forbidding for those who don’t want to deal with inventory management or supply chain logistics . Dropshipping is the best alternative.

The only thing you need is the willingness to invest in an ecommerce website builder and the ability to manage relationships with local or international manufacturers. From there, you need to only publish your site and advertise your brand via ecommerce marketing .

Learn how to start a dropshipping business here , with examples.

5. Sell print-on-demand products.

Print-on-demand (POD) is another way to start a dropshipping business, except it’s a little more frictionless because most POD services allow you to create a storefront right on their website, instead of you needing to look for a separate ecommerce site builder.

With a POD online business, you design unique artwork. The print-on-demand provider will allow you to place that design on t-shirts, hats, tote bags, phone cases, and more. You do not keep any inventory; instead, the POD provider will print it only after a buyer makes an order, then ships it directly to them.

online business ideas: print on demand shop

The only thing you need to start this small online business is a penchant for design and the budget to pay for a print-on-demand subscription (although most providers are free, and they simply take a cut of the sale). Get acquainted with design principles and color theory , and you can get started with this business in no time.

6. Become an independent author.

Think becoming an author is only for those who are extremely lucky? Think again. Whether you write historical epics or self-help guides, chances are that there’s a market to read your work, and you can now easily publish it online .

We recommend editing and proofreading your book, or hiring someone to do it, before self-publishing it. Then, it’s as simple as signing up on a self-publishing platform such as Kindle Direct Publishing or Barnes & Noble Press , uploading your file and cover, and pushing it live. You’ll enjoy benefits such as large royalties (up to 70%) and the ability to unpublish the book at any time, in case you find a typo or another change you’d like to make.

To get this online business idea off to a strong start, invest in an author website , spend some time doing social media marketing , and learn the basics of book marketing .

7. Sell downloadable digital products.

Downloadable journals, templates, art prints, designs… Some people would simply prefer to print these at home, instead of paying for the full price of the paper and the design. Downloadable digital products can be a profitable small business idea for those who are already design-savvy or who are willing to learn how to use an online design tool .

online business ideas: digital products

But if you’re not too crafty, you don’t need to create full-on journals or beautiful art prints, either; you can create templates for marketplaces such as Canva’s . There, people are able to customize a base design to their specifications, so you don’t have to worry too much about creating something specially beautiful — it’s more about functionality and customizability.

If you plan to create digital products that buyers can print at home, think about printing specifications, such as recommended paper size, paper weight, PPI (pixels per inch; a higher PPI results in better print quality), and so on. It’s essential to create a positive customer experience, even if users are ultimately responsible for what the final result looks like.

8. Publish a subscription-based newsletter.

We’ve already discussed becoming an independent author, but if long-form writing, such as novels, seems out of reach, you can always go for something much shorter and simpler: Newsletters. And the best part about paid newsletters is that you typically don’t need to have a separate website and blog; instead, you can sign up on a platform and begin publishing right away.

A website can, of course, benefit you, but the core of your revenue will come from the newsletter itself.

online business ideas: paid newsletter

With newsletter monetization platforms such as Substack or even Patreon , you can publish shorter content that features your opinion, experience, and expertise. We recommend pairing this small business idea with a robust social media marketing strategy , where your followers can learn more about you and be swayed to subscribe to a gated newsletter.

Choose a niche you’re passionate about, and this online business idea can feel less like work and more like a profitable hobby.

9. Create an online course.

If you want to monetize your expertise a little further for your online business, then creating an online course is the best choice.

To create a course, you’ll need to sign up on an online course platform such as WordPress or Teachable , sketch out a curriculum, film your lectures, and create worksheets and guides. You can be as hands-on or as hands-off as you’d like, but to make this online business as passive as possible, you’d ideally record all your lectures at once and allow users to access them by paying a premium fee.

If you’d like to try your hand at it first, you can try publishing a course on a platform such as Udemy and see if it feels viable to you. To become an online course teacher, you don’t need a specific level of education, but you should have a strong grasp on the material you’re teaching and a strong set of customer service skills to handle inquiries or course refunds.

10. Transcript videos, shows, and podcasts.

A freelance transcription business is an excellent idea for those who speak only one language and are passionate about improving communication. Transcribers listen to speech, write it out — usually verbatim — and deliver it to the original publisher in an organized document.

This small online business is a good fit for those who are looking for a part-time side business. You should be able to type quickly and have a good listening ear. Indeed has listed the top transcription companies where you can get your foot in the door.

Once you understand how the industry works, you can consider opening your own small transcription business and offering services on freelancer marketplaces such as Fiverr or Upwork .

Whether you’re looking to start your venture today or you simply don’t want to jump through the normal hoops of launching a small business, the below ideas are extremely easy to start — so easy, all you’ll need to do is sign up on a website or tell your friends about your services.

1. Vacation Host

Have you ever used a home-sharing service instead of a hotel? You could make a living by hosting visitors in your own home or renting out a room. Consider becoming a host with companies like Airbnb .

To become a vacation host, you don’t need any special skills except friendliness, courteousness, and agility (in case of guest emergencies or language barriers). A customer service course will prepare you to welcome guests and give them a pleasant stay.

You’ll need to invest in supplies and toiletries, such as new bedding and one-time soaps and toothbrushes, but the overhead is relatively small, and you can stop at any time.

2. Pet Sitter

Do you have a passion for pets? Consider becoming a pet sitter. While the pet's owners are away on vacation, either host their pet at your home or make visits to their home. Join a pet sitting service like Wag to get started.

small business idea example: pet sitter

If you start a pet sitting business, be sure to have some experience with dogs, cats, and other household pets. You should also choose a niche based on timing. For instance, do you prefer long-term arrangements? You can market yourself as an excellent vacation pet sitter. Do you only do single afternoons, or only on weekends? You can pull in clients by telling them you’ll take care of their pets during their dates or weekend trips.

3. Daycare Owner

Childcare continues to be in high demand. While nannies and nanny shares are popular right now, a good daycare is hard to find. Fill a need in your neighborhood by opening your own. And, as always, make sure you’re complying with your city and state’s zoning, licensure, insurance, and inspection requirements.

Home daycares are especially a good fit if you’re an experienced parent and have all supplies ready at home. But be warned that you’ll also need to buy more supplies to accommodate the additional children you’ll need to take care of.

We recommend getting a soft start with this business by advertising it first to your friends, families, and close neighbors. That way, you can better gauge whether it’s a good fit for you and whether you want to make the full investment.

If there’s a topic you have a heavy interest in, then there’s an audience out there with a heavy interest in it too. A blog can be used to build an online community whose engagement can be monetized. Affiliate marketing , sponsored content , and co-marketing are some ways to make money once your blog develops a following.

→ Download Now: 6 Free Blog Post Templates

Blogging is one of the most accessible small businesses to start, and there are countless niches to choose from. That said, because there are many blogs online, you’ll need to learn blog SEO and keyword research to ensure your audience finds you. That way, you actually make money out of your blogging efforts.

The great news is that a small blogging business has a ridiculously low overhead. All you need is a custom domain and your time for writing blog posts.

5. Home-Baked Goods Seller

Warehouse-made, store-bought chocolate chip cookies will never compare to a batch made with love in someone’s home. Simple desserts can be easily baked and packaged to sell at local events or around your neighborhood. Use custom labels and watch the word spread about your goods!

You can begin a baked goods business easily by opening a Facebook and Instagram profile. Facebook and Instagram are both excellent platforms to market your goods, show pictures of your previous baked products, and even showcase happy clients.

Build a loyal following slowly, and save on costs by asking clients to drive to your home to pick up their order. Choosing a niche can be helpful here, or baking in a specific style that can’t be found at grocery store bakeries. The overhead can be especially low if you already have most essential baking supplies.

6. Ecommerce Store Owner

Do you create, collect, or curate anything special? Consider starting an ecommerce store and turning your hobby into a full-time job. Whether you need somewhere to sell all that pottery you’ve been making, or an excuse to search for the sports memorabilia you love tracking down, an ecommerce store can make it financially viable for you to pursue your passion.

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Starting an ecommerce store is simple and easy. You can set up a shop using an ecommerce website builder , all of which start at a minimal monthly subscription (some even start at free). Be sure to take good photos of your products and write descriptive product pages .

If you don’t have inventory, you can always own an ecommerce store by using dropshipping . Instead of creating and shipping your products yourself, you’ll instead partner with a dropshipping website and have them mail out the orders directly to your client.

7. House Cleaner

With a low barrier to entry, house cleaning can be a great way to start doing what you love — soon. Consider advertising to homes in your neighborhood and get more bang for your buck by earning a few small businesses as clients as well. They’ll usually bring in a higher paycheck for a similar amount of work.

To become a house cleaner, you should be prepared to invest in cleaning supplies and accessories, or be willing to use your own. If you plan to serve small businesses, you should buy industrial janitorial supplies so you can get work done more effectively.

Need some inspiration? This small business cleaning service grew virtually overnight on Instagram after their content went viral during the pandemic.

small business idea example: go clean co

8. Packing Services Facilitator

Moving is always a pain, and many people hire the entire packing process out. As a packing services facilitator, you’ll be going to people’s homes and packing up their smaller items into organized boxes. To start this business, you must be comfortable with face-to-face contact and with manual labor.

small business ideas: packing services facilitator

You can begin this business by advertising in your own neighborhood. Once you’re ready to expand, consider partnering with a local moving service that will refer new clients to you. That way, you’ll have a steady stream of clients, and you won’t have to invest in a moving truck (the moving service will take care of that for you).

Business Ideas for Students

1. etsy shop owner.

Creating novelties by hand is a fun and unique way to start a small business, and you can easily sell them via Etsy . Whether you make jewelry, knitted comfort items, or even custom wigs , there’s probably a market for your products and an Etsy buyer who’s ready to purchase.

small business ideas: etsy shop owner

This idea is excellent if you’re already an expert in the craft you aim to sell. That way, you don’t need to pursue additional education or certification courses. Once you set up your Etsy store, which is free, tap into your audience with creative marketing on social media and optimize your website using keywords that describe the products you make.

2. Tour Guide

Love the local history of your city or state? Consider becoming a tour guide. Sure, you’ll need to conduct plenty of research to be able to do the job well, but that’s half the fun. Set yourself apart by offering tours that speak to a specific niche of your community’s history.

You can start a tour guide business easily. First, decide what your specialty will be. Some tour guides, like the ones at Freedom Trail in Boston , offer historical walking tours of their town’s most haunted spots while others curate guided foodie tours for guests to get a true taste of the city.

small business idea example: tour guide

Maybe you love the outdoors and are an experienced backpacker — you can then offer hiking tours. To begin, use a platform such as TripAdvisor or Airbnb, where you can sign up as a tour guide provider. Remember to launch a website, and to file for sole proprietorship status .

3. Online Class Instructor

Tutoring is often done in person and with one client at a time. Remotely teaching an online class offers more flexibility because you can teach multiple students from home. English is a common subject for online classes because of how many people want to learn it. But anything that you have a mastery over could be translated to a virtual class.

4. Small-Batch Goods Seller

Using organic, all-natural ingredients is more expensive, but worth it. There are many products you can learn how to make at home without any preservatives, chemicals, or toxins. Candles, soaps, shampoos, and moisturizers are some examples of goods you can create and tailor with custom scents. Try starting out making soap with this complete beginner’s guide to soapmaking:

5. Makeup Artist

Many people prefer to have a professional do their makeup because they may lack the proper products or just the skills. It may be for a special occasion, photoshoot, or video shoot, or another event. Being able to do a variety of different looks will make your business more attractive to more customers.

To run a successful makeup artist business, you’ll need to be social media savvy . Instagram in particular is an excellent platform to advertise your services and get new clients.

You should also consider honing in on a specific niche. For instance, you might do wedding makeup exclusively.

6. Professional Organizer

A lot of people struggle with clutter or disorganization in their homes and offices. It can be a large undertaking to create organized systems and habits. Grab a lot of storage bins and a label maker and get started!

To become an organizer, you’ll first need to have the chops: Is your own home organized? Do you enjoy making order out of chaos? Then, launch a website to market your services locally. Be sure to create local listings to ensure people find your business, including listings on Angi, Houzz, and Thumbtack.

Meg Golightly, founder at Gosimplified , has made this small business idea into a successful career.

Is your head buzzing with small business ideas yet? After all that brainstorming, you’ll need a practical plan to get started with your new small business.

  • Identify your small business idea.
  • Start as a side business or hobby.
  • Decide on your software.
  • Create a business plan.
  • Decide whether you'll be an LLC or sole proprietorship.
  • Create a business bank account.
  • Determine if your business idea works well from home.
  • Set up an office.
  • Get to work!

1. Identify your small business idea.

Whether you choose an option from the list above or have another idea up your sleeve, it’s important to have the experience, training, or skills necessary to be successful. Want to run a daycare but have never even visited a successful daycare center? Spend time conducting research to learn whether this is really the right fit for your experience, interests, and target audience.

2. Start as a side business or hobby.

Can you get your business off the ground as something you do in the evenings or on the weekends (a.k.a. a side job)? This allows you to make some mistakes, test the market, and understand whether your idea has legs before you quit your nine-to-five job and lose your primary income.

3. Decide on your software.

You’ve got a lot of things on your plate when first starting up. But one step that’s critical (and often forgotten by first-time entrepreneurs) is deciding on the software that can help you be more efficient as your business grows.

Every business is different — but almost all companies can use software to help with analytics, project management , accounting, bookkeeping, email marketing, and other basic day-to-day tasks.

One of the most important software tools every small business should utilize is a free all-in-one CRM platform to keep track of important customer information in one central database. It will help align your team and make sure you stay organized as your business grows.

4. Create a business plan.

No business plan? No business. Particularly if your small business idea requires investors, you'll need to draft up a business plan to provide an overview of your market positioning, your financial projections, and your unique competitive advantages. You can download HubSpot's free business plan templates for free to get started.

One-Page Business Plan Template

Download Free Business Plan Templates

Your business plan should include the following elements:

  • Executive summary — A high-level overview of your company and market placement.
  • Business model — Outline what your business does, who your business serves, and how your business is structured. You should include a description of what products and services you offer, and how they meet the needs of your customers.
  • Market condition — A summary of pertinent competitor information. Determine the strengths and weaknesses of your closest competitors.
  • Products and services — Use this section to describe your products and services in detail, and outline what differentiates your product from others in the market.
  • Operations and management — Outline your business’ organizational structure, key roles, and responsibilities.
  • Marketing and sales strategy — This section should describe how you will market and sell your product. Include information on your ideal customer, how you plan to position your offering, and your sales strategy.
  • Financial plan — Create a detailed outline of your business financials. Include your start-up costs, your initial financial productions, and how you anticipate generating funding.
  • Appendix — Once the above pieces are complete, end the document with an appendix summarizing your business plan.

Every business is different — but almost all companies can use software to help with analytics, project management, accounting, bookkeeping, email marketing, and other basic day-to-day tasks.

5. Decide whether you’ll be an LLC or sole proprietorship.

Two common legal structures for small businesses are limited liability corporations (LLCs) and sole proprietorships.

An LLC is a more complex business structure than a sole proprietorship and can include individuals, corporations, and other LLCs as members. Additionally, LLCs are not subject to a separate level of tax and offer the business owner liability protection and tax advantages. LLCs are formed on a state-by-state basis.

Sole proprietorships are businesses owned and operated by one person and are not identified as a separate entity from the owner by the government. While a sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure, sole proprietors are personally liable for their business.

Besides an LLC or sole proprietorship, there are a few other options for you to consider.

Sean Flannigan, Sendle's Content Manager, says, "While many small businesses might be best served by choosing an LLC or sole proprietorship, there are a few other options."

"Partnerships are great for businesses operated by several individuals. It hews most closely to a sole proprietorship in that the individuals take on the business liability and pay taxes on a personal level."

He adds, "To completely avoid personal liability, small businesses might choose to incorporate as a corporation, S corporation, or B Corp. S corporations avoid corporate taxation whereas B Corps must meet a threshold for public benefit and accountability."

Additionally, Flannigan says, "There are tons of great reasons to become a B Corp beyond just doing good business. All that said, many small businesses that aren't aimed at super-fast growth choose to go with an LLC to keep things simple while shielding owners from too much liability."

Learn more about choosing the right structure for your business from the Small Business Administration.

6. Create a business bank account.

Once you have a legally formed business and have been issued an Employer Identification Number (EIN), open a bank account specifically for your business. Having a business bank account is essential for keeping your personal and business finances separate which can help you gain an accurate picture of your business’s cash flow and financial health.

Additionally, keeping your personal and business finances separate makes bookkeeping and tax preparation easier.

Many banks offer business checking and savings accounts. Business checking accounts typically do not have a limit on the number of transactions that can take place, and issue a debit card that can be used for making business purchases. However, these checking accounts do not accrue interest.

Business savings accounts typically earn interest over time but have a limited number of transactions that can occur each month. When you’re just starting out, look for a business bank account that does not have a minimum balance requirement so you are not penalized for having low funds as you work to build your business.

7. Determine if your business idea works well from home.

Ask yourself whether your business idea will work well from home. Some businesses simply aren’t suited to be based from home. If you want to run a dog boarding center but live in an apartment without a backyard, you might want to consider a dog walking business instead.

8. Set up an office.

If your business idea is well-suited for being run from home, it’s still important you have a designated workspace. While a home office might not be possible, consider setting aside a corner in your living room or putting a desk in your bedroom for a space that inspires you and creates the conditions for success.

Need a more professional space? If you conduct client-facing work requiring you to be on video calls, no one wants to see your rumpled sheets in the background. Check out local coworking spaces for memberships that earn you access to conference rooms, desk space, and more.

9. Get to work!

You’ve put in the hard work and I’ve got good news — it’s only going to get harder. But most entrepreneurs will agree that the payoff of being your own boss, making your own hours, and working on projects that you’re passionate about will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

Starting a Small Business: FAQ

What are the types of small businesses.

The types of small business structures are sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations.

Which business type is best?

The best business type is a limited liability company (LLC). Operating as an LLC means that your personal assets are separate from your business assets. If your business goes bankrupt, your personal holdings won’t be affected. That said, it’s also one of the costlier types, requiring a fee paid to the state.

The easiest business type to start is a sole proprietorship. The main downside is that there’s no differentiation between you and your business.

How do I create a business idea?

To create a business idea, determine your skill set, work preferences, startup budget, and available resources. It’s important to strike the right balance between what you can feasibly offer and what you can feasibly afford in the short and long term.

We recommend starting with your skill set so that you can easily determine the niche in which you can effectively compete. For instance, if you have ample experience as a writer, you might consider starting a freelance writing business. But if you know you’d prefer to work with clients face-to-face, you might choose to start a ghostwriting business instead. That’s why it’s so important to take your work preferences into account, as well.

After that, take a look at your budget and determine the type of business you can start based on the resources at your disposal. For instance, you might not be able to afford a physical office or location, so a location-based business will likely not be a good fit. In that case, starting an online business is your best option.

What are some of the most successful small businesses?

Every small business has the potential to be successful and profitable, provided it’s backed by a strong product-market fit and a robust business plan . These two elements are essential. Maybe post-natal services are one of the most successful small businesses to launch, but if you live in an area with declining population or a large elderly population, then that small business idea won’t yield a high return on investment.

Think carefully about the market where you’re launching your business, and you’ll be more than likely to see lasting success.

What are the top growing small businesses?

top growing small businesses as reported by the bureau of labor statistics

The top growing industries are healthcare support, technology, personal care, food preparation, and community and social service. As such, launching a small business in any of these fields is bound to yield a high return on investment, but remember to take your target market into account.

Here are some small business ideas for each of those industries:

Healthcare Support

  • In-home care assistant
  • In-home elderly care provider
  • Psychological care provider
  • Pre-natal and post-natal support specialist
  • Freelance programmer or web developer
  • Freelance IT support specialist
  • Freelance cybersecurity expert

Personal Care

  • Hair stylist
  • Nail technician

Food Preparation

  • Personal chef
  • Food truck owner
  • Food delivery

Community and Social Services

  • Non-profit owner
  • Education specialist

Brainstorm Your Next Small Business Venture

Selecting a small business idea to work on is a personal decision. Money is important, but you’ll need more motivation than that to keep going. Bounce ideas off your friends and family until you reach the perfect idea that works for your schedule, fulfills your life’s passion, and makes financial sense. Don’t be afraid to ask for help throughout this process — and remember to have a little fun while you’re putting in the work.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Apply for a job, keep track of important information, and prepare for an  interview with the help of this free job seekers kit.

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How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy in 9 Easy Steps (Free Template) | Hootsuite

How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy in 9 Easy Steps (Free Template)

Creating your social media marketing strategy doesn’t need to be painful. Create an effective plan for your business in 9 simple steps.

A social media marketing strategy is a summary of everything you plan to do and hope to achieve on social media. It guides your actions and lets you know whether you’re succeeding or failing.

The more specific your plan is, the more effective it will be. Keep it concise. Don’t make it so lofty and broad that it’s unattainable or impossible to measure.

In this post, we’ll walk you through a nine-step plan to create a winning social media strategy of your own. We’ve even got expert insights from Amanda Wood, Hootsuite’s Senior Manager of Social Marketing.

Bonus: Get a free social media strategy template   to quickly and easily plan your own strategy. Also use it to track results and present the plan to your boss, teammates, and clients.

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing is the practice of using social media channels to sell or promote a brand, product or service.

Social media marketing helps businesses:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Build engaged communities
  • Sell products and services
  • Measure brand sentiment
  • Provide social customer service
  • Advertise products and services to target audiences
  • Track performance and adjust larger marketing strategies accordingly

social business plan ideas

Create. Schedule. Publish. Engage. Measure. Win.

What is a social media marketing strategy?

A social media strategy is a document outlining your social media goals, the tactics you will use to achieve them and the metrics you will track to measure your progress.

Your social media marketing strategy should also list all of your existing and planned social media accounts along with goals specific to each platform you’re active on. These goals should align with your business’s larger digital marketing strategy.

Finally, a good social media plan should define the roles and responsibilities within your team and outline your reporting cadence.

social business plan ideas

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Creating your own social media marketing strategy (video guide)

No time to read the whole article? Let Amanda, Hootsuite’s own Senior Manager of Social Media Marketing, guide you through our free social media marketing strategy template in less than 10 minutes:

How to create a social media marketing strategy in 9 steps

Step 1. choose goals that align to business objectives, set s.m.a.r.t. goals.

The first step to creating a winning social media strategy is to establish clear objectives and goals. Without goals, you have no way to measure success and return on investment (ROI) .

Each of your social media marketing goals should be SMART : s pecific, m easurable, a ttainable, r elevant and t ime-bound.

Psst: If you need examples of smart social media goals , we’ve got you covered.

Track meaningful metrics

Vanity metrics like number of followers and likes are easy to track, but it’s hard to prove their real value. Instead, focus on things like engagement, click-through, and conversion rates.

For inspiration, take a look at these 19 essential social media metrics .

You may want to track different goals for different social media networks, or even different uses for each network.

For example, if you use LinkedIn to drive traffic to your website, you would measure click-throughs. If Instagram is for brand awareness, you might track the number of Instagram Story views. And if you advertise on Facebook, cost-per-click (CPC) is a common success metric.

Social media goals should align with your overall marketing objectives. This makes it easier to show the value of your work and secure buy-in from your boss.

Screenshot of chart showing how social media goals should align to business objectives for an effective social media marketing strategy.

Start developing a successful social media marketing plan by writing down at least three goals for social media.

“ It’s easy to get overwhelmed by deciding what to post and which metrics to track, but you need to focus on what you want to get out of social media to begin with,” says Amanda Wood, Hootsuite’s Senior Manager of Social Marketing. “Don’t just start posting and tracking everything: match your goals to your business, and your metrics to your goals.”

Step 2. Learn everything you can about your audience

Get to know your fans, followers, and customers as real people with real wants and needs, and you will know how to target and engage them on social media.

When it comes to your ideal customer, you should know things like:

  • Average income
  • Typical job title or industry

Here’s a simple guide and template for creating audience/buyer personas .

Social media analytics can also provide a ton of valuable information about who your followers are, where they live, and how they interact with your brand on social media. These insights allow you to refine your strategy and better target your audience.

Jugnoo, an Uber-like service for auto-rickshaws in India, used Facebook Analytics to learn that 90% of their users who referred other customers were between 18- and 34-years-old, and 65% of that group was using Android. They used that information to target their ads, resulting in a 40% lower cost per referral.

Check out our guide to using social media analytics and the tools you need to track them .

Step 3. Get to know your competition

Odds are your competitors are already using social media, and that means you can learn from what they’re doing.

Conduct a competitive analysis

A competitive analysis allows you to understand who the competition is and what they’re doing well (and not so well). You’ll get a good sense of what’s expected in your industry, which will help you set social media targets of your own.

It will also help you spot opportunities.

Maybe one of your competitors is dominant on Facebook, for example, but has put little effort into Twitter or Instagram. You might want to focus on the social media platforms where your audience is underserved, rather than trying to win fans away from a dominant player.

Use social media listening

Social listening is another way to keep an eye on your competitors.

Do searches of the competition’s company name, account handles, and other relevant keywords on social media. Find out what they’re sharing and what other people are saying about them. If they’re using influencer marketing, how much engagement do those campaigns earn them?

Pro tip : Use Hootsuite Streams to monitor relevant keywords, hashtags and accounts in real-time.

Try Hootsuite for free. You can cancel anytime.

As you track, you may notice shifts in how your competitors and industry leaders are using social media. You may come across new, exciting trends. You might even spot specific social content or a campaign that really hits the mark—or totally bombs.

Use this kind of intel to optimize and inform your own social media marketing strategy.

Just don’t go overboard on the spy tactics, Amanda advises. “ Make sure you aren’t ALWAYS comparing yourself to the competition — it can be a distraction. I’d say checking in on a monthly basis is healthy. Otherwise, focus on your own strategy and results.”

Step 4. Do a social media audit

If you’re already using social media, take stock of your efforts so far. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s working, and what’s not?
  • Who is engaging with you?
  • What are your most valuable partnerships?
  • Which networks does your target audience use?
  • How does your social media presence compare to the competition?

Once you collect that information, you’ll be ready to start thinking about ways to improve.

We’ve created an easy-to-follow social media audit guide and template to walk you through each step of this process.

Screenshot of a social media audit spreadsheet for building an effective social media marketing strategy

Your audit should give you a clear picture of what purpose each of your social accounts serves. If the purpose of an account isn’t clear, think about whether it’s worth keeping.

To help you decide, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my audience here?
  • If so, how are they using this platform?
  • Can I use this account to help achieve my goals?

Asking these tough questions will keep your social media strategy focused.

Look for impostor accounts

During the audit, you may discover fake accounts using your business name or the names of your products.

These imposters can be harmful to your brand—never mind that they’re capturing followers that should be yours.

You may want to get your accounts verified too to ensure your fans know they are dealing with the real you.

Here’s how to get verified on:

Step 5. Set up accounts and improve profiles

Decide which networks to use.

As you decide which social networks to use, you will also need to define your strategy for each.

Benefit Cosmetics’ social media manager, Angela Purcaro, told eMarketer : “For our makeup tutorials … we’re all about Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Twitter, on the other hand, is designated for customer service.”

Hootsuite’s own social team even designates different purposes for formats within networks. On Instagram, for example, they use the feed to post high-quality educational infographics and product announcements and Stories to cover live events or quick social media updates.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Hootsuite 🦉 (@hootsuite)

Pro tip : Write out a mission statement for each network. A one-sentence declaration to keep you focused on a specific goal.

Example: “We will use Twitter for customer support to keep email and call volumes down.”

Or: “We will use LinkedIn for promoting and sharing our company culture to help with recruitment and employee advocacy.”

One more: “We will use Instagram to highlight new products and repost quality content from influencers.”

If you can’t create a solid mission statement for a particular social media channel, you may want to ask yourself if it’s worth it.

Note : While larger businesses can and do tackle every platform, small businesses may not be able to — and that’s ok! Prioritize social platforms that will have the most impact on your business and make sure your marketing team has the resources to handle content for those networks. If you need help focusing your efforts, check out our 18-minute social media plan .

Set up your profiles

Once you’ve decided which networks to focus on, it’s time to create your profiles. Or improve existing ones so they align with your strategy.

  • Make sure you fill out all profile fields
  • Include keywords people would use to search for your business
  • Use consistent branding (logos, images, etc.) across networks so your profiles are easily recognizable

Pro tip : Use high-quality images that follow the recommended dimensions for each network. Check out our always-up-to-date social media image size cheat sheet for quick reference.

We’ve also got step-by-step guides for each network to walk you through the process:

  • Create a Facebook business page
  • Create an Instagram business account
  • Create a TikTok account
  • Create a Twitter business account
  • Create a Snapchat account
  • Create a LinkedIn Company Page
  • Create a Pinterest business account
  • Create a YouTube channel

Don’t let this list overwhelm you. Remember, it’s better to use fewer channels well than to stretch yourself thin trying to maintain a presence on every network.

Step 6. Find inspiration

While it’s important that your brand be unique, you can still draw inspiration from other businesses that are great on social.

“ I consider it my job to stay active on social: to know what’s trending, which campaigns are winning, what’s new with the platforms, who’s going above and beyond,” says Amanda. “This might be the most fun step for you, or the hardest one, but it’s just as crucial as the rest of them.”

Social media success stories

You can usually find these on the business section of the social network’s website. ( Here’s Facebook’s , for example.)

Case studies can offer valuable insights that you can apply to your own social media plan.

Award-winning accounts and campaigns

You could also check out the winners of The Facebook Awards or The Shorty Awards for examples of brands that are at the top of their social media game.

For learning and a laugh, check out Fridge-Worthy, Hootsuite’s bi-weekly awards show highlighting brands doing smart and clever things on social media.

Your favorite brands on social media

Who do you enjoy following on social media? What do they do that compels people to engage and share their content?

National Geographic, for example, is one of the best on Instagram, combining stunning visuals with compelling captions.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo)

Then there’s Shopify. The ecommerce brand uses Facebook to sell themselves by showcasing customer stories and case studies.

And Lush Cosmetics is a great example of superior customer service on Twitter. They use their 280 characters to answer questions and solve problems in an extremely charming and on-brand way.

Hey lovely! 💕 We are sorry to hear how much you are missing Scrub Scrub Scrub. We will make sure our team knows you'd love to see it back on the shelves. In the meantime, check out Magic Crystals for a similar scrubtastic feel 😍💜 — Lush North America (@lushcosmetics) October 15, 2021

Notice that each of these accounts has a consistent voice, tone, and style. That’s key to letting people know what to expect from your feed. That is, why should they follow you? What’s in it for them?

Consistency also helps keep your content on-brand even if you have multiple people on your social media team.

For more on this, read our guide on establishing a compelling brand voice on social media .

Ask your followers

Consumers can also offer social media inspiration.

What are your target customers talking about online? What can you learn about their wants and needs?

If you have existing social channels, you could also ask your followers what they want from you. Just make sure that you follow through and deliver what they ask for.

Step 7. Create a social media content calendar

Sharing great content is essential, of course, but it’s equally important to have a plan in place for when you’ll share content to get the maximum impact.

Your social media content calendar also needs to account for the time you spend interacting with the audience (although you need to allow for some spontaneous engagement as well).

Set your posting schedule

Your social media content calendar lists the dates and times at which you will publish types of content on each channel. It’s the perfect place to plan all of your social media activities—from images, link sharing, and re-shares of user-generated content to blog posts and videos. It includes both your day-to-day posting and content for social media campaigns.

Your calendar also ensures your posts are spaced out appropriately and published at the best times to post .

Pro tip: You can plan your whole content calendar and get recommended best times to post on every network based on your past engagement rate, impressions, or link click data in Hootsuite.

Hootsuite Analytics best time to publish

Determine the right content mix

Make sure your content strategy and calendar reflect the mission statement you’ve assigned to each social profile, so that everything you post is working to support your business goals.

(We know, it’s tempting to jump on every meme, but there should always be a strategy behind your social media marketing efforts!)

You might decide that:

  • 50% of content will drive traffic back to your website
  • 25% of content will be curated from other sources
  • 20% of content will support lead-generation goals (newsletter sign-ups, ebook downloads, etc.)
  • 5% of content will be about your company culture

Placing these different post types in your content calendar will ensure you maintain the right mix.

If you’re starting from scratch and you’re not sure what types of content to post, try the 80-20 rule :

  • 80% of your posts should inform, educate, or entertain your audience
  • 20% can directly promote your brand.

The 80-20 rule of social media publishing

You could also try the social media content marketing rule of thirds :

  • One-third of your content promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit.
  • One-third of your content shares ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.
  • One-third of your content is personal interactions with your audience

The social media marketing rule of thirds

Don’t post too much or too little

If you’re starting a social media marketing strategy from scratch, you may not have figured out how often to post to each network for maximum engagement yet.

Post too frequently and you risk annoying your audience. But, if you post too little, you risk looking like you’re not worth following.

Start with these posting frequency recommendations:

  • Instagram (feed): 3-7 times per week
  • Facebook: 1-2 times per day
  • Twitter: 1-5 times per day
  • LinkedIn: 1-5 times per day

How often to publish on social media by each platform

Pro tip : Once you have your social media content calendar planned out, use a scheduling tool to prepare messages in advance rather than updating constantly throughout the day.

We might be biased, but we think Hootsuite is the best social media management tool. You can schedule social media posts to every network and the intuitive calendar view gives you a full picture of all your social activity each week.

Try It Free

Step 8. Create compelling content

Remember those mission statements you created for each channel in Step 5? Well, it’s time to go a bit deeper, a.k.a. provide some examples of the type of content you’ll post to fulfill your mission on each network.

If you’re not sure what to post, here’s a long list of social media content ideas to get you started.

The idea here is to:

  • Keep your content aligned with the purpose of each network;
  • Show other stakeholders (if applicable) what kind of content they can expect to see on each network.

This last point especially will help you avoid any tension when your colleagues want to know why you haven’t posted their case study/whitepaper/blog post to TikTok yet. It’s not in the strategy, Linda!

Ideally, you will generate content types that are both suited to the network and the purpose you’ve set out for that network.

For example, you wouldn’t want to waste time posting brand awareness tweets if you’ve designated Twitter for primarily customer support. And you wouldn’t want to post super polished corporate video ads to TikTok, as users expect to see short, unpolished videos on that platform.

It might take some testing over time to figure out which type of content works best on which type of network, so prepare to update this section frequently.

We won’t lie: content creation isn’t as easy as everyone not on the social team seems to think. But if you’re struggling, Amanda suggests going back to basics.

The first question to ask is: is there cohesion between your content types? Is your content providing value? Do you have a good mix of entertaining, or educational content? What does it offer that makes a person stop and spend time? Creating a few different content pillars or categories that encompass different aspects of storytelling for your brand, and what you can offer your audience is a good start.

This brings us to Step 9.

Step 9. Track performance and make adjustments

Your social media marketing strategy is a hugely important document for your business, and you can’t assume you’ll get it exactly right on the first try. As you start to implement your plan and track your results, you may find that some strategies don’t work as well as you’d anticipated, while others are working even better than expected.

Look at performance metrics

In addition to the analytics within each social network (see Step 2), you can use UTM parameters to track social visitors as they move through your website, so you can see exactly which social posts drive the most traffic to your website.

Re-evaluate, test, and do it all again

Once this data starts coming in, use it to re-evaluate your strategy regularly. You can also use this information to test different posts, social marketing campaigns, and strategies against one another. Constant testing allows you to understand what works and what doesn’t, so you can refine your social media marketing strategy in real time.

You’ll want to check the performance of all your channels at least once a week and get to know the basics of social media reporting so you can track your growth over time.

Pro tip: If you use Hootsuite, you can review the performance of all your posts on every network in one place. Once you get the hang of checking your analytics, you may even want to customize different reports to show specific metrics over a variety of different time periods.

Surveys can also be a great way to find out how well your social media strategy is working. Ask your followers, email list, and website visitors whether you’re meeting their needs and expectations, and what they’d like to see more of. Then make sure to deliver on what they tell you.

Finalizing your social media strategy

Spoiler alert: nothing is final.

Social media moves fast. New networks emerge, others go through demographic shifts.

Your business will go through periods of change as well.

All of this means that your social media marketing strategy should be a living document that you review and adjust as needed. Refer to it often to stay on track, but don’t be afraid to make changes so that it better reflects new goals, tools, or plans.

When you update your social strategy, make sure to watch our 5-step video on how to updating your social media strategy for 2023:

Social media strategy template

What’s next? When you’re ready to put your plan into action, we’re here to help…

Save time managing your social media marketing strategy with Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can easily:

  • Plan, create, and schedule posts to every network
  • Track relevant keywords, topics, and accounts
  • Stay on top of engagement with a universal inbox
  • Get easy-to-understand performance reports and improve your strategy as needed

Try Hootsuite for Free

With files from Shannon Tien .

Do it better with Hootsuite , the all-in-one social media tool. Stay on top of things, grow, and beat the competition.

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How to Create a Social Media Strategy for Small Businesses

For a small business, having a social media strategy is essential for increasing brand awareness, reaching your target audience, and driving sales.

With a strong social media strategy, you’ll never run out of ideas on what to post — and you’ll soon have an engaged community at your fingertips.

What is a Social Media Strategy for Small Business?

A social media strategy encapsulates everything you want to do and achieve on social media. It details what you’ll post, the platforms you’ll use, and defines measurable goals that will support your specific business needs.

Smart social media strategies for small businesses can increase brand awareness, build your audience, and increase revenue.

However, this growth won’t happen overnight. It requires a consistent and strategic approach.

Take a look at chai cafe Kolkata Chai Co. — they regularly post across multiple platforms and have built a thriving community as a result.

Their social media typically features 3 types of content: recipes, product photography, and videos.

social business plan ideas

Their recipe posts are informative and inspirational, while their product images are directly promotional. Their video content showcases artists from the Indian community — providing insight into Kolkata Chai Co.’s brand values.

All of this content works together to build brand awareness and drive sales, creating a cohesive social media strategy across platforms.

Ready to create your social media strategy for 2022? Social Media expert Steph Gilbert shares her top tips in this step-by-step video :

How to Create a Social Media Strategy for Small Businesses:

Define Your Social Media Strategy

Identify the Right Social Media Platforms

Define Your Brand Voice

Create and Manage Your Posts

Track and Measure Your Goals

Part #1: Define Your Social Media Strategy — and Set Your Goals

Creating a social media strategy from scratch may seem intimidating, but setting SMART goals keeps the process realistic and achievable.

A SMART goal is:

Apply this method to your social media marketing plan by basing the goals on metrics that are specific to your business.

For example, you might want to track how many people follow your social media account month over month.

If this is your first time creating a social media strategy , it’s a good idea to start with a handful of important goals — so you can really hone in on them.

This way, you’ll be able to track progress over time and use them as a baseline to build upon in the future.

Want to learn how to set goals (and actually achieve them?) Watch Later’s free goal setting workshop which will help you make those social goals a reality!

Part #2: Identify the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

Every social media platform has a unique set of pros and cons — which means you can be selective with your approach.

Starting off with platforms that make the most sense for your business will help you save time and avoid becoming overwhelmed by your content calendar.

Not sure which platform is best for your business? Here’s a basic rundown:

As a visual platform, Instagram is the perfect platform for showcasing your products or services in action. It’s also a great place to grow a community who loves your brand.

Plus, Instagram now has a ton of e-commerce features — making it easier than ever to convert your followers into customers.

social business plan ideas

Instagram is also known for its huge community of social media influencers . Partnering with creators or influencers to create sponsored posts can be a great way to reach relevant audiences and potential new customers.

In addition to sponsored posts, Instagram can also be an awesome platform for finding organic user-generated content (UGC)  about your products or services.

social business plan ideas

Sharing UGC is a great way to show your products in action, and can act as a valuable third-party recommendation for your brand.

Improve your content workflow with Later ’s user-generated content tools — source, schedule and repost UGC to your feed in minutes!

Facebook, the most widely-used social media site, is an all-purpose platform where you can share photos, company updates and information, videos, and other informative content to build brand awareness and trust.

Much like Instagram, Facebook is jam-packed with e-commerce features — and has some of the most sophisticated targeted advertizing tools in the business.

social business plan ideas

Facebook also sets itself apart with its advanced suite of community forum features — such as Facebook Groups , Messenger Rooms , and Live Events .

Plus, Facebook’s powerful analytic tools are great for helping you learn more about your followers and keeping you on track with your SMART goals.

Looking to level-up your Facebook strategy? Plan, schedule, and post to Facebook with Later — for free!

Twitter is a platform for short messages and shareable media, making it ideal for company announcements, articles or blog posts, and customer support.

Twitter is great for connecting quickly in real time, which also makes it the top choice for companies with plenty of news updates and resources to share.

For example, beverage brand innocent drinks frequently uses Twitter to communicate with their customers and answer questions:

social business plan ideas

If you think TikTok is just for teenagers, think again.

TikTok is a video-driven platform full of informative, entertaining, and creative content — and businesses are using the platform to show how their products work, share behind-the-scenes, give tips, and join trending challenges.

Here, Lucume uses the platform to promote a collection of their clay earrings:

TikTok’s younger audience is great for businesses marketing to Gen Z , but the TikTok demographic is shifting — with more millennials joining the mix than ever before.

Plan and schedule your TikTok videos in advance — right from your desktop or phone! Upgrade to one of Later’s paid plans to get started.

Unlike most social platforms, YouTube allows you to share longer form videos, with a huge maximum upload file size of 128GB (or 12 hours!).

This makes it the perfect platform for more in-depth, educational content — such as styling tips, interviews, tutorials, and transformations.

For example, Later uses YouTube to share social media tips, strategies, how-to videos, courses, and conference sessions:

YouTube typically requires more time and energy than other platforms, but it can yield huge results. YouTube is primarily a search engine, which means users who search for and discover your content are more likely to have a strong interest in the topic and a genuine intent to engage.

Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about creating a YouTube channel here .

As a visual discovery platform, Pinterest is perfect for reaching new, relevant audiences. Plus, the whole experience is fully clickable, making it easy to turn browsers into customers .

social business plan ideas

On Pinterest, users “pin” photos that link to resources, product pages, and content across the web. Pins are typically visually appealing, and the links generally direct to blog posts or product pages.

Pinterest is a great platform for driving traffic to your site, and brands can create “boards” full of curated pins — making it easy for your audience to find related pins all at once.

As a Pinterest Partner, Later offers exclusive features to help you grow your business on Pinterest. Start planning and scheduling your Pins with Later now!

LinkedIn is a great platform for building your network, raising brand awareness, and attracting new talent to join your business.

Similar to Twitter, many brands use LinkedIn to share company updates, news releases, media coverage, articles, or blog posts.

Plus, with more than 722 million users worldwide and a ton of new engagement-driving features , it’s a platform to consider creating a strategy for.

Now that you know what each platform offers, choose the ones most relevant to your business. Don’t be afraid to start with only 1 or 2 — it’s better to focus your energy where it will be most effective.

DID YOU KNOW: You can now plan and schedule your content for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and TikTok with Later — all from one easy-to-use dashboard!

Part #3: Define Your Brand Voice

Your brand voice is like your company’s personality — it’s how you speak to your audience. And it might slightly differ from platform to platform.

Take The Washington Post for example. On TikTok they use comedy to create funny and informative videos. On Twitter , they share the highlights of an article without any fluff:

social business plan ideas

If you’re struggling to pinpoint your tone, consider your brand’s values and mission. Are you formal and serious, or more relatable and friendly?

One brand doing this well is Pur Home , a line of natural cleaning products with an eco-friendly mission.

They channel their values into their brand’s tone with a friendly voice and sustainability-focused content:

TIP: Consider how would you talk about your business, products, or services to a friend as you refine your brand’s tone of voice!

Part #4: Create and Manage Your Social Media Posts

After you define your goals, choose the platforms you’ll use, and develop your brand voice, it’s time to start creating and posting content.

As a busy small business owner, a helpful way to avoid becoming overwhelmed when creating content is to practice content batching .

It’s a helpful productivity technique where you create multiple captions, photos, and videos during a set period of time.

And when you want to schedule content, using Later’s social media scheduling tool will help you save time and always share content at your best time to post .

With Later, you can upload photos in batches, find amazing UGC, schedule content weeks in advance, and more.

And with features like Best Time to Post and a free AI caption writer — your content calendar will be strategic, consistent, and cohesive.

#5: Track and Measure Your Social Media Goals

Now that you’ve nailed your content strategy, well done! You’ve done the hardest part.

But don’t forget, the key to a successful social media strategy for small business is consistency.

Monitoring your analytics to see how many people you’re reaching and how they’re interacting with your posts is vital to your strategy as they show you what’s working — and what isn’t.

Luckily, Later Analytics makes it easy to track insights you can use to inform your content strategy — whether it’s increasing engagement or growing your audience.

There you have it — a quick how-to guide for creating a social media strategy for small business.

Take the time to develop SMART goals, define your brand voice, and choose platforms that align with what you’re trying to achieve.

And if you create consistent content and analyze your metrics, you’ll be one step closer to creating a successful long-term strategy.

Ready to simplify your social media strategy for small business? With Later , you can plan, schedule, and monitor your posts all in one place!

Martha Kendall

Martha Kendall is a freelance B2B SaaS writer who loves creating strategic blog posts that drive traffic and convert. When she’s not writing, you can find her snuggling with her fluffy cats and reading books. Find her on Instagram – @marthakendallwrites .

Plan, schedule, and automatically publish your social media posts with Later.

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Christmas Day in a London care home

‘Many care homes wouldn’t be here without foreign workers:’ fears over Tories’ plans to limit immigration

Proposed policies restricting numbers and rights of foreign health workers create alarm among care home operators

Read more: Curbs on migrant workers would be ‘dangerous’ for social care, warns government adviser

For years, Mike Padgham just couldn’t get the staff. When he would post job ads for vacancies at his five care homes in Yorkshire, he’d get very few responses.

But early last year, the government opened a new immigration route, expanding the health worker visa scheme to include care workers. Since then, Padgham’s company, St Cecilia’s Care Group, has hired 32 overseas staff members – mostly from India, Ghana and Zimbabwe.

It’s not a “cheap fix”, Padgham says: the company covers the costs of recruitment, and when they arrive, the staff are paid the same as their UK colleagues.

Mike Padgham, with short hair and wearing a Nehru-collar shirt under a blazer, smiles

But without the overseas recruits, he believes at least two of his care homes, unable to meet minimum safe staffing levels, would have faced being forced to close.

“It’s a lifeline at the minute,” he says. “Many providers wouldn’t be here today if these staff from overseas weren’t there.”

The story of St Cecilia’s is repeated across the country. Nationally, more than 123,500 people have arrived to work as care workers and senior care workers since the route was opened.

But last week, Padgham, who has worked in the sector for 34 years, saw headlines that left him fearing for the future.

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick has drawn up plans to restrict foreign health and care workers to bringing one relative each to the UK. Some reports suggest the Home Office could ban them from bringing dependants altogether. Other plans being considered include a cap on the number of NHS and social care workers hired from abroad, and changes to the minimum salary overseas workers must be paid.

The proposed policy changes, drawn up under ex-home secretary Suella Braverman, have not been confirmed. But they are being pushed by Jenrick in response to high net migration figures – a record 745,000 in 2022 – which prime minister Rishi Sunak is under pressure to bring down.

Padgham believes a cap on care worker numbers, or a restriction on dependants, would spell disaster. “If that option isn’t available, it will put people off,” Padgham says. “How can you go to another country, work for someone and leave your family around the other side of the world? It’s a big ask. It’s a big deterrent.”

Changes to minimum salary thresholds would be a “double whammy”, he says. St Cecilia’s and other care providers rely on cash from councils, whose budgets – determined by central government funding – are already tight. Currently overseas care workers must be paid at least £20,960 a year. Increasing this – without significant extra investment in social care from the government – would make the cost of hiring from abroad unsustainable, Padgham says.

He is not alone in his fear. This weekend, the government’s adviser on immigration warned that while the proposed policy changes might reduce headline migration figures, they could devastate social care.

Brian Bell, in a cotton shirt slightly wrinkled towards the waist, stands near a sunny window, smiling

Professor Brian Bell, chair of the government’s Migration Advisory Committee, told the Observer that implementing policies to reduce migration without addressing workforce problems in social care could “massively harm” the sector. “Until that missing piece is solved, I personally would say it’s very dangerous to be playing around with the numbers on the social care route,” he said.

Professor Martin Green CBE, chief executive of Care England, said such changes could force some providers out of business. “If the government places a cap, refuses to allow dependants into the country or changes the pay requirements for overseas staff, which will make them more expensive, this will lead to more care services struggling to get staff and potentially reducing the amount of care they are able to provide,” he said. “In some cases [it] may lead them to exit the market.”

Talk of limiting dependants comes amid heavy pressure from the right wing of the Conservative party to reduce net migration. The Tories have repeatedly promised to bring the figure down to the “tens of thousands”. Targeting health and care workers is an obvious choice: they are by far the biggest users of the skilled worker visa route, with 143,990 arriving via the health and care visa last year, along with 173,896 dependants.

It is possible that changes to rules on dependants might not have the devastating impact on hiring that some fear. It’s not yet clear whether any restrictions would apply only to care workers or to other health workers too. But Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “I think it is quite likely in the case of care workers that there are enough people around the world who are willing and interested in those jobs that the UK will still be able to recruit care workers.” If the same rules were to apply to people higher up the skill spectrum, such as doctors, things could become more difficult, she said.

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Beyond the practical impacts on the health and social care sector, the policy proposals have been attacked over the potential ramifications for individual families.

Mictin Ponmala, 38, a nurse originally from India who would have been affected by limits on dependants.

Unison, the union, said the policies “demonised” migrant workers while Migrants’ Rights Network said: “Separating families for the sake of arbitrary figures is cruel.” The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants argued that restrictions on dependants would “rip families apart” and “make people’s lives worse”. “Low-paid migrant workers are being treated as disposable economic commodities,” Caitlin Boswell, policy and advocacy manager, said.

Mictin Ponmala, 38, a health worker from India who lives in Luton, might never have come had restrictions on dependants been in place.

For him and many of his international colleagues in health and social care, “the only reason” they picked the UK was the fact that core family members were allowed too, he says. Pay rates are better in the Middle East and Australia, where numbers of migrant health and care workers are also high. But family restrictions there are stricter.

“Not allowing dependants will have a negative impact. People will think about leaving the UK, and some people won’t come,” says Ponmala, who works as a nurse in the NHS. Three months after he arrived in the UK, his wife, who also works in healthcare, followed. They have since had a son.

“It’s not a matter of money. It’s life,” he says. “Preventing families from reuniting is a denial of human rights.”

The Home Office declined to comment on the plans or the concerns. The Department of Health also declined to comment. The government is expected to announce migration measures in the coming weeks.

Padgham appealed for ministers to ditch any plans to target health and social care. He understands the “political pressure” to reduce migration but said: “You can’t cut off the supply and still underfund social care and expect things to work.

“Do they want waiting lists to be longer? Care providers to go out of business? People not to get the care they need? That’s the result of the policies they’re discussing.”

  • Immigration and asylum
  • The Observer
  • Care workers
  • Conservatives
  • Social care
  • Home Office

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We No Longer Need a Big Carrier’s Wireless Plan. Discount Ones Are the Way.

We are overpaying for phone plans from Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. Budget wireless services, similarly fast and robust, can save thousands.

In a colorful, collage-like illustration, a yellow cellphone on the left is held by two hands, and a head in the foreground on the right is viewed from a rear angle.

By Brian X. Chen

Before becoming the personal tech columnist for The Times, Brian X. Chen was a beat reporter covering phone carriers.

Americans have long been conditioned to believe that when they buy a cellphone, the next step is to pick a wireless plan from one of the big carriers: Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile. With their plans ranging from $60 to $200 a month for individuals and families, the price of a phone is soon eclipsed by the recurring service bills .

What if I told you that it no longer had to be this way?

Your phone bill could shrink to as little as $25 a month if you picked a wireless plan from a lesser-known service provider known as a discount carrier. The cheaper plans, based on my tests, offer sufficiently fast internet speeds and reliable phone service. It takes some courage and technological know-how to make the switch, but the potential savings outweigh the downsides.

On the surface, these budget carriers, which include Cricket Wireless , Straight Talk , Boost Mobile , Mint Mobile and Visible , lack a cool factor. They do not operate their own cell networks; instead, they lease wireless services from the big carriers and market them toward retirees. The no-frill plans often have trade-offs, including slower download speeds, since Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers have priority access to faster network performance.

Yet in the past few years, so much has changed that I can now confidently recommend discount phone plans for most people, including white-collar professionals and Instagram-obsessed youths. Here’s why:

Cellular networks have peaked. Newer 5G and 4G cell technology is so fast that even budget carriers can provide very fast download speeds — zippy enough to stream video, load maps and download apps — even if they are somewhat slower than what the Big Three provide.

The shift to hybrid work. Office workers who used to spend more time commuting and had to rely on their cellular network now have their commute time cut in half and are relying more on the Wi-Fi connection at their home or office cubicle for making video calls and sending messages. That means slower cellular performance on a budget carrier may be unnoticeable.

You can try a discount carrier without breaking up with your big carrier. The eSIM, the digital version of the SIM card that carries your phone number, is now common on many modern smartphones. It lets you immediately activate an extra phone line without needing to insert a physical SIM card, which makes experimenting with an off-brand wireless service easier and less intimidating.

Once you have converted to a discount phone plan, the savings add up quickly. A family of four buying new iPhones with a Cricket phone plan would spend $3,762 over two years, $1,311 less than they would spend with Verizon, according to an analysis by WalletHub, a personal finance research firm .

“The negative perception around budget plans is fading,” Cassandra Happe, an analyst for WalletHub, said. “Now they’re seen as a smart choice for everyone. People are realizing you can get a great phone plan without spending a fortune.”

To put discount phone carriers to the test, I activated three services — Visible, Cricket and Straight Talk — on an iPhone. In various locations in California, I ran speed tests, made phone calls and used apps like maps, YouTube and TikTok. For comparisons, I ran the same tests on my Verizon connection.

The discount carriers were, on average, up to 46 percent slower than my Verizon connection. That sounds like a lot, but in real-world tests, I didn’t notice a difference — my apps worked fine, and videos streamed smoothly.

Here’s how the setup and testing process went.

Buying and activating a discount phone plan

Consumers can sign up for discount phone plans by buying a physical SIM card from a website or retail store, though I recommend eSIM as the way. The digital SIM card saves time — and because you can install multiple eSIMs at the same time, you can try a discount carrier and compare it with the performance of your big carrier before deciding on a plan.

The steps for setting up an eSIM vary somewhat from carrier to carrier, but the process is fundamentally consistent: You buy a phone plan through a brand’s website or app and click a button or scan a bar code to activate the service.

Visible charged $25 a month for a plan that included unlimited data; Straight Talk charged $35 a month for a plan with 10 gigabytes of high-speed internet; and Cricket charged $40 — $10 to activate the eSIM and $30 for a monthly plan that included five gigabytes of data.

Visible, which is owned by Verizon, had the smoothest setup. Its mobile app let me buy a phone plan using Apple Pay and tap a few buttons to activate service. With Straight Talk and Cricket, I perused the websites to find their eSIM offerings. I ran into problems with Cricket, which emailed a broken web link to activate my plan; it took me about 20 minutes to find a tool on its website to manually activate my service.

My iPhone could hold up to eight eSIMs, so I installed all three plans and toggled among them for each test.

I drove to 10 locations, including hiking trails, shopping centers and wineries, in California. At each location, I used the Speedtest app to test each carrier’s internet speed, and I called my very patient wife and streamed video on apps like TikTok and YouTube.

Broadly speaking, the discount phone services performed fine. They were occasionally sluggish when loading videos on TikTok, but my Verizon connection had similar delays.

Based on the results measured with the Speedtest app, Cricket and Visible had comparable performances, with download speeds of 154 megabits per second, on average. Straight Talk delivered speeds of 279 megabits per second — similar to my Verizon connection, which delivered download speeds of 287 megabits per second.

What do those numbers mean? To stream video through apps like Netflix and Hulu, you need a minimum of 25 megabits per second, according to AT&T. So the budget carriers gave me more than enough speed to handle some of the most data-intensive tasks.

Taking the leap

Among the three discount carriers, my favorite was Visible because of its smooth setup process and consistent network performance. Visible was also more transparent with its billing in emailed receipts. Straight Talk never emailed me a receipt. I was turned off by Cricket’s clunky website and the $10 fee for activating an eSIM, which was not a charge the other two carriers required.

Angie Klein, president of the Verizon Value organization, which oversees Visible, said its budget plans were designed for tech-savvy customers who wanted a single line, and Verizon’s traditional wireless plans were a full-service experience with more perks. Straight Talk and Cricket did not respond to requests for comment.

On the whole, I don’t have a one-size-fits-all recommendation. As with the big carriers, cellular performance for each discount carrier will vary depending on the network’s coverage where you live and work.

But because eSIM technology makes it easy to switch to another network — and the discount phone plans are cheap — it would be foolish to pass on the opportunity to give a budget phone plan a try.

Last year, Robin Phillips, a 54-year-old Seattle resident who works in food distribution, broke up with Verizon to try Visible. He ran into hiccups. The wireless service initially would not activate, and the customer support agents, available only through a chat app, were unhelpful.

But he said he didn’t regret the switch. Visible’s service began working after a day, and he pays $25 a month, down from the $70 that he used to pay for a Verizon plan. His wife also converted.

“Is it worth it?” he said. “We’re saving about $1,000 a year. I’ll deal with the hassle for that.”

Brian X. Chen is the lead consumer technology writer for The Times. He reviews products and writes Tech Fix , a column about the social implications of the tech we use. More about Brian X. Chen

Tech Fix: Solving Your Tech Problems

Brian x. chen, our lead consumer technology writer, looks at the societal implications of the tech we use..

‘Free’ iPhone Promotions:  The so-called iPhone giveaways marketed by Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T can make customers spend more on perks they don’t need .

Google’s Pixel 8:  The smartphone lets you use A.I. to add or remove elements from your images. It’s not clear we really need this .

Meta’s Quest 3:  The headset lets people see the outside world while immersed in virtual reality. The benefits are to be determined .

‘What Did He Just Say?’:  Dialogue on streaming platforms is rarely crisp and clear because of myriad factors at play. Here are some ways to improve your experience .

Venmo:  The mobile wallet service is a cautionary tale of how apps may be exposing more information than you would like. Here is how to protect your data .

Weather Tech: If you live in an area that’s prone to extreme weather events, it helps to be ready. These apps and tools can help .


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