Starting Up: Social Mission and Impact

Do you have an idea about how to create a positive change in your community? Could your idea become a social enterprise? In this blog series, we will talk about the most important things to think about if you want to start a social enterprise.

Social Mission and Impact 

As a social entrepreneur your aim is to use business as a tool to make a positive social, or environmental, change. Whilst developing your social enterprise idea and coming up with your business plan, it is important to consider what your social mission is, and how you will measure your social impact.    

So, what is a social mission?  

Your social mission is the change you as a social entrepreneur are trying to make.  

Your mission statement describes the reason your business exists. It’s what drives your organisation forward and determines your success.

Anna, Just Enterprise business advisor

For example, if your social enterprise idea is to start a family centre in your local area. Your social mission could be to improve the lives of the children who use the centre through improving the parenting skills of parents, increasing children’s self-esteem, and helping parents support each other.  

It is important to have a clear social mission because it explains your purpose. This will be central in your start up journey, as it will guide the decisions you make. You will want to be able to describe your social mission to your customers, service users, and any funders or investors, so that they can easily grasp what it is that you are trying to do.  

How do I develop my social mission?  

If you have an idea but you’re not exactly sure what your social mission is, have a think about the problem, and what you think the solution is. How do you see your social enterprise making a difference? Who or what are you trying to help?    

What is social impact?  

So, you have your social mission down. You know what you are trying to change, but how will you know if your efforts are working? If your social enterprise can generate profit that is a big success! But, to understand if you are really making a difference, you need to be able to measure your impact. Social mission and social impact are connected because your impact is the evidence that you are achieving your mission. 

To keep it simple when thinking about measuring impact, Anna recommends using the three P’s: people, planet, and profit. This is a great way of reminding yourself to think about social, environmental, and financial factors.  

When developing your idea it’s important to keep social impact in mind, because some things will be harder to measure than others. If, for example, your mission is to reduce food waste and provide meals to families experiencing food poverty, you will be able to measure how much food you are saving from going in the bin, and the number of meals you are handing out. It is clear to see the impact you are making in people’s lives, for the planet, and the profit you are making. But, if your social mission is to improve mental health, this is a bit harder to quantify and will require more thought about how to measure impact. So, from the beginning, it is important to think about how you are going to ensure that you can see if you are making an impact or not.  

A common misconception is that measuring social impact is only important for funding applications. But, as a social entrepreneur, it is important that you know what impact you are creating because this will tell you if you are achieving your social mission. And, above all, your social mission is the reason why you are embarking on this journey!   

Find out about other social enterprise’s missions in our Case Studies. And, to learn more about how you can measure your enterprise’s social impact, check out the Social Impact resources in our Resources Hub.  

If you found this blog post helpful, stick around to learn more from our Starting Up Series.  

Check out the workshops and webinars we run to learn more about how to start a social enterprise: Just Enterprise Learning Calendar.  

Or sign up to get advice and support from a Just Enterprise business advisor: one-to-one support.