Steps to setting up a social enterprise


Chris Wykes Driver, VAL’s Development Support Officer specialising in governance, finance and social enterprise support, provides a tried and tested approach to setting up a social enterprise or trading arm


For those of you who are you thinking of setting up a social enterprise I know that the start of the process can be very confusing and it often feels as if you are going round in circles. There’s a lot to consider, but it needn’t be overwhelming. Save time and energy by following a proven method for designing your enterprise.

1. Take your time

Rather than trying to squeeze your vision into a particular legal structure you would be well advised to take the time to work out what you are trying to achieve and how.

2. Work out the numbers

This will lead on to the pivotal issue of how you intend to fund your venture. How much income can you raise from sales of services or products? To what extent are your plans compatible with the funding priorities of grant funders? What would be a realistic funding mix for your start-up?

3. Put yourself in the picture

You also need to be clear about where you as an individual fit into all this.  Are you hoping to earn a living from the business? Or is this something you are doing alongside or within your existing employment? Who else will be involved in delivering or managing what you do?

4. Be clear about who’s in charge

This will draw you in to governance considerations for the venture that you need to clarify before moving too far ahead with the operational side of things.

5. Find the right legal structure

Answering these key questions will help steer you towards an organisational design and legal structure that are right for your unique enterprise – and save you time, money and energy in the long run.


For advice and support around setting up a social enterprise contact Chris Wykes Driver on