Start a social enterprise

Checklist: starting a social enterprise


Before setting up a social enterprise, you might want to ask yourself the following questions to see if you are ready and whether a social enterprise is right for you:

  • Have you considered what legal form your social enterprise is going to take? Options include unincorporated associations, trusts, limited companies, industrial and provident societies, Community Interest Companies and charitable incorporated organisations. For more information about social enterprise legal structures see choose the right structure for your social enterprise.
  • Have you explored all the start-up support options available to you and your social enterprise? See support for social enterprises in Northern Ireland.
  • Are you completely committed to the social and/or environmental aims of the company?
  • Have you considered other key regulations that might affect your business - eg if working with vulnerable people, children and the elderly? GOV.UK has a Licence Finder tool which you can use to find out if you need a licence for your business activities.
  • Have you thought about how you will finance the social enterprise, both at start-up and during periods of growth? If you are using your own money, will you be able to survive while the business finds its feet? See find and manage the money.
  • Do you have a viable business idea - ie is there a market for your service or product? Read about how to research and develop your business ideas, new products and services.
  • Have you considered how you will research your customers, or engage with your stakeholders? See develop a sales and marketing strategy.
  • Will you require the services of professionals such as an accountant or solicitor? For further information about working with professionals see use professional services.
  • Will you need to employ staff in your social enterprise and do you the requirements of becoming an employer? Find out more about how to become an employer for the first time.