The Social Side of Business Planning

Being a nonprofit business doesn’t mean that your operation doesn’t need to generate revenue or monitor its spending. Like any other company, nonprofits can benefit from a well-crafted business plan.

Looking to offer specialized help, Palo Alto Software yesterday announced Business Plan Pro, Social Enterprise Edition. If you’re not familiar with the phrase social enterprise, it’s a non-profit organization that develops income-generating ventures to support a charitable mission.

While Business Plan Pro has supported nonprofit organizations, support for social enterprises is different, according to Tim Berry, president and CEO of Palo Alto Software. “It’s a subset of nonprofits, ones that are looking to make money.” Public Broadcasting Systems (PBS) television stations are good example of a social enterprise, Berry said, because they generate revenue through their auctions.

Palo Alto Software worked with the Social Enterprise Alliance to develop the new product, Berry said. The goal of the alliance is to mobilize communities of nonprofit organizations and funders to advance earned-income strategies. Palo Alto Software reports that Social Enterprise Alliance enlisted its help in creating the business plan software to support charitable missions. “The Social Enterprise Alliance is definitely a co-author. We opened up the application for them.”

The new edition is designed to produce a social enterprise plan that includes market analysis, strategy and implementation description, social return on investment, sales forecasting, personnel planning and financial statements.

Tha software’s Plan Review feature is designed to double-check all numbers to ensure an error-free business plan and determine areas for improvement. It also, according to the company, checks to see that realistic growth rates, a solid break-even analysis and manageable cash flow projections are in place.

“Business planning for nonprofits is as essential for success as it is for any business,” said Beth Bubis, Social Enterprise Alliance president and CEO. “We’ve already seen from our members that not only does this resource aid them in their business planning, it can also be instrumental to them in receiving additional funding.”

Business Plan Pro Social Enterprise Edition
One difference between other of Business Plan Pro and the Social Enterprise Edition is that you can measure the social benefits of your organization in financial terms.
“Nonprofits need to set objectives, plan, budget. Palo Alto Software is interested in the success of all businesses, but in particular the success of nonprofits that do so much social good,” said Berry.

Business Plan Pro, Social Enterprise Edition retails for $299.95, but registered nonprofit companies can purchase it for $199.95. Berry said that small businesses of all types (both for-profit and not-for-profit) are recognizing business planning as a management tool, one not associated only with starting a business. “Looking at the fundamentals of a business is on-going commitment — it’s never done, but always useful.”

Dan Muse is executive editor of Small Business Channel, EarthWeb’s Networking & Communications Channel and ServerWatch.

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