Theory and application
“Wie können Sozialunternehmen schnell, aber gesund wachsen? Welche typischen und spezifischen Herausforderungen sind beim Wachstumsprozess zu beachten und wie können sie gelöst werden?”
This paper attempts to give advice for the scaling up of social enterprises. The project is twofold: At first a theoretical overview of growth is introduced; then the focus shifts to concrete challenges for growth of social businesses. This second part is supposed to be of applicable value for the practitioner. In the first part the process of scaling up is being analyzed in a general way, introducing the classical definitions of growth and presenting the according strategies. After analyzing the general concept of growth, the theory of growth is being applied to social businesses, focusing on the specific ramifications that result from the different goals and settings of a social business. Most explicitly of which is the change in intention: from profit to impact. This necessitates a new and complex look at growth when it comes to social businesses – even if profit remains an important aim of most social businesses. In order to be of most practical value, the second part presents the most common challenges to scaling up a social business. Each challenge is being analyzed in a general fashion, then remedies are being introduced and finally examples from practitioners and social businesses around the world are given to visualize the challenges and remedies. Both external and internal challenges are considered. The external challenges of most importance are: understanding the concept of a social business; the access to markets; the problems of measuring impact; building and making use of networks; the legal confusion surrounding social businesses; financing a social business; increasing sales. The internal challenges of a social business focused on are: the right and working business model; and the right mindset, spirit and capabilities within the business.