1. Impact management.
As the mission of a social entrepreneur is having impact on social and societal challenges, it’s important to ‘measure’ this impact. Most people believe -because we learned it this way- that the mission of a for-profit organization is to make as much profit (dividends) and shareholder value for the owners (shareholders). And you know what? After decades and decades we developed very good instruments to manage the maximizing of the financial interests of companies. It’s called accounting, and financial management, and that’s what this course is about. As looking after social and societal challenges was mostly taken care of by government and philanthropists who didn’t follow this financial and accounting rules as they were considered non-profits, little management instruments on impact were developed. Until the last decades, when social organizations were asked to prove their impact, and social investors preferred to invest their money in projects with the greatest social and societal impact. The focus shifted from ‘doing good’ to ‘doing well’ and ‘creating impact’. We like to quote Dr. Karen Maes from Erasmus University Rotterdam who said: “It doesn’t matter why you want to measure your impact, be it for your CSR strategy or for philanthropic reasons. The approach and the reasoning behind stay the same, it’s necessary for both aims. Because, if you don’t measure your impact it’s the same as a commercial organization which does not know how much profits it makes”. This important topic on impact management is dealt with in the Impact management course.
2. Financial (and economic) management.
In this course we will deal with financial management which includes accounting. We also refer to economic management (business model, trends, the context of the organization,… as discussed in the course on Starting up your business) because the financial numbers are based on these economic activities. Positive financial numbers are only possible when the ‘business’ and the business model are also well management. Actually, financial management is where the logical part of the business model gets translated into financials. As you can see, financial management is -as well as impact management- about collecting the right data and analyzing and interpreting them. As said in the above paragraph, our world has lots more experience and instruments about the financial process, but both are equally important to the social entrepreneur. Because without money, there will be no impact. In this course we aim at giving you an overview of the most important documents and principles concerning the financial side of entrepreneurship.
3. Process and Resource management
What if… you have a strong business idea, and you are very clear about the impact you want to achieve, but you do not get your organization well developed, nor your processes efficient? Depending on the concrete situation, one thing is sure: you will achieve less impact and benefits, with more effort. In the worst case, the organization will not survive. This is a thought provoking illustration to show that managing processes, both material and human, are also very important. We refer here to courses in LEAN management as well as organizational development.
4. Healthy Business Management
To be honest, we only recently added this fourth domain to our ‘management responsibility’-scheme. Maybe because somehow, we assumed social entrepreneurs would also be sustainable entrepreneurs. And I guess they all honestly believe in sustainable business! But what for example, if you are the leader of an enterprise employing people with a distance to the labour market and you’re already challenged to find enough orders to keep your people at work. Would you say no to unsustainable assignments? But what’s more important than rejecting or not, is that you as an entrepreneur believe that it’s possible to re-focus to sustainable business. And it is possible! It all starts with becoming aware of the present situation and open your mind to new alternatives.
Probably you’re now wondering if there are tools and instruments to support you in managing a healthy business? Indeed, there are. Most of them you find under the so-called sustainability tools like B-Corp, the Economy of the Common Good (ECG) matrix, future-Fit Business, etc. If you want to make a real choice from these possibilities, you have to examine them all. This falls outside the scope of this course, but we can say that social entrepreneurs in Flanders embrace the ECG matrix. Because, within the range of sustainability tools, it is the one that is at the same time very well substantiated and focuses on ‘do good’ rather than ‘do no harm’. In other words, most tools focus on reducing the disadvantages/externalities of capitalism (without naming capitalism) while Economy of the Common Goods starts from the focus on a healthy society – on ‘do good’. Their model is therefore not built around reducing disadvantages, but around building an economy and society based on people’s fundamental rights. If you want to learn more, -have a look at their website: https://www.ecogood.org/ and https://www.ecogood.org/apply-ecg/common-good-matrix/