So you want to start a social enterprise? Oh good, you’ve come to the right place.
The Heart of the Matter
As a social entrepreneur, we know you see a problem and want to fix it. For a lot of really good reasons, forming an entity will be a necessary first step.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the technicalities of putting your idea into a formally registered company. Let us make it simple for you! We’ll take all the guesswork out and streamline the legal process so you can focus your best energy on what matters most—your mission.
Yes, we are idealists and do-ers, but we’re also lawyers too. Our depth of knowledge and experience of the legal and practical issues affecting social enterprises, investors and intermediaries makes us your shining star when it comes to advising on any aspect of setting up, financing and running a social enterprise.
We’ll help you sort through the benefits and drawbacks of each entity type based on your individual situation, taking into consideration your business model, plan for growth, short- and long-term goals, and overall vision.
In a nutshell, your main options look something like this:
Generally, this means a corporation, an LLC, or a partnership. While the main qualities of each respective entity type are pretty uniform regardless of the state you form it in, each has its own unique features and certain laws and requirements can vary state to state.
These are a type of entity formed at the state level (like regular corporations and LLCs) that are legally required to create a public benefit, consider the impact of their decisions on key stakeholders (the community, employees, and environment) in addition to shareholders, and report their overall social and/or environmental performance to the public annually. (And even if your state hasn’t passed the legislation yet, we can still make it happen!)
Not a type of entity in and of itself, but rather a certification available to any type of already-established for-profit entity, doled out by an organization called B Lab. (Think of it like what Fair Trade does for coffee.) To get it, you must pass an assessment that shows your business meets higher standards of social and/or environmental performance, accountability, and transparency, submit supporting documentation, and amend your corporate documents.
It’s a fact that social entrepreneurs are increasingly starting for-profit businesses whose primary purpose is social impact (non-nonprofits, y’all – we’re all about it!). Adding more fuel to the fire is the huge increase in investors willing (and wanting!) to put their money to use in support of social causes (according to the most recent report, investment capital being used to create social value of some kind went up 250% between 2011 and 2013).
The world’s finally getting on board, you guys.
What We Do
If you’re ready to jump on the train…
Here’s How We Help You Make It Official
Selecting an entity type:
There are several options out there, and we’ll help you select the right one based on your individual needs and long-term vision.
Legally forming your entity:
Depending on the type of entity, state of formation, and where you’ll be operating, certain documents will need to be created and filed with the appropriate state agencies, along with filing fees. We’ll do all the legwork for you and make it as simple as possible.
Setting you up with corporate documents:
Organizational corporate documents provide the legal foundation and rules for governing your social venture, and the specific ones you’ll need will differ based on the type of entity being formed. Making sure these are done properly is crucial to keeping things running smoothly and avoiding potential complications down the road. Let us help you get it right the first time.
Coaching on legal obligations going forward:
Formalizing your idea as a company comes with some legal obligations you’ll have to comply with on a going-forward basis. We’ll let you know what these are based on your state and type of entity (some have more than others) and get you comfortable with best practices for remaining legally-compliant well into the future, including what needs to be filed with whom and when.
Walking through B Corp certification, if applicable:
Getting certified as a B Corp is a process separate and distinct from actually forming your legally-recognizable entity. We’ll guide you through it, and help you amend your corporate documents if need-be. If your social enterprise is less than a year old, you’ll have to wait a bit to get formally certified, but you can still apply for Pending B Corp certification in the meantime.
Another fun tid-bit: We use flat fees rather than the outdated pay-by-the-minute system used by regular ol’ lawyers. Not only does this help make us more efficient with our time, it saves you a ton of money.
What about next steps, you ask? We have really awesome partners we can connect you with for other start-up needs, like business plans, financial modeling, management consulting, photography, website design and tax advice. If you’re interested, just let us know!
The truth about big changes: some people won’t come with you – and that’s ok.