Over the last four years, through our work with the RSA Kickstarter project, One Planet Ventures in Brixton and with Seedbed in the South West of England, we have helped over 200 social entrepreneurs map or innovate their business models. We started by using Alexander Osterwalder’s excellent Business Model Canvas (which, by the way, Make Happy uses with every new client as part of our onboarding process) and Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas (excellent for its focus on the problem that requires fixing), but time and again the feedback from the entrepreneurs was there were a number of areas that neither Canvas adequately addressed.

In particular, the entrepreneurs told us they had issues with:

  • The difference between Value Proposition and Social Benefit.
  • The different customer segments that a social business delivers value to and the fact that the user often doesn’t pay for the value delivered.
  • The key metrics that the business will use to measure itself and how it will be measured externally.
  • Some of the language used in the Business Model Canvas and Lean Canvas aren’t always compatible with a social business.

So we took all the feedback and created a canvas for mapping out the business model of a social business. So what did we change? We unashamedly took the best bits from both Canvases, put social benefit at the heart of the model, changed the language and questions in a number of the boxes, acknowledged the special role of social entrepreneurs in the Cost Structure and Funding Structure and created the Social Business Canvas.

So how can people get involved? By using it and letting me know whether it helps you have better, more strategic conversations around your business model and how you might develop, grow or innovate your social business.

If you know social entrepreneurs who are in the process of developing a social business and managers who are looking at innovating their social enterprise’s business model, please forward the Canvas to them. We have issued it on a Creative Commons licence and want it used as much as possible. Remember we do insist that you credit Make Happy as the source. For a high-resolution copy which will print out up to A0 size for workshops, please click on this link.

We also run a number of pro bono workshops each year with social enterprises that are interested in innovating their business model and are looking for a robust framework to allow them to do that. Please contact my business partner Sophie Paton if you are interested in taking up this offer on sophie@makehappy.co.uk or +44 20 7520 7078.