The idea of "doing good while doing well" certainly isn't new, but it is increasingly popular in both the business and non-profit worlds. Increasingly, non-profits are developing social enterprises to help the organization become financially sustainable without being as dependent upon the good will of donors. On the other hand, some for-profit businesses are intentionally being established with the mindset that the business's social impact or mission is at least equally as important as earning a profit.
A social enterprise is a business that is both purpose-driven and market-driven. Unlike a typical for-profit business, a social enterprise is not exclusively dedicated to maximizing profits, but unlike a typical non-profit organization, a social enterprise does sell goods or services to raise revenue while addressing a larger societal issue. Social enterprises can range from socially responsible or philanthropic-minded for-profit businesses to revenue-generating arms of traditional non-profit organizations.
How is forming a social enterprise different from establishing other types of business entities? And how should you structure a social enterprise?
Brand recognition is important to many businesses. Much like larger companies, there are certain things that we hope will cause our customers to think of us and our message. For example, Nike has the swoosh symbol, the slogan “Just Do It,” and even the name Nike. When we see these things, we automatically think about that particular company and its products. And for better or worse, we want the real thing from Nike and not some knock-off counterfeit. And the same is true of service-based businesses. When you hear “What’s in your wallet?” you immediately think of a certain bank.
Think for a moment about what your customers or clients see that they associate with your goods or services. Now think about the time and effort and even money your business has put into that branding, and you’ll immediately understand why it’s so important to protect that brand. In this series, we’re going to discuss just how to do that by registering for and protecting your trademarks.