Frequently Asked Questions

How is a social enterprise different to the voluntary sector?

Social enterprise looks to make a profit and sell a product or service to enable it to meet social aims. While in early stages a social enterprise may still access grants to get established it does not plan to apply for grants in the long term. This may mean it has a different approach to risk, costing and decision making.

What kind of legal structure do I need to be a social enterprise?

Social enterprise can take a variety of legal forms. Most are established as Companies Limited by Guarantee with a non-profit distributing cause. Others may be registered charities or Community Interest Companies. To compare the variety of different legal forms please see the resources section of the website or call and ask to speak to a member of our business support team.

Can I be a paid director of a social enterprise?

Yes. You can also be a paid director of a charity as far as OSCR (the Scottish Charity Regulator are concerned) but not ALL funders will give money to initiatives with paid directors. If you are registered as a CIC you need to publicise the salary of your highest paid director.

Do I have to have a board of directors or trustees?

To be a registered company you must have a minimum of two directors.

How do I find out more on start up awards for social entrepreneurs?

Visit the Funding section of our website. If you are looking for advice on loans or other money for getting started you can contact our office on 0131 220 0511.

What is the cost of getting support from Firstport?

As part of the consortium delivering the Scottish Government’s Just Enterprise programme, Firstport is able to provide start up support free of charge to individuals seeking to start a social enterprise in Scotland.  Firstport also offers additional programmes with the support of other funders, for more information on any of these, check our Programmes page.

Do I need a business plan before I come to Firstport?

No. We can work with you to develop a plan. You do not need a plan to come to us. We may ask you to send through some information prior to a meeting so we can make the most of time we spend though you can still approach us if you a vision you need help to turn into an action plan.

What is a business plan?

A Business Plan is your plan for your business. Key information includes a market analysis (who you are selling to), an operational plan (how you will do this) and cash-flow (the costs and time of spend and income) for your idea. A Social Enterprise Business Plan should also highlight social impacts (how you are making people’s lives better) and Monitoring (how will you know you are achieving impact, perhaps with case studies.) We can work with you to develop this.