Alberta Social Entrepreneurship Support System: Tools, Links & Coaching

Helping Social Enterprises Figure Out Their Key Issues

Introduction to TLC:

On your journey to starting up or scaling your social enterprise there will be a number of hurdles and pressure points that you will need to navigate. Based on the Trico Foundation’s experiences working with social enterprises at various stages in their journeys, we have developed a roadmap of a number of key issues that we see social entrepreneurs face time and time again.

Below you will find the issues we have identified and the corresponding resources that we have available. These resources have been developed for social entrepreneurs who want help figuring out their key issues (what they are and/or what to do about them) and are open to everyone.

If your organization is an Alberta based charity that feels that you have things figured out and need funding to help you get to the next level of your venture, check out the A.S.E.S.S. Funding page for details.

On this page:

  • The Key Issues Facing Social Entrepreneurs
  • Tools: The Worksheets
  • Coaching
  • Links: Connecting You to Other Resources

The Key Issues Facing Social Entrepreneurs:

Tools: The Worksheets

Within the A.S.E.S.S. worksheets we have done our best to condense the best expertise we could find to help you embrace the discipline of learning as quickly, cheaply and effectively as possible and navigating, in a step-by-step process, the key issues facing social entrepreneurs.

Our understanding of these challenges grows everyday as we work with more social entrepreneurs, as such the above resources are our attempt to share these learnings beyond the groups we work with one-on-one and we will do our best to keep them as up to date as possible.

1. The Blender

While blending a social mission with an entrepreneurial model can be powerful, it can be surprisingly tricky. The Blender helps you map how these aspects interact, identifying pressure points to keep an eye on as you move forward.

2. Finding Your ‘Early Adopter’ Worksheet

Why do so many ventures fail or sputter after they began with such promise – and eager customers? This worksheet introduces the idea of customer segments, and allows you to determine which specific customer group makes the most sense to approach as you develop your social enterprise.

3. Key Steps Worksheet

A stumbling block for many ventures is failing to understand all the things their customers, their beneficiaries (if they are different from your customers), and they themselves will need to do to make their social enterprise a success. This worksheet allows you to do a deep dive on all the key steps that are needed  in order to make your vision a reality.

4. Operating Costs & Core Numbers Worksheet

Another key stumbling block for ventures is getting nasty surprises about how much their venture will cost. This worksheet helps you zero in on what the numbers will really look like.

5. Testing Worksheet

While almost (almost!) everything else is fixable, nothing will slow your venture down or put it more at risk than your inability to identify your assumptions and test/ learn from them as efficiently and effectively as possible.  This worksheet takes you through a number of tools to determine what you need to know ASAP to move your venture forward and helps you outline low-risk tests that can get your venture moving towards your ultimate vision.

Please keep in mind that:

a) This process is meant for organizations that have settled on a social enterprise idea that they wish to explore further (i.e. it’s post-ideation). If you have a specific social idea these tools should be able to help you, whether you are at the early idea/concept stage, ready to launch, looking to grow or looking to scale (and everything in-between).

b) The Trico Foundation strongly believes social enterprises are most effective when they own their own journey – driving their experience in selecting what, if any, resources they choose to utilize. The A.S.E.S.S. worksheets are in a logical sequence, but organizations are also able to pick and choose which worksheets address the challenges they are currently facing.

Please note that we occasionally offer workshops on the above issues and corresponding worksheets via partner organizations and/or in small groups to those taking part in our below coaching process. If you are interested in either hosting or attending one of our workshops, please reach out via [email protected]



Coaching Principles

The Trico Foundation team works with a limited number of organizations providing them with coaching support specific to the A.S.E.S.S. key issues mentioned on the A.S.E.S.S. TLC webpage. Rather than giving advice, we employ questions as a means to help organizations work through specific issues they are facing regarding their social enterprise:

  • Coaching is helping you on your social enterprise journey (learn more about “owning your journey”). It is helping you resolve the struggles you have identified when it comes to building your organization’s capacity to use social entrepreneurship to close gaps in society;
  • Coaching is not telling you what you should be struggling with or what to do. Either of these would fall into ‘funder power dynamics’, something we are committed to eliminating. Once you identify the specific issue you want coaching on (we may help you through a series of questions to get from a general issue to a specific issue as we have found that issues are easier to grapple with when your focus is narrowed), we ask a series of questions that help you figure out the path to resolving that issue. As we said, coaching is asking questions, we do not give advice or tell you what to do.
  • Not sure which issue to request coaching on first? You may want to check out the above online worksheets or sign up for our newsletter to hear about upcoming workshops.

Coaching Process:

*We are currently updating our coaching process. Details will be shared when available*

Links: Connecting You to Other Resources