12 – Protection & Prevention

5) Protection from Pests

Defending Your Vision When Predators Try to Bring You Down

Black Hats, White Hats and 49 Shades of Grey!

White Hats. As a social enterprise your mission is to do good. And that means you will attract a lot of ‘White Hat’ customers, business partners, suppliers, investors, workers and so on. White Hats are people who also want to do good and just like the Lone Ranger they will ride in and help in the form of volunteers, working for lower than market rates of pay or simply giving resources to assist your social enterprise.

Black Hats. However, doing good does not always mean you will always be dealing with ‘good’ characters! Criminals, fraudsters, con artists, aggressively litigious customers will all eventually have to be faced. We call those characters Black Hats for obvious reason! However, by running an honest business you have a number of resources when dealing with ‘Black Hats’.

50 Shades of Grey Hats! As previously mentioned, when you are a social enterprise you will deal with people who help your enterprise immensely. They might have done amazing volunteer work in the early days when you were starting up. They might be a long time customer. But then things go wrong and for some reason or the other the relationship fails. This is when morality truly has to be tested . . . in the shades of grey. The only advice for dealing with a ‘Grey Hat’ is a grey nuanced and proportionate response.

How you deal with Black, White and Grey Hat characters will probably be one of the most important factors in whether your enterprise succeeds or not.

Based on our experience we developed the following strategies:

1) Protection and Prevention.

– Trademark

Once you are running your own social and activist enterprise you will create products or services which will create the change that you wish to see in the world. The symbol, name or other device that you will use to identify your business is important. Indeed, it makes your activist project unique and so reflects your enterprise’s philosophy. In that way, your enterprise’s brand will be protected against use by others.

If you opt for a trademark you should choose a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that really identifies and distinguishes your business enterprise from others. Once you have done that you should register your trademark through an Agency of the Department of Commerce. For Americans, go through The United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website (USPTO).

2) Honesty and Paying Taxes as Core Business Practices

Being an honest tax paying social enterprise is probably one of the most important ways you can protect your enterprise.

Honesty as a weapon against criminals and blackmail. We know one community in Denmark that did not declare over 100,000 Kroner as income because they were not zoned as a community-based business.

They kept the equivalent of $14,000 in cash in a ‘safe’ place on the property known to only trusted community members. However, when one of the trusted members  absconded with it, the community couldn’t call the police because that income had not been declared and was thus illegal under Danish Law.

Honesty Can Allow you To Take Advantage of Government Programs. In Europe, one advantage exists. Because of their generous welfare system, in many communities there are a large percentage of adults collecting welfare. This makes it possible for them to pay a share of the welfare income to the community, thus providing income and stability

In America, we have no system that compares to the generosity of the European welfare system. However, Food Stamp recipients do qualify to be in our Intern Program.

Lines of Legality. We are still able to be strong in our Social Enterprise projects because they are all legal. Our most important social enterprise project, Natural Miscarriage deals with a very controversial subject; abortion. Yet it is legal, due to the fact that we provide information and free speech is strongly protected in America.

So we are able to have a tax-paying Social Enterprise business that provides information to women across the planet, even in places where abortion is illegal.

Moral Combat

We strongly recommend that you know some of the basics of the courts in the region which you live in. For example, many Western countries have a Small Claims Court System which are ideal for a tiny micro system. While not the greatest they often serve as a non-violent way to resolve relatively minor business related conflicts.
Be familiar with the legal process in your country for you never know when you will have to defend yourself and/or your community in court!
When you are doing business honestly and paying your taxes and working with legitimate and legal contracts, agreements and policies then you are in a strong position when it comes to any legal argument!