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The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook, Expanded Edition

Pressure Test, Plan, Launch and Scale Your Social Enterprise

Ian C. MacMillan and James D. Thompson

Winner of 2015 Axiom Business Book Award, Earning a Gold Medal in Entrepreneurship

Covers all three phases of the start-up to scale-up process, developed with reader feedback from “one of the more unusual ebook…experiments of the year” (ThinReads)

Wharton professor Ian C. MacMillan and Dr. James Thompson, director of the Wharton Social Entrepreneurship Program, provide a tough-love approach that significantly increases the likelihood of a successful social enterprise launch in the face of the high-uncertainty conditions typically encountered by social entrepreneurs.

MacMillan and Thompson used their own systematic framework to publish The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook. To test the market, they offered the first phase in their start-up method (step 1) as a free ebook. Readers were invited to join The Social Entrepreneur’s Advisory Group, and nearly 300 aspiring and active social entrepreneurs shared feedback that helped shape the complete edition of the book, which covers all three steps in the start-up to scale-up process.

Based on this crowd-sourced feedback from readers of the free ebook and drawing on the authors’ more than 26 years’ combined experience developing and studying social enterprises in the field across Africa and in the United States, this new edition provides guidance for each phase:

  • Phase One: Pressure Test Your Start-Up Idea. Based on the free ebook, this expanded section now includes advice on setting revenue and social impact goals, how to navigate the sociopolitical landscape, and how to develop a strong concept statement. In addition, MacMillan and Thompson provide advice on how to identify and test a proposed revenue-generating solution and define and segment your target population.
  • Phase Two: Plan Your Social Enterprise. All new to this edition, this critical phase shows you how to frame and scope the venture, determine what it will take to actually deliver a sustainable enterprise, identify the key assumptions that have been made, and design checkpoints to test those assumptions before making major investments.
  • Phase Three: Launch and Scale Your Social Enterprise. Available for the first time in this edition, you will learn how to effectively launch your enterprise, manage upside potential and downside risk, and strategically scale up.

Filled with accessible frameworks and tools, as well as inspiring stories of social entrepreneurs, The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook is a must-read for any aspiring or active social entrepreneur, as well as philanthropists, foundations, and nonprofits interested in doing more good with fewer resources.

The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook Worksheet Companion is available as a free PDF download to assist you in planning your social enterprise idea.

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Download the Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook Worksheet Companion

About the Authors

Praise for The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook, Expanded Edition

“Social entrepreneurship represents an innovative and effective mechanism for addressing many problems around the world. The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook is an important contribution to help aspiring entrepreneurs take the first step.”

—David Bornstein, author of How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas 

“The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook provides invaluable insights into how best to foster truly sustainable enterprises that are economically viable and that significantly improve quality of life for individuals and communities.”

Kenneth C. Frazier, Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO, Merck & Co., Inc.

“The processes recommended in The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook show that due diligence matters, and can be carried out, for organizations that attend to those in need. That way, resources can be focused, and well-meaning but vainglorious resource expenditures avoided. What’s more: MacMillan and Thompson clearly walk their talk; rather than simply publishing a book, they are pressure-testing their own first draft and asking readers to help write the final manuscript.”

Mark O. Winkelman, Senior Director, Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.

The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook shows us how to understand, evaluate, and pragmatically fund investments designed for significant social impact.  It is essential reading for those who care about deploying philanthropic and impact investing resources for the greatest good.”

Ronald D. Cordes, Board Member, Impact Assets; Co-Chairman, Genworth Financial, Inc.

“I have long felt that we can do better by using our altruistic resources to build self-sufficiency instead of dependency.  The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook shows that it can be done and how to do it.”

—Robert B. Goergen, Chairman and CEO, Blyth, Inc.

“MacMillan and Thompson have delivered a powerful set of tools for anyone interested in creating scalable, positive social impact while conserving resources through disciplined entrepreneurship.  The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook provides a unique and compelling framework for funders, investors, and others who would like to increase the reach, efficacy, and investment transparency of their contributions.”

—Arthur D. Collins Jr., retired Chairman & CEO of Medtronic, Inc., and Senior Advisor to Oak Hill Capital Partners

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