Thursday, April 5, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Enterprising Nonprofits: A Toolkit for Social Entrepreneurs

 True to its name, this book is a nice little toolkit you should keep in your office as a reference book.  It starts off - as any good book should - with definitions. What is social entrepreneurship? What makes an enterprise a social enterprise? Then it moves on to setting the foundations for your social enterprise, defining your operations, reaching out to your customers, and ends with some suggested further reading in the appendix. 

What I love about this book is that it's a practical, actionable book. Not just page after page of theories, but a good mix of good explanatory paragraphs and process charts and diagrams you can actually apply to your own operations.

In true schoolbook fashion, it's also got a system showing you the best way to absorb what the book has to teach you. It has little symbols identifying key texts/sections in the book as:
  • Core concept
  • Tool of the trade
  • Practical tip
  • Reality check
  • Gem of wisdom
  • Red flag
  • Action step
  • Concept check


Does it actually work? Well, only time will tell. Reading it is one thing, but applying it to real-world situations is another. So I'll have to wait and see.

However, as far as theory is concerned, it did clarify a lot of things in my head. I'm currently drafting some planning sessions for the staff in my NGO and already this book has given me loads of ideas and diagrams to use when facilitating the sessions.

If, like me, you are a lover of diagrams and terms like "mission drift", "discovery driven planning" or "disruptive innovations"... then you will love this book as well!


Chapter 1: Social Entrepreneurship
   What is social entrepreneurship?
   What makes an enterprise a social enterprise?
   Why social entrepreneurship is important to you?
   Factors leading to entrepreneurial success

Chapter 2: Defining Your Mission
   Mission as the entrepreneur's most useful tool
   How to define your organization's mission

Chapter 3: Recognizing and Assessing New Opportunities
   Opportunity recognition is a skill, not a character trait
   Always on the lookout
   The value of a strategic plan
   Assessing opportunities
   Windows of opportunity

Chapter 4: Mobilizing Resources
   It's not just about the money
   Assess your resource needs - entrepreneurially
   Ten tips for reducing your initial cash needs
   Develop your resource mobilization strategy

Chapter 5: The Accountable Social Entrepreneur
   Defining accountability an understanding its dimensions
   The rationale for being an accountable social entrepreneur: Why bother?
   The accountability trap: feeling accountable to all, being accountable to none
   Making accountability work for you: moving from concept to action
   On stubbing your toe: possible implications of being accountable
   The six steps to meaningful accountability

Chapter 6: Understanding Risk: The Social Entrepreneur, and Risk Management
   What does "risk" really mean?
   The art of calculated risk taking
   Understanding risk, reward, and the reason we're playing the game
   Understanding your options: strategies for managing risks
   The potential costs of risk-reduction strategies... a word of acution
   Learning from your mistakes

Chapter 7: Mastering the Art of Innovation
   What is innovation?
   Where to look for innovative opportunities
   Balancing tensions in the innovation process
   Managing the resistance to innovation
   Creating an innovative, adaptive enterprise

Chapter 8: Understanding and Attracting Your "Customers"
   Identifying your customers
   Understanding your customers' needs and wants 
   Creating a winning value proposition
   Pricing your product, service, and mission

Chapter 9: Financial Management
   The only five financial reports you'll ever need
   The basics of financial management
   Keeping track of it all (cost accounting)
   The price of success (isn't terribly high)

Chapter 10: Planning for the Social Enterprise
   Business planning: why?
   Business planning: how?
   Business planning: whatever the purpose, no matter what the scope, it works
   Business plan for the social enterprise: the document
   Comparing a social enterprise plan with a traditional business plan

Enterprising Nonprofits: A Toolkit for Social Entrepreneurs is available on Amazon.Com.

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