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The Mission-Driven Venture: Business Solutions to the World s Most Vexing Social Problems by Marc J. Lane

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Chapter 2Where to Begin?Constructing the Mission-Driven Venture

The mission-driven entrepreneur—whether a socially conscious individual, a member of a startup team, or a nonprofit's social enterprise champion—is likely to agree with management guru Jim Collins, the author of the groundbreaking bestseller Good to Great, who once observed that “When [what you are deeply passionate about, what you can be best in the world at and what drives your economic engine] come together, not only does your work move toward greatness, but so does your life.” But how does the mission-driven venture take shape?

A growing number of professionals are encouraging their entrepreneurial clients to forego formal business planning in favor of a “lean startup,” an alternative the mission-driven entrepreneur should seriously consider. After all, the conventional process—drafting a comprehensive business plan, pitching it to likely investors, recruiting talent, bringing a product or service to market, and lining up customers—hasn't worked very well. According to Harvard Business School's Shikhar Ghosh, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal, three-quarters of all startups fail. The odds are probably even worse for the mission-driven startup, balancing objectives including positive social change and its own financial sustainability.

To mitigate risk, proponents of the lean startup argue in favor of iterative business design rather than systematic business planning. Customer input is invited at an early stage ...

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