The author recognises four needs for business plans: 1 - To raise money - this is usually why most small businesses create a business plan. 2 - To get approval for a course of action - from the owner, the board or the holding company 3 - To improve performance 4 - To get third party support - customers, suppliers or a landlord may want reassurance about the intentions of the business.
The purpose of the plan then guides its contents.
Each chapter starts with a little summary of which contents is suitable for which type of plan.
The chapters are:
Chapter 1 - Planning - who needs it? Chapter 2 - In search of the perfect plan. A summary of the main steps involved in a business plan and an outline of what is included together with how to present it and where to send it. Chapter 3 - Hey you - what do you want? A reminder that your business should be designed to provide you with what you want. Chapter 4 - What is it you do - and how well do you do it? A quick look at your current business situation focusing on your mission and objectives and your management and key employees. Chapter 5 - Let's look at the numbers - sensible numbers are essential. Chapter 6 - But where will the money come from? An overview of financing the business. Chapter 7 - What about market research? You need to get evidence to support your sales forecast. Chapter 8 - What's so special about your business? A quick look at your USP, PEST, SWOT and contingency planning and the marketing mix. Chapter 9 - How are you going to deliver? Chapter 10 - What about people? Chapter 11 - Making it all happen - communicating and delivering your plan. Chapter 12 - Final thoughts - a business plan checklist and thoughts about your next business plan.
I found the book an interesting read although it was stronger in the early chapters than later on. I thought the focus slipped away from business planning to how to run a business. I liked the little stories and examples scattered through the book which helped to clarify points.
Although the book was written in 2001, much of the contents is still very relevant although you will need to be careful on legal and tax issues.
The book is broad in that it addresses the four types of business planning but that is also a weakness. Each could have been a separate book to give real focus to the particular issues involved..
I recommend the book to any small business owner who needs to prepare a business plan but is unsure what to do.
About my book reviews - I aim to be a tough reviewer because the main cost of a book is not the money to buy it but the time needed to read it and absorb the key messages. 4 stars means this is a good to very good book.
I bought this book at the business planning stage before starting our business and I found it indispensable. I used almost all of it to develop our business plan and 3 years later our business (started from our attic bedroom)is becoming established, has premises, 5 staff and we have just reached the semi-finals stage for an award for best new businesses. I still use the very useful spreadsheets (which are available from an on-line link in the book) for producing our accounts. For those with previous business experience or substantial theoretical knowledge from business courses it may not be as valuable. But for those with little of this experience or knowledge it provides a really good starting point.
If you want to start a business, this is the book to read. We all need a business plan to start, grow and keep a business. This book tells you why, how, and for whom sections of the business plan should be written.
Branson puts his years of business experience and knowledge into a great book that both inspires and helps would be entrepreneurs. Easy to read and full of helpful hints and advice. If you are thinking of starting up a business, make this book one to read. You won't regret it.