The Best Laid Business Plans by Paul Barrow

by Paul Simister on June 22, 2011

I enjoyed reading The Best Laid Business Plans: How To Write Them, How To Pitch Them by Paul Barrow.

Best Laid Business Plans by Paul Barrow

The Best Laid Business Plans book cover

It is one of the Virgin Business Guides but don’t be fooled, Sir Richard Branson had very little to do with it.

Business planning is essential for any business start-up and it’s important for any business to take the time and think about the future and how it will successfully compete.

Why You Need A Business Plan

Paul Barrow recognises four needs for business plans:

  1. To raise money – this is usually why most small businesses create a business plan… because they have no choice.
  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.

Review Of The Best Laid Business Plans

Each chapter of The Best Laid Business Plans starts with a little summary of which contents is suitable for which type of plan.

The chapters are:

Chapter 1 – Planning – who needs it?  This introduces the four types of plan I’ve just mentioned and the benefits of business planning.

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? An important reminder that your business should be designed to provide you with what you want. It also stresses the importance of the executive summary at the beginning of the plan and how it frames the whole approach for the reader.

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 – a business plan is much more than thee profit forecast and cash flow forecast but 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 USPPEST, SWOT and contingency planning and the marketing mix.

Chapter 9 – How are you going to deliver? Your products and services and how you will supply them.

Chapter 10 – What about people? Recognition that businesses need good people and are held back without them.

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.

My Thoughts On The Best Laid Business Plans: How To Write Them, How To Pitch Them by Paul Barrow

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”. The concepts are obviously related since a business plan to raise finance needs to convince people that you know what you are doing.

I liked the little stories and examples scattered through the book which helped to clarify points.

Although The Best Laid Business Plans book was written in 2001, much of the contents is still very relevant although you will need to be careful on compliance (legal) issues.

The book makes little reference to the Internet and it’s funny how things have changed in the last ten years.  His is an example of why business planning is important.

The book is broad in that it addresses the four types of business planning but that can also be a weakness. There is a difference in the business planning needs to raise £10,000 from a bank and £1,000,000 from a venture capital organisation.

I recommend The Best Laid Business Plans: How To Write Them, How To Pitch Them by Paul Barrow to anyone who wants to learn more about business planning.

If you are ready to start your business plan, I recommend that you use specialist business planning software.

Paul Simister is a business strategy coach who helps small business owners to profit from differentiating their businesses, by being distinctive in the eyes of their customers and standing out in a crowded marketplace…. in other words, by building a business to be proud of.

You too can move past your profit tipping point (free report) by answering the seven big questions of business success (mp3).

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