If you want a book on business planning, I’ll help you to find what I feel are the best to choose from.
Business Planning Books versus Business Strategy Books,
First let me clarify that I’ve separated “business planning”, an activity designed to produce some kind of document, away from “strategic planning”.
These are related and the bigger the business relative to the market and the more competitive the situation, the more you need to think about strategic planning as you prepare a business plan.
This category is also linked with an area I call your “Inner Game” which is to do with how business owners set their vision and translate that it their goals, priorities and daily actions along with facing issues like fear of failure or procrastination.
What Is Business Planning?
The simplest answer is “thinking about what you want your business to do and achieve in the future.”
Beyond that, business planning can be hard to pin down because of the different requirements of planning and the business plan.
Some want a business plan to give to the bank. This is basically a selling document, selling the bank on “why they should lend money to this business”.
Others want a business plan to help move their own businesses forward. This doesn’t need various parts of the business plan needed for the bank. Instead it needs to be looking critically at the opportunities the business faces, and the weaknesses and constraints which may stop the business in its tracks including key dependencies.
Others want to think about the future under different possible scenarios of the future. Whilst this may fit more naturally under the Business Strategy books, it can also apply to smaller, simpler businesses who face a potential “fork in the road” like Brexit and the alternatives for dealing with European Union countries.
Or perhaps the business plan is required by a group holding company or venture capitalist and it needs a different slant again as the third party acts partly as a shareholder and partly as an external stakeholder who needs to be “sold” on your future plans.
The Best Business Planning Books
You will only see the business planning books I’ve rated at Four Stars (meaning good and well worth reading) and Five Stars (excellent and very highly recommended).
If you read my reviews, you’ll see I try to explain why I like them but also to identify any weaknesses. My job as a reviewer is to help you to find the most appropriate books rather than to help sell more books.
On that note, if you do decide to buy, I’d appreciate it if you could click through to Amazon on my links as (hopefully) I’ll earn a small referral commission.
Some of these books can be very expensive so, if you’re happy with a hard back or paperback book, take a look at the second hand options on Amazon. Personally I only buy if the condition is described as “As New” or “Very Good” unless I’m really keen and forced to drop down to “Good”.
Five Star Business Planning Books
This is a hard category to edge from Good to Excellent and I haven’t found any yet.
What am I looking for? A book that lays out the foundations of an effective business planning process which can produce fit for purpose plans for the various type of plan produced. Alternatively it needs to clearly identify that it’s only designed for one purpose.
I’m also looking for a book that properly tackles the constraints and limitations on the business owner to help stop the “pie in the sky” style of plan together with helping to identify the priority of actions. Even for business plans for banks, the business owners should be very aware of what may stop the planned future from happening and have some kind of contingency plan in place..
Four Star Business Planning Books
It is an achievement to move from Three Stars (worthwhile at providing the essentials) to Four Stars (good and well worthwhile) in this category. There are standard elements of a business plan that any book should include.
The Best Laid Business Plans by Paul Barrow
The One Page Business Plan by Jane Horan
Start at the End by David Lavinsky
Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur
Three Steps Ahead by David Silverstein
The One Page Business Strategy by Marc Van Eck and Ellen Leenhouts
Other Categories of Books That May Interest You
You may also be interested in finding out my Five and Four Star books in any of these categories:
Business Start-Up – Business Strategy – Business Turnaround – Differentiation Strategy – Economics – Finance – Getting Unstuck – Inner Game – KPI & Performance Measurement – Marketing – Project Management – Understanding Buyers
Paul Simister is a business coach who helps business owners who are stuck, get unstuck. If your business is based in the UK, you can have a free Business SOS consultation with me to help you get unstuck.