≡ Menu

Best Business Planning Books Reviews

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-UpBusiness StrategyBusiness TurnaroundDifferentiation StrategyEconomicsFinanceGetting UnstuckInner GameKPI & Performance MeasurementMarketingProject ManagementUnderstanding 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.

The full title of this book by Marc Van Eck and Ellen Leenhouts is

The One Page Business Strategy: Streamline Your Business Plan in Four Simple Steps“.

In my review on Amazon.co.uk, I gave the book a rating of Four Stars. This means I consider it to be in the good to very good category.

Here is my review.

A nice summary planning process

This book explains a useful planning process which helps to provide focus and coordination. The format summarises the plan nicely although I think the one page is a gimmick as it specifies a minimum font size of 6ppt. Personally I’d rather have two pages I can read without squinting.

It involves working through the main Objective, Goals, Strategies & both meanings of Measures – a KPI Dashboard and Actions. [continue reading…]

in Best Business Books

The One Page Business Plan by Jane Horan

The full title of this book by Jane Horan is

The One Page Business Plan: The Fastest, Easiest Way to Write a Business Plan“.

In my review posted to Amazon.co.uk, I gave the book a Four Stars rating. This means I think it is Good and Well Worth Reading.

Here is my book review.

A very interesting way to develop or summarise your plans for a business

This is very different from other business planning books I’ve read. It solves a problem which puts many small business owners off the idea of business planning because of the time required.

The typical business plan is long on words and numbers but this does what it says on the tin. While it’s short on words, it is deep in the most important thing – the quality of thinking which goes into creating a successful business. [continue reading…]

in Best Business Books

The Best Laid Business Plans by Paul Barrow

The complete title of this book by Paul Barrow is

The Best Laid Business Plans: How to Write Them, How to Pitch Them“.

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I rated this book as Four Stars. This means that I think it is Good and Well Worth Reading.

Here is my book review.

Identifies four types of business plan and guides you through what’s needed.

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. [continue reading…]

in Best Business Books

The full title of this book by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur is

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers“.

In my review on Amazon.co.uk, I gave the book a rating of Four Stars. This means that it is Good and Well Worth Reading.

Here is my book review.

More style than substance

This is a remarkable triumph of visual design. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a book like it before.

I have some criticisms about how easy it is to read and the fact that the content is more style over substance. For one thing, to create space for all the funky images, the words are in a small font. I was OK but I know that some people will struggle.

I really like the idea of the one page Business Model Canvas which is described as “a shared language for describing, visualising, assessing and changing business models.” It looks very useful to summarise your existing business model and for moving towards better ways to create, deliver and capture value. [continue reading…]

in Best Business Books

Start at the End by David Lavinsky

The full title of this book by David Lavinsky is

Start at the End: How Companies Can Grow Bigger and Faster by Reversing Their Business Plan“.

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I rated this book as Four Stars. This means I think it is Good and Well Worth Reading.

Here is my book review.

Recommended for inexperienced small business owners.

I have mixed feelings about this book.

On the one hand, it wasn’t the book that I expected to read about reversing planning from an end goal and how to overcome the obstacles and constraints that stand in the way.

On the other hand, I think it is a very good book to help the owners of new and growing small businesses to recommit to the business and it’s packed with practical management tips. [continue reading…]

in Best Business Books

Three Steps Ahead by David Silverstein

The full title of this book by David Silverstein is

Three Steps Ahead: Thinking Strategically to Avoid Unintended Consequences“.

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I gave the book Four Stars. This means I think it is Good and Well Worth Reading.

Here is my book review.

Very interesting

By definition, it’s unusual to think about unintended consequences but these are the usually unwanted events that turn a good idea into a bad one. That’s obviously a mistake but how do you think about the unknown unknowns?

Unintended consequences are also a problem with performance measures and incentives. I remember blogging about the time when the Accident & Emergency departments in hospitals were set a target to see people in four hours and it resulted in the measure being gamed by leaving patients in ambulances and tying down these first responders to the hospitals instead of being free to deal with emergencies. [continue reading…]

in Best Business Books

Your Business Blueprint by Rich Schefren

Your Business Blueprint by Rich Schefren

Book Review  4.5 Stars

Your Business Blueprint is the first Founders Club report and pdf written by Rich Schefren. This is the master-plan for you to design your business.

Let me emphasise three of those words.

Design Your Business

While business owners are encouraged to create business plans,the thinking is often at a level that is too superficial. The plan is written to convince the bank manager to give you the loan or overdraft you want. It doesn’t dig deep into how you can create a business model to create the right business for you.

The right business for you is one that gives you the lifestyle you want in your private life.

Too often businesses evolve, step by step, one decision at a time.

[continue reading…]

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning, Best Business Books