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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.

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.

It is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.


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