Dear Enterprise Iain,
Can you come up with a solution to my problem? You see, I have always detested the whole business planning process and the vast army associated with selling business plan advice, but I am in a quandary. I know that in order to finance a business many people need to create a business plan – and many of these people feel exactly the same as I do about them.
I also know that I can help. Some years ago I wrote The Alternative Business Plan – a book that shows a different way of approaching the whole tedious business. But somehow I do not think that title stacks up. Accordingly I am thinking of going all gung ho US style and saying “Business Plans Suck” or perhaps “Down with Business Planning” or even just “The Alternative Business Plan – a useful escape from the ghastly process”.
What do you think would be the best title to really grab the attention of all those reluctant planners out there?
Dear Enterprise Iain,
How nice to hear from you. I am always happy to help; however, I have to confess that there is no simple answer to your question. I can see that on one level you want to write a book that helps people and is practical. On another level you want that book to whizz off the electronic shelf and be the must-read business planning book on Amazon, so that you may enjoy substantial royalties and go off to fantastic surf spots, or drink fine wines in lovely countries around the world. So here is my suggestion.
Ask people out there what title would help them the most. First I want to ask a few questions. Wow – you have provided some of the answers already…
Q. Who is this book aimed at?
A. It is aimed at people who have to do a business plan, but as they have not started their business have too many ideas and too much uncertainty in their head.
It is aimed at people with the ideas and the ambition to change their lives.
I am not aiming it at professional rule followers – the kind of individual who says (and I quote), “But how can you know what to do without a plan?” It is aimed at people who have been bullied into thinking they are a failure because they cannot do a business plan.
Q. Is this book not covered by The Financial Times and Business Planning for Dummies?
A. Not at all. Both are good books for the people who that kind of thing – people who like plans. This new book has a different starting point – until you talk your ideas through and until you can tell a good story you cannot write an effective business plan.
Q. So is this a self-help book?
A. It’s a very practical book and its starting point is the individual and what they want to do. It helps them to tell a story in a way people understand. As Einstein sort of said if you can’t explain your business idea to your granny it won’t work. This book shows you how to do that. And then translate that story into a written document – a plan.
Q. Aha! So you do have to do a business plan?
A. If you want money, yes. I know lots of people who started successful businesses without a plan, but they all said they had to do one when it came to raising finance. Two very different things.
Q. So what do you want from the readers out there?
A. I would really like to hear from people who need this approach. People who are struggling to answer the ghastly questions, people who are intimidated by the language and people for whom this is the first time they have had to do anything as rigidly formulaic as a traditional business plan.
I would like suggestions for a title, and also suggestions on categories – is it business or self-help? What would they search for? How would they tag this book? Where would they buy it?
Oh I see! You want people to rate your title, or suggest another one?