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Business Plans That Work: Why Some Do and Most Don’t

Starting a new business? Ditch the business plan. 

I discovered an amazing book for you ~ ‘Business Plans That Work: Why Some Do and Most Don’t’
The New E-Book by Entrepreneurial Advisor Cynthia Kocialski

In the eye-opening ebook, Business Plans That Work: Why Some Do and Most Don’t readers will discover not the boring step-by-step approach to writing a typical business plan, but something quite the opposite.

 Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that this is the Golden Age of the Entrepreneur. The exploits of scrappy start-up firms are celebrated in the media, the stock market is rewarding businesses with near all-time valuations, Silicon Valley can’t find enough qualified workers and reality television programs such as ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ and CNBC’s ‘How I Made My Millions’ garner top ratings. Yet, according to the U.S Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of self-employed Americans is at an all-time low. In fact, their data show the number of start-up jobs per 1,000 Americans has dropped by nearly 30 percent since the early 1980’s. 

Even more disturbingly, it’s a trend that may be accelerating. Between 1991 and 2010 the percentage of self-employed plummeted by more than 20 percent and during the Great Recession the economy lost over 220,000 small businesses.

None of this unsettling news is a surprise to Cynthia Kocialski, an entrepreneur and author of business books on techniques for launching and growing a start-up company.

“Everyone believes that there are more resources than ever for the entrepreneur interested in starting their own business, and that’s true”, Ms. Kocialski says from the boardroom of her San Francisco office. “But at the same time, capital markets are still very tight, investors are more demanding and fewer people than ever are interested in wading through a business plan, regardless of how compelling the opportunity.” 

However, Ms. Kocialski stresses that success is within reach of today’s entrepreneurs, provided they know how to stand out from the crowd. To start with, she’s suggests “ditching the business plan”.

“Why do entrepreneurs decide they need a business plan?” she asks rhetorically. “It’s because the conventional wisdom tells them that’s the first step in creating a new company. In my experience I’ve seen over and over that the best place to start is with a ‘Concept Plan’ before investing time and effort in a document that will likely be superseded by reality before the printer ink is dry.”

In her just released e-book, ‘Business Plans That Work: Why Some Do and Most Don’t - A Fresh, New Approach to Creating a Thriving Business’ (available May 1, 2013 on Amazon Kindle, $4.99), Ms. Kocialski describes a Concept Plan as “a precursor to a business plan”.  

“Let’s be brutally honest; a ‘day one’ start-up business plan is a mountain of assumptions, what-if scenarios, guesses, estimates -- and very little fact,” she comments. “In contrast, a concept plan starts with the assumptions and organizes and prioritizes them according to what’s most important to the business concept.”

Based on her years reviewing business plans as a business analyst Ms. Kocialski says most entrepreneurs would have been better served by a document “based on direct experience with the product, customers and market, not unproven hypotheses. An un-business plan if you will”, she adds.

“When I first learned to evaluate business proposal, I was taught to ignore the numbers, ignore all the milestones, and focus on the assumptions,” she recalls. “All start-ups are in the experimental business phase, where the startup is an experiment in business. The entrepreneur’s goal should be to discover the right product for the right market -- in short, a viable business.”

Thinking of starting your own business? Ms. Kocialski offers entrepreneurs the following advice on how to make the most of the opportunity by creating a company with the right product for the right market -- in short, building a viable business (summarized from ‘Business Plans That Work: Why Some Do and Most Don’t - A Fresh, New Approach to Creating a Thriving Business’):

How to Make the Concept Plan Principles Work for You

1. First Things First: Begin by selecting your market and then chose your product. Although it’s counterintuitive, most entrepreneurs first decide they want to start a business and then they brainstorm for product ideas and investigating and researching the market. 

2. Focus On the Whole Picture: Many entrepreneurs lose sight of what is needed to prove that their product concept and business idea are viable. The success equation is: business = product + customers + revenue. Often entrepreneurs get caught up on one of these factors and forget the others. 

3. Get Busy Marketing: The first hurdle in a new business is marketing, not developing the product or providing the service. It’s all about creating demand. Don’t wait to start marketing until after the product or service is ready to be offered to the customers. Talk about the ‘why’ of the product. If your product or service solves a problem, talk about the problem. Become the expert on the problem.

4. Become Your First Salesperson: Creating demand is step one, but capturing that demand and turning it into sales is the follow-up. At the beginning, most entrepreneurs believe they will hire a sales superstar. Entrepreneurs need to look themselves in the mirror and say “I am my company’s top sales person. Now what do I need to do to keep myself from firing me?” 

Reviewer downloads of Cynthia Kocialski’s e-book, ‘Business Plans That Work: Why Some Do and Most Don’t - A Fresh, New Approach to Creating a Thriving Business’ (available May 1, 2013 on Amazon Kindle, $4.99) are provided at no cost to editors, reporters, book reviewers and other journalists upon request.

About Cynthia Kocialski
A self-described dyed-in-the-wool entrepreneur, Cynthia Kocialski is the founder of three companies, two of which she “sold to larger competitors”, and is an author and speaker on entrepreneurial coaching. Among Ms. Kocialski’s book titles are ‘Start-Up from the Ground Up’, ‘Out of the Classroom Lessons in Success’, ‘A Simple Sales Guide for Start-Ups’, and ‘Your Company as a Business Experiment’. In addition to speaking at business conferences and consulting with start-ups, she edits and writes on the Start-Up Entrepreneurs’ Blog. Ms. Kocialski holds degrees from the University of Rochester and the University of Virginia and lives in San Francisco, Calif.