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Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model

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You have a new venture in mind. And you've crafted a business plan so detailed it's a work of art. Don't get too attached to it. As John Mullins and Randy Komisar explain in Getting to Plan B, new businesses are fraught with uncertainty. To succeed, you must change the plan in real time as the inevitable challenges arise. In fact, studies show that entrepreneurs who stick s You have a new venture in mind. And you've crafted a business plan so detailed it's a work of art. Don't get too attached to it. As John Mullins and Randy Komisar explain in Getting to Plan B, new businesses are fraught with uncertainty. To succeed, you must change the plan in real time as the inevitable challenges arise. In fact, studies show that entrepreneurs who stick slavishly to their Plan A stand a greater chance of failing-and that many successful businesses barely resemble their founders' original idea. The authors provide a rigorous process for stress testing your Plan A and determining how to alter it so your business makes money, solves customers' needs, and endures. You'll discover strategies for: -Identifying the leap-of-faith assumptions hidden in your plan -Testing those assumptions and unearthing why the plan might not work -Reconfiguring the five components of your business model-revenue model, gross margin model, operating model, working capital model, and investment model-to create a sounder Plan B. Filled with success stories and cautionary tales, this book offers real cases illustrating the authors' unique process. Whether your idea is for a start-up or a new business unit within your organization, Getting to Plan B contains the road map you need to reach success.


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You have a new venture in mind. And you've crafted a business plan so detailed it's a work of art. Don't get too attached to it. As John Mullins and Randy Komisar explain in Getting to Plan B, new businesses are fraught with uncertainty. To succeed, you must change the plan in real time as the inevitable challenges arise. In fact, studies show that entrepreneurs who stick s You have a new venture in mind. And you've crafted a business plan so detailed it's a work of art. Don't get too attached to it. As John Mullins and Randy Komisar explain in Getting to Plan B, new businesses are fraught with uncertainty. To succeed, you must change the plan in real time as the inevitable challenges arise. In fact, studies show that entrepreneurs who stick slavishly to their Plan A stand a greater chance of failing-and that many successful businesses barely resemble their founders' original idea. The authors provide a rigorous process for stress testing your Plan A and determining how to alter it so your business makes money, solves customers' needs, and endures. You'll discover strategies for: -Identifying the leap-of-faith assumptions hidden in your plan -Testing those assumptions and unearthing why the plan might not work -Reconfiguring the five components of your business model-revenue model, gross margin model, operating model, working capital model, and investment model-to create a sounder Plan B. Filled with success stories and cautionary tales, this book offers real cases illustrating the authors' unique process. Whether your idea is for a start-up or a new business unit within your organization, Getting to Plan B contains the road map you need to reach success.

30 review for Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model

  1. 5 out of 5

    Herve

    It’s the second book I read from Randy Komisar (after the Monk and the Riddle) and I have to admit I preferred his first book even if Getting to Plan B is quite good too. I might have been slightly misled by the title even though the subtitle was quite clear, Breaking Through to a Better Business Model. But it might be I never read seriously subtitles. I thought the book was about what you do when you were wrong first. But it is more subtle. It is not so much about what happens if your idea was It’s the second book I read from Randy Komisar (after the Monk and the Riddle) and I have to admit I preferred his first book even if Getting to Plan B is quite good too. I might have been slightly misled by the title even though the subtitle was quite clear, Breaking Through to a Better Business Model. But it might be I never read seriously subtitles. I thought the book was about what you do when you were wrong first. But it is more subtle. It is not so much about what happens if your idea was not good vs. what about finding a better or valid business model. If it says better, you plan A might have been good enough! The other reason I was not totally convinced comes from my feeling the case studies were chosen to illustrate a theory, a process, a framework, but did not prove it. I had the feeling the same case studies might have been used to illustrate opposite views, but again, who am I to say such things! Mullins and Komisar’s book remains a very good book thanks to a rich variety of cases and lessons. In their preface, the authors say important things. “Entrepreneurship is not easy. [..] they are countless tales of companies that quickly went down in flames. Ultimately [many of them] failed because the economics of their business model didn’t work” [Page viii]. I was a little puzzled because I am not so sure; many companies failed because customers did not buy. But it might be the same! The authors claim “they developed a process and a framework to discover the best business model” [page ix]. Again I am puzzled, I am not sure this exists. But still, they certainly provide interesting tools. One of the most interesting one is the use of analog and antilogs, that I had already mentioned when reviewing Ries’ Lean Start-up. Again For the iPod, the Sony Walkman was an Analog (“people listen to music in a public place using earphones”) and Napster was an Antilog (“although people were willing to download music, they were not willing to pay for it”). Analogs are successful predecessors worth mimicking in some way whereas antilogs are predecessors (whether successful or not) in light of which one explicitely decides to do things differently [Page 14]. But when they claim Apple’s plan B was to transform itself from a struggling PC maker to a consumer electronics powerhouse [page 21] , I find the broadness of the plan B concept really too broad! Then their methodical dashboard is about validating leaps of faith by testing hypotheses. And what is new compared to other important references such as Steve Blank’s customer development is the focus on the business model through 5 elements: revenue, gross margin, operating expenses, working capital and investments. Why plan A won’t work? The authors answer, page 3, by quoting Albert Page: “it takes 58 new product ideas to deliver a single successful new product”. And a few lines below, “figuring out what the customer wants is not easy.” PayPal worked on its plan G! Google’s plan C works. Plan A had no revenue model, plan B was licensing, plan C was advertising. (But remember Google was always a search engine. In terms of product, it was still plan A! That is why I said before I was misled by the title Getting to Plan B) They begin chapter 1 with the following: “Mediocre success – finding a passable business but missing the real potential – is equally problematic. Arguably, it’s worse than missing the target completely because it will tie down your considerable talent in a venture with no real future. You and other entrepreneurs and innovators like you are the lifeblood of today’s economy. And to waste your talent on something mediocre would be a real shame.” Now the book shows that success does not have only one way. The Silverglide case [pages 74-78] shows that an entrepreneur can succeed with $80k for friends and family money whereas I am not even sure how many hundreds of millions Jeff Bezos needed before reaching profitability for Amazon.com [pages 186-192]. Many case studies illustrate how to optimize each of the 5 business models elements [chapters 3-7], whereas chapter 8 shows that you will need to find a balanced solution trying to get the best of these 5 key financial objectives. Amazon.com needed to reach a very large size to make its automated process worthwhile but “great lessons are born from leaps of faith” [page 192]. I fully agree with their final chapter’s early sentence: “As you know by now, this is not a book about business planning. It’s about, in a sense, business discovering. Quoting Eisenhower, “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable” or McArthur: “No plan ever survives its first encounter with the enemy”. So again, the building blocks of the process are: - an identified customer pain and a solution or an opportunity to offer delight, - some relevant analogs and antilogs, - which lead to some as-yet-untested leaps of faith, - which lead to a set of hypotheses to test them, - a dashboard to focus your attention on what’s most important right now and to provide some mid-course corrections, - all comprehensively organized, in just the right sequence, to inform and create the five elements of your business model. [page 208] Does this mean you need a plan B right from the start? The answer [page 212] is nice: “There’s a temptation to think that, since plan A probably won’t work, you should have plan B in your hip pocket. Don’t do it. A contingency plan would probably be just as flawed.” There is clearly in the eraly 21st century a new trend in that business plans may not be a sufficient tool, not to say even necessary. From Randy Komisar, through Eric Ries, to Steve Blank (including my recent account of Cohen’s Winning opportunities), the important element is the discovering process of your business, of your customers in an iterative and flexible manner. This is clearly an important lesson to remember.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amit

    Good book with lots of examples. You can 90% by reading the first couple chapters and skimming the rest. Notes: Your First Plan Probably Will Not Work The research on new products success and failure indicates that it takes fifty-eight new products ideas to deliver a single successful new product. Getting to Plan B is about how to avoid getting stuck in a rut, missing real opportunities, or worse, closing your doors. Running out of cash isn’t a cause; it’s a symptom or a signal that the company’s bus Good book with lots of examples. You can 90% by reading the first couple chapters and skimming the rest. Notes: Your First Plan Probably Will Not Work The research on new products success and failure indicates that it takes fifty-eight new products ideas to deliver a single successful new product. Getting to Plan B is about how to avoid getting stuck in a rut, missing real opportunities, or worse, closing your doors. Running out of cash isn’t a cause; it’s a symptom or a signal that the company’s business model didn’t work. Should outline the five elements in a business model, to determine the economic viability and whether the business is likely to run out of cash or not. The best ideas are those that solve somebody’s pain, some customer problem you’ve identified for which your solution might work. Plans are useless but planning is indispensable. Systematically Develop Business Plans Analogs Predecessor companies that are worth mimicking in some way. They do not have to be in the same industry. For example, two analog companies for the iPod/iTunes would be sony and napster. Sony proved that people would be willing to use personal music players with headphones and napster proved that people were willing to download music. Antilogs Predecessor companies which you explicitly choose to do something different. These companies were probably not successful. For example, the antilog companies for the iTunes were the for-pay music subscription services that existed at the time. Instead of paying a subscription to access a library the the service provider controlled, Apple allowed consumers to purchase a single song and download it to their computers. Leaps of Faith Beliefs you hold about the answer to questions raised by your business plan despite having no real evidence that these beliefs are actually true. These must be tested for validity as quickly and cheaply as possible. Apple's leap of faith was that music listeners would actually pay for their music. Dashboards The process of systematically recording your leaps of faith, the hypotheses that grow out of them, and the results of those hypothesis tests. This allows you a very focused way to see if your business plan is working. Mix and Match To create a successful business plan, mix and match analogs and antilogs. Form leaps of faith and then test them systematically using dashboards.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bartosz Majewski

    Great book that adresses an issue with most business plans - 90% of them never work. And 10% that actually work did not worked like they were planned in the first place. Highly practical. Must read for founders in the startup world but also for anyone that wants to start a business. It's a golden nugget.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jacek Bartczak

    Valuable business books should change the perspective by delivering different insights or frameworks which can interpret the entrepreneurial environment. Most of the frameworks look like "5 steps to earn your 1st million", but that book delivers much more useful framework. The title can also be "How to diagnose which element of your business is a bottle-neck". "Getting to Plan B" includes a wide range of examples of different companies (startups, traditional businesses, corporations, NGOs) which Valuable business books should change the perspective by delivering different insights or frameworks which can interpret the entrepreneurial environment. Most of the frameworks look like "5 steps to earn your 1st million", but that book delivers much more useful framework. The title can also be "How to diagnose which element of your business is a bottle-neck". "Getting to Plan B" includes a wide range of examples of different companies (startups, traditional businesses, corporations, NGOs) which ultimately help recognize what is wrong with a particular business model. That book is a mix of the business experience and academic background. At studies, I had classes "The working's capital management"- it is the first time I wish to have those classes again. Definitely, I should have read it earlier

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jose Papo

    A very good book about how to discover your business model.The most interesting and different idea I found in the book is the one about learning from other companies (actual or historic) to help find and validate your business hypotheses. Learn from successful examples worth mimicking in some way and examples to which you explicitly choose to do things differently

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tobias Taylor

    EASILY THE BEST BUSINESS BOOK I'VE READ. The book is even more useful than its title suggests. Yes, it does cover adapting your business plan when you realise that your original plan was off-course. However, it manages to cover this in the first two chapters. Following on from this we get a model for building the non-product side of your business and both the authors do a great job of enabling the reader to get down to the bones of how their company will sustain itself. They answer questions you EASILY THE BEST BUSINESS BOOK I'VE READ. The book is even more useful than its title suggests. Yes, it does cover adapting your business plan when you realise that your original plan was off-course. However, it manages to cover this in the first two chapters. Following on from this we get a model for building the non-product side of your business and both the authors do a great job of enabling the reader to get down to the bones of how their company will sustain itself. They answer questions you haven’t even asked about stream-lining the efficiency of your company and enabling it to do what it was created to do, better, faster, and with more capital available.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Consie guide for developing a business model which has five elements: Revenue, Gross Margin. Operating, Working Capital, and Investment. Using other businesses as analogs and antilogs by way of case studies may be a helpful way for start-up entrepreneurs to grasp the concept of testing assumptions early on before going down a path solely based on a leap of faith. This book will be a welcome supplement to an entrepreneurs workshop I conduct. Overall a useful business planning book for start-ups a Consie guide for developing a business model which has five elements: Revenue, Gross Margin. Operating, Working Capital, and Investment. Using other businesses as analogs and antilogs by way of case studies may be a helpful way for start-up entrepreneurs to grasp the concept of testing assumptions early on before going down a path solely based on a leap of faith. This book will be a welcome supplement to an entrepreneurs workshop I conduct. Overall a useful business planning book for start-ups and people interested in entrepreneurship.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    While some of the stories and financial data are dated, that is not the fault of the authors. The concepts presented in this book along with the action steps are concepts I wish I had known when I started my business journey. I had the fortune of seeing some of these concepts in action at my former employer and now see the value. For those starting their entrepreneurial journey, take the time and learn about analogs, antilogs, leaps of faith, and dashboards. It may just lower your stress level.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Danny Iny

    Every new business comes with a business plan, and authors John Mullins and Randy Komisar assert that the original business plan is rarely the right one. Getting to Plan B teaches a systematic way to test your Plan A and iterate it--so you can find your winning business model before you run out of cash. This book will show you how to use analogs, antilogs, and leaps of faith to discover the most profitable business model.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra Zhang

    An excellent read on breaking through to a better business model - highly recommended! There are loads of learnings on using analogs, antilogs, leaps of faith and dashboarding to help anyone refine Plan A/creating Plan B.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Navid Baharlooie

    It’s a great book if you’re new to startups and need some frameworks for stress testing your ideas and assumptions, or if you need an introduction to the key financial drives in every business model.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marvin Musfiq

    Definitely a second thought provoking book. This book compel you to think twice about your "perfectly written business plan'. A must read for entrepreneur who are seeking startup funding.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Franco Arda

    Ordering this book was a no-brainer. Every (would be) entrepreneur who has enjoyed reading Randy's ,Goodbye Carrier, Hello Success` knows Randy`s wisdom for entrepreneurs. It'd call him the ,Zen Entrepreneur` for his enlightement and razor sharp thinking (for a taste, check out Youtube ,the biggest successes are often bred from failures). The book is about a rarely covered topic: Getting to plan B (if necessary to Z). If the founders of Google, PayPal or Starbucks had stuck to their original plan, Ordering this book was a no-brainer. Every (would be) entrepreneur who has enjoyed reading Randy's ,Goodbye Carrier, Hello Success` knows Randy`s wisdom for entrepreneurs. It'd call him the ,Zen Entrepreneur` for his enlightement and razor sharp thinking (for a taste, check out Youtube ,the biggest successes are often bred from failures). The book is about a rarely covered topic: Getting to plan B (if necessary to Z). If the founders of Google, PayPal or Starbucks had stuck to their original plan, we might have never heard of them. PayPal's plan A didn't work. Neither did B, C, D, E nor F. Plan G stroke gold. This is not a book about ,business planning`. It's a book about, in a sense, ,business discovering`. Getting to Plan B is a structured process of discovering, over time, a fluid pattern among the five business model* elements that, working together, will make the economics work (provided the business model is sound), so you don't run out of money along the way. *revenue model, gross margin model, operating model, working capital model & investment model. Randy & John, thank you very much for sharing your knowledge & wisdom with us.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Franco Arda

    Ordering this book was a no-brainer. Every (would be) entrepreneur who has enjoyed reading Randy's ,Goodbye Carrier, Hello Success` knows Randy`s wisdom for entrepreneurs. It'd call him the ,Zen Entrepreneur` for his enlightement and razor sharp thinking (for a taste, check out Youtube ,the biggest successes are often bred from failures). The book is about a rarely covered topic: Getting to plan B (if necessary to Z). If the founders of Google, PayPal or Starbucks had stuck to their original plan, Ordering this book was a no-brainer. Every (would be) entrepreneur who has enjoyed reading Randy's ,Goodbye Carrier, Hello Success` knows Randy`s wisdom for entrepreneurs. It'd call him the ,Zen Entrepreneur` for his enlightement and razor sharp thinking (for a taste, check out Youtube ,the biggest successes are often bred from failures). The book is about a rarely covered topic: Getting to plan B (if necessary to Z). If the founders of Google, PayPal or Starbucks had stuck to their original plan, we might have never heard of them. PayPal's plan A didn't work. Neither did B, C, D, E nor F. Plan G stroke gold. This is not a book about ,business planning`. It's a book about, in a sense, ,business discovering`. Getting to Plan B is a structured process of discovering, over time, a fluid pattern among the five business model* elements that, working together, will make the economics work (provided the business model is sound), so you don't run out of money along the way. *revenue model, gross margin model, operating model, working capital model & investment model. Randy & John, thank you very much for sharing your knowledge & wisdom with us.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nithya Nagarathinam

    Not for one sitting. I wonder if there is a point beyond which we become too impatient for books styled like lectures, albeit with tons of case studies. Two chapters through, I have shelved it for now. This book is, on the whole, a good compilation of case studies, categorized as analogs and antilogs, with valuable, though not breakthrough, insights for early stage entrepreneurs. Be that as it may, all of us, not only entrepreneurs have made plans and hence must have got to a Plan B at some point Not for one sitting. I wonder if there is a point beyond which we become too impatient for books styled like lectures, albeit with tons of case studies. Two chapters through, I have shelved it for now. This book is, on the whole, a good compilation of case studies, categorized as analogs and antilogs, with valuable, though not breakthrough, insights for early stage entrepreneurs. Be that as it may, all of us, not only entrepreneurs have made plans and hence must have got to a Plan B at some point. This book could teach us to critically examine and move from Plan A to Plan B in a structured format. The first first two chapters attempt to give the reader a hang of the basic idea. The rest of the book is full of specific lessons from specific cases.

  16. 4 out of 5

    DT

    Like most business books, not too long. A very high-level summary of one way to think about a business model. It seems pretty practical to me; the most interesting parts are the examples given of different companies (Toyota, eBay, Zara, etc...) and how they solved some problem in their business model.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Excellent guide for any entrepreneur, whether he or she is looking to improve an existing business plan or creating a new, viable one. Very practical advice and includes plenty of illuminating examples.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    I would recommend this book to aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly those without a background in business or accounting, as an overview to the concept of iteration. For further exploration on iteration, I would also recommend work by Steve Blank and Eric Ries.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Wade Brooks

    Core reading for entrepreneurs. I just re-read it in prep. for teaching a class.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Steen Sørensen

    A need to read book for all managers

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lloyd Jong

    Very important book for anyone on the verge to start a business or who wonder what is the next move to make! A must read

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aleksei

    Business models 101. Great source of success stories of companies from around the world.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karen Catlin

    Kindle

  24. 4 out of 5

    Darko

    very basic, repetitive, misleading title, worn-out business examples. did like the idea about working capital, though.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lori Grant

    A should-read book on business models for knowledge workers who want to be in executive role and entrepreneurs.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Bradley

    Excellent book and presents an interesting strategy for creating business models. Well written, useful, and engaging.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lanre Dahunsi

    On Point.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Robert Bailey

    Top 10

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Miller

    unreasonably recommended

  30. 5 out of 5

    Christanto Leonardo

    Surprisingly this book is very hard to find. Great book for startup.

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