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Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model [Kindle Edition]

John Mullins , Randy Komisar
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews


“ is both a handbook for those already on the way to building a successful business as well as encouraging others to think they could do it.” - The Financial Times, September 30, 2009


“ is both a handbook for those already on the way to building a successful business as well as encouraging others to think they could do it.” - The Financial Times, September 30, 2009

Product Details

  • File Size: 812 KB
  • Print Length: 271 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1422126692
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (September 8, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004OC07HQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,197 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
73 of 75 people found the following review helpful
The book, written by John Mullins and Randy Komisar, contains several important lessons, primarily for start-up entrepreneurs, on developing successful business models. Though very repetitive around a few key ideas, the book is well worth reading especially for those who want to better understand how the business model is reflected in the different financial statements. with interesting examples from: Amazon, Apple, Celtel, Costco, Dow Jones & Company, eBay, GlobalGiving, GO airlines, Google, Oberoi Hotels, Pantaloon, Patagonia, Ryanair, Shanda, Silverglide, Skype, Southwest Airlines, Toyota, Walmart, Zara and ZoomSystems.

The book in three bullet points:

* The business model concept is in the book defined as the pattern of economic activity comprising of five key elements that together determines the viability of any business. The five key elements being the revenue model, the gross margin model, the operating model, the working capital model and the investment model. Companies are successful when the five elements work together.

* Getting to Plan B is about the process of discovering a business model that works, with the assumption that the initial plan is most often wrong. The discovering process can be made systematic by constantly formulating different hypothesis and measurements and continuously follow up and iterate the business model into a new Plan B.

* The starting point for a new business model is to learn from successful examples worth mimicking in some way and examples to which you explicitly choose to do things differently, where the ultimate judge is the customers and the cash flow generated from your business model.

A brief summary of the different chapters:

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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Academic, Fails to Deliver October 17, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'd like to start with the conclusion, get yourself "The Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development" by Brant Cooper and "The Four Steps to the Epiphany" by Steve Blank, those two books will give you a real step-by-step guide to building a company. Now for the actual review.

This book is a collection of stories in the style of "Founders at Work" or "Art of the Start" or any one of the other Startup Genre books. And as such, it is interesting to read the authors analyses from an academic stand point, hence 2 starts, but it offers little advice for someone starting a company.

However, as a guide for building a business, this book can be summed up as follows:

Your first idea will fail, plan on it failing but you need to start somewhere, so get going and look for opportunities to change course or pivot in the startup parlance.

It's an important notion that has been covered on numerous blogs and in great depth, which you can read for free, without paying money for the book; just do an online search for "startup pivot" and you will find plenty of examples by industry veterans.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
It takes an average of 58 new product ideas to deliver a single successful new product. That is the core message of Getting to Plan B, a new book by John Mullins and Randy Komisar.

Since Plan A almost never works, it is critical to quickly learn from failure and move on to a successful Plan B (or C or D or E...). This book provides an exceptionally helpful framework for how to do this. Its power lies in its analytical framework combined with vivid examples from companies - including both for-profit and non-profit.

Contrary to popular perception, most successful businesses did not strike it rich from the beginning. A company like eBay, profitable from day one, is the exception that proves the rule (and Pierre Omidyar has said that he realizes how lucky he was). Even eBay has struggled to figure out how to make money from new business lines such as Skype. Google would not be the behemoth it is today - and might even be out of business -- if it had not discovered its own Plan B, paid Adwords. Amazon burned through hundreds of millions of dollars before it hit upon the right business model that made it profitable. Today, the jury is out on whether Twitter and even Facebook will find profitable Plan Bs that sustain their early growth.

What matters most is not the quality of the initial business plan, but instead the ability of the team to iterate successive business plans as a means to finding what works. Merely flailing about from Plan A to B to C increases the chance you will run out of cash before finding the right Plan. So the trick is to experiment quickly but intelligently, and with discipline. That is what this book helps you do.

Anyone who is thinking about starting a new business should read this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Model January 15, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a Professor of Entrepreneurship I have been a big believer in Randy Komisar. His book, The Monk and the Riddle has inspired hundreds of my students.

Much to my surprise, this is a very different book. Most new venture planning and strategy books remind you of doctoral dissertations--moving bones from one grave to the other. There is nothing new.

This is different. It challenges you to delve deeper into a venture (new or growing). What can you learn from other companies experiences. Mix and match what you learn. Figure out what you don't know and develop tests to learn.

This book is also the best I have seen in blending its unique approach to the business model--revenue, gross margin, etc. It shows how the components work together to create a sustainable business. Its examples are stimulating.

The answer to the riddle in this book is hard work and creative research and continual learning. There are no eggs.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommend for start up and for growing revenue.
As a retired co-founder of a design and manufacture business who just read Plab B, I would have benefitted from it not only at start-up but as our growth slowed. Read more
Published 1 month ago by John Neumann
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect. Just what I wanted
Perfect. Just what I wanted.
Published 8 months ago by LoAnn Raftevold
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 8 months ago by merlyn krause
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it
OK book
Published 8 months ago by Al Faruq
5.0 out of 5 stars I'd recommend it as a must read for any entrepreneur or ...
This book is outstanding. I'd recommend it as a must read for any entrepreneur or accelerator program. The wisdom in this book underpins much of the teachings in The Lean Startup. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Daniel E Ripoll
5.0 out of 5 stars The iterative model is the only way to go
The basic premise of this book is to understand that getting to a successful business venture will involve having an initial idea but then testing it at every step and realizing... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Joshua Tibbetts
5.0 out of 5 stars How to be flexible in your business planning
Great book. Really helped me to understand that sometimes your first approach is only a step along the way to a much better business plan. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Ross Dorothy
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Changing!
Very helpful for businesses on every level. A must read if you own a business or are starting a business or project, Life Changing!
Published 18 months ago by Satya
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for ventures new and not so new!
I found this book very helpful, and found myself wishing I had read it a year ago when I started my company! Read more
Published 20 months ago by Sophie E
2.0 out of 5 stars Redundant
Good book for undergraduate studies I suppose. Just felt I had read the material before, therefore I didn't learn much from the material.
Published 23 months ago by Bruce Kelly
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More About the Author

John Mullins is an Associate Professor of Management Practice in Entrepreneurship and Marketing at the London Business School. He earned his MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. An award-winning teacher and scholar, John brings to his teaching and research 20 years of executive experience in high-growth retailing firms including two ventures he founded and one he took public.

Since becoming a business school professor in 1992, John has published four books, numerous cases and more than 40 articles in a variety of outlets, including Harvard Business Review, the MIT Sloan Management Review, and The Wall Street Journal. His research has won national and international awards from the Marketing Science Institute, the American Marketing Association, and the Richard D. Irwin Foundation. He is a frequent speaker to audiences in entrepreneurship and venture capital.

John's trade book, The New Business Road Test: What Entrepreneurs and Executives Should Do Before Writing a Business Plan (3e, London: Prentice-Hall/FT 2010), is the definitive work on the assessment and shaping of market opportunities. His newest book, the critically acclaimed Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model (Boston: Harvard Business Press 2009), co-authored with Randy Komisar, a partner at the esteemed venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in California, was named to "Best Books of 2009" lists by BusinessWeek and INC Magazine.

John has consulted with and done executive education on five continents for a variety of organizations both large and small, including Endeavor, Kenya Airways, Merck-Serono, Time Warner Communications, the European and African Venture Capital Associations, Pumpkin Ltd., the Young Presidents Organization, and the International Finance Corporation of The World Bank, among numerous others. He has served on the boards of fast-growing entrepreneurial companies in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, and Asia.


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