Every Publisher Needs a Business Plan — All the Time!

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“Help! What can I do with lots of slow moving inventory?  Our declining revenues are not able to cover our monthly expenses!” “Our cash may run out in 4 to 5 months!”

MAI recently received these two urgent requests for help from two separate Christian publishers. These publishers serve in different regions but are both beset with a distinct set of difficult challenges. The boards of trustees of both houses required their respective CEO’s to come up with a “business plan.”

Business plans are usually required by venture capitalists so they can properly evaluate investment opportunities in start-up “for-profit” enterprises. However, clearly stated and thoughtfully prepared business strategy plans are much needed, even by ministry-oriented Christian publishing houses. Indeed, failing to plan is planning to fail.

The boards are likely considering the need for a fresh infusion of working capital to help tide the publishing firms over the hump. Thus, their requirement to develop a business plan.

I created a simplified template that any publisher could complete. It outlines a clear objective, an executive summary, analysis of the publishing house’s current challenges, a description of the market, and a financial plan.  Please see the Simple Business Plan Template for your use.

In addition to a business plan, firms must also discuss the actual publishing plans for the next 12 to 24 months: 1) the new titles, 2) how to maximize the bestsellers, and 3) how to sell out the slow moving titles (including, perhaps, a plan how to give them away!). Why focus on these three? They significantly affect the financial health of the company.

It goes without saying that filling in the columns of these spreadsheets would entail a lot of discussions, research and analysis. The nice thing about spreadsheets is that you can add more columns and insert anything relevant in your planning, implementation and monitoring.

Business strategy plans should be part and parcel of every Christian publisher’s year-round operations.

Email me at [email protected] if you’d like any of these sample spreadsheets:
1. 2-year publishing plan
2. bestseller marketing plan
3. slow-moving titles plan

What planning and measuring tools are you using to help you accomplish your mission and vision?

— Ramon Rocha III, MAI director of publisher development

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