"The Fourth Moon: A Step-by-Step Process for Sustainable Business Success" provides a 4-step process to businesses who struggle with implementing & maintaining business plans.
The Issue: Business Planning Doesn’t Mean Business Success
“The Fourth Moon: A Step-by-Step Process for Sustainable Success” was written as a solution to the common, yet often unspoken problem of business plan failure. Even though there are many incredible books and consultants out there that provide advice on how to plan a business, many businesses (often with good plans) still fail.
Is it a problem with the way we plan a business or how we implement it?
Darren K. Bourke, consultant and author, suggests that most of the answer lies in the second part of the question, how we implement and maintain the plan we have.
Most books, however, spend the majority of their content on one aspect of business planning, either the plan itself or the implementation. Bourke says you need to consider both and offers his own solution in “The Fourth Moon”.
The Solution: If You Want Business Success, Plan for the — Moons?
Bourke uses an interesting analogy to help readers understand his 4-step process for decreasing business plan failure: moons and Galileo. Specifically, Galileo’s discovery of four moons orbiting the planet Jupiter (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.) Bourke says that the characteristics that led to Galileo’s discovery of these moons (particularly in a time when challenging the status quo was dangerous) can help businesses improve their strategies. In addition to Galileo’s characteristics, “The Fourth Moon” also states that some of the physical qualities of the four moons themselves can offer insight as well.
To bring this concept back down to Earth, the author tells the story of an IT consulting business (a fictional account of a real business) that is on the verge of a breakdown. It is doing fine by appearances, but lack of organization and dwindling employee morale are destroying the company from the inside out.
Bourke is called in to help this business and leads readers through the process as an outside observer to the consulting process between he and Tom, the owner of the company.
The Lesson: Your Plans Should Be Lived Through Your Strategy
Through the extended case study of a failing IT consulting business, Bourke provides his assessment of why businesses fail to be great. Businesses, Bourke suggests, have no problem planning for success. The problem is implementing and maintaining it. The failed IT consulting business used in the case study began with one employee who began moonlighting in his spare time. It grew to become a profitable IT consulting business.
The author suggests that the owner of the IT consulting business (and by extension, readers) reflect and reassess how they plan for business. Most companies stick to annual performance reviews and balance sheets to plan and monitor the health of their business. Relying just on these documents can be a grave error because they don’t tell the full story.
A business is more than a balance sheet or cash flow report. It involves employees, customers, suppliers and more to survive. Owners should take into consideration their relationship with all of their internal and external connections to ensure that their business is growing. Bourke suggest that businesses implement a “Mission Plan” coupled with regular check-ins and accountability to ensure that the business plan is actually moving forward.
The Critique: Should Businesses Aim For the Stars While Planning Their Business?
“The Fourth Moon” is best suited for two groups of people:
- Solopreneurs and small business owners wanting to get a handle on their business plan for greater efficiency, and
- Any businesses facing declining employee morale or service delivery.
“The Fourth Moon” provides experienced insight gained from Bourke’s many years in consulting. His story reflects a deep understanding of the obstacles facing businesses (particularly one-man businesses who branch out to small businesses), because he was in the same situation himself.
That insight, however, may not fulfill the book’s promise to help all readers drastically improve their profits easily with his four-step process. The case study in the book gets amazing results, but does this single case study translate to everyone else in real life?
This is where “ The Fourth Moon” struggles. In focusing solely on one case study, it sidesteps many of the variables and issues faced by the very audience who needs that particular kind of help.
Still, this book provides a great mental model and outline for looking at business planning. It won’t provide all of the guidance you need, but it will help you with the mental shift necessary to make a change.
Bourke encourages readers to focus back on efficiency, accountability and maintenance instead of getting nailed down to the technical aspects of planning. He provides an outline for businesses to address basic questions that need to be asked again and again by solopreneurs and small business owners.
- Who are our customers?
- What do our customers like about our business?
- Why do we charge our customers what we do?
Whether this leads to a profit of $1 or $1 million is up to a multitude of factors, but it all begins by asking those questions.
About The Author
Darren K. Bourke is a former accountant who became a business consultant and coach. More information about him and about his book can be found at his website and on Twitter (@DarrenKBourke). His book will be available on March 24, 2015. This review was based on an electronic copy of the book made available for reviewing purposes.