Business Planning Leads To Success

Jim Blasingame Tim Berry, President and Founder of Palo Alto Software, has been a frequent guest on my show. He helps me talk with my audience about the importance of a business plan and how to develop one.

Tim and I agree that the reason many business people don't have a plan is because they don't know what one looks like. I know, you've got your plan in your head, right? But you can't manage that information unless it's out of your head, written down, in front of you.

Tim says don't worry about writing whole, finished, perfect paragraphs at first. He says get some thoughts down on paper, or in a word processor file, and then work on it a little each day. Before you know it you've got something that is beginning to look like a plan. Realizing that this is a process will help you developed your plan incrementally. But you have to get started.

I encourage you to start with major plan components as an outline. Here's a sample outline:

Executive Summary,
Company Summary,
Market Analysis,
Operating Plan, and
Financial Plan.

Every plan is different, but use these to get started. Write something down in each section as often as you can; a little every day as you have time. You will find that sometimes the last thing you write will go at the beginning, and you may put the first thing you wrote in the conclusion. So don't worry about order at first. Just start writing.

Tim says a few of the signs that your business needs a plan are: when your business is not going in the direction you want; if you find that the frustration level of your management and employees seems to be high because they don't know where the company is going; when you've lost track of your cashflow; and then there is the old standard, you need to get a loan or attract investment capital. There are many other indicators, but these will give you something to think about.

Do you have a plan? With all of the business planning software available, there really is no excuse for not having at least started one. There is also a lot of help that you can tap into. For example, Tim's company has a great site that has several real plans displayed, and you can see them free. That link is below.

Write this on a rock... Give your company the maximum opportunity to succeed. Build a business plan and then use it!

Tim's sample plans site is at From there you can go to the other Palo Alto Software sites. And be sure to check out Tim's book Hurdle, The Book On Business Planning.

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Category: Business Planning
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