Tim Berry Takes Surprising (and Practical) Approach to Business Planning

Tim Berry, Mr. Business PlanTim Berry, who contributes here at Small Business Trends, was my guest earlier this week on Small Business Trends Radio.  The topic of the show was business planning.

Tim is an expert in business planning, having founded Palo Alto Software, the makers of Business Plan Pro software.  He also founded BPlans.com, an excellent resource for free business planning advice and tools.

Interestingly, for a guy who easily could be dubbed “Mr. Business Plan,” Tim takes a fluid and highly practical approach to business planning: 

Plans are not a straitjacket — and a plan doesn’t mean that what you planned to do in June 2008 – you actually have to do in June 2008. It simply helps you to maintain a long term direction while managing constant short term changes.

If you were expecting a rigid my-way-or-the-highway approach to creating a business plan, you won’t hear it.  More to the point, Tim knows first hand what it is like to be in the thick of that maelstrom we call “running a small business.”  He recognizes that if a process like business planning isn’t practical and realistic, chances are it won’t get done.

We also spent some time in the interview discussing how Tim has transferred the CEO job at Palo Alto Software to his daughter, freeing up Tim for the role of public spokesperson.  As he points out, that’s a role he rarely had time for when he was running the company day to day.   And you’ll also learn how Tim started his career.  Hint: it involved another country and it had nothing to do with business plans or software.

Listen to Tim’s interview by clicking on the player below.  Or, if you jump over to the radio site you can read the detailed show notes from Tim Berry’s interview that Staci Wood, our Program Manager for the radio show, put together. 


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

2 Reactions
  1. Hi Tim and Anita,

    Great interview, I think it really helps to eliminate a lot of misconceptions about what a business plan is and isn’t. I think a lot of people spend way to much time making their business plan look like it’s “supposed to” without actually thinking about what’s best for their company. I can’t agree more about keeping a fluid and oft-referred to business plan.

    What platforms do you recommend keeping such fluid and shared a document on? The typical word file on a shared drive, or would a wiki be appropriate? I’m very curious to see what you think is best.

    Thanks for putting together the interview,

    – Mason

  2. Thanks for the great article. I would like to add that business owners need to be conscious of correctly prioritizing tasks in support of a good business plan. Brian Tracy’s “Eat That Frog” offers an excellent approach the subject.

    Ilya Bodner

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