People: Business PLANNING Is Much Different Than A Business Plan


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I was happy to see Guy Kawasaki’s The Key to Attracting Investors yesterday morning on Amex OPEN Forum. I do know that Guy understands business planning and its place in management (he interviewed me about it in this post, for example).

But he also scoffs at the misuse of business plans and the cult of the business plan document. He’s right about that too, but people don’t always understand it’s the misuse and the cult that causes the problem, not the planning.  Here’s his key quote in yesterday’s piece:

“You should not focus on a business plan, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do business planning.”

Yes. And he goes on:

“Planning you need to do; that is, think about what your customers need (maybe they can’t even articulate it—that’s when the vision thing comes in), how you can serve these needs, what kind of people you want to hire, and how to finish your product and get it to market.”

And this…

“One of the most valuable outcomes of business planning is getting your team on the same page. You’d be amazed at how founders differ on what’s really happening and what’s really important.”

And finally, the reminder: It’s about the business, and the business planning, not the plan document:

“Just so you don’t make yourself crazy trying to create the War and Peace of business plans, these are the sections that you need: Executive Summary, Problem, Solution, Business Model, Underlying Magic, Marketing and Sales, Competition, Team, Projections, Status and Timeline, and Conclusion. All of this should add up to less than 20 pages.”

I couldn’t agree more. And I think I’ve been pretty clear on that on this blog: planning, not plan; and plan as you go.

Tim Berry is president and founder of Palo Alto Software, founder of, and a co-founder of Borland International.  This post was originally published at his blog, Planning Startups Stories, and is republished here with permission.

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