3 Common Business Planning Questions

Business planning expert Tim Berry answers three common questions he gets: Why write a business plan? What ’s most often misunderstood about business planning? Why do I recommend Business Plan Pro for business planning? Duration: 4:12

In Series: Ask Tim Berry

  1. What Sort of Plan Do You Need?
  2. 3 Common Business Planning Questions
  3. How Do I Start A Sales Forecast?
  4. The Elevator Pitch
  5. All Business Plans Are Wrong
  6. Are Business Plans Just For Investors?

« Back to all videos


Why plan? It seems obvious to me, but people ask that. I'll leave out because you need investment if you do or because you're going to the bank seeking a loan because people know why those cases. But I think the most important answer to that question is for the rest of us who aren't seeking investment or going to the bank, but who want to plan our business better. Why a business plan? Well, why a trip plan? Why a game plan?

To do it better. To have a route. To have a direction. Your business plan essentially sets your goals. It defines success. And if you do it right, it sets down the steps toward those goals and some budgets and task responsibilities. And you do it because it's easier to do if you break it up into steps and set it down than if you try to keep it in your head. You do it because it helps you manage your business better. Question: What's the most misunderstood thing about business planning in general? Answer: I'm sure of this. It's that form follows function.

People way too often think a business plan is that big formal document that people fear. In fact, that doesn't have to be. Most of the companies that can benefit from a business plan and business planning don't actually need to have the 20-, 30-, 50-page document coil bound at Kinko's and edited and formatted. Most of us just do enough to run our business better. We keep it in bullet points. We keep it on the computer. We're not describing our business for others; we're helping our own team remember what's success to us, what are our objectives, who's doing what, and what are the steps, the dates that are important, the deadlines that are important.

What's our sales forecast, what are our expense budgets? Form follows function in that you plan as you go. It's going to change. You're going to be reviewing and revising. A business plan is a living document. It's not something that was printed out once. It's there on your computer. You're going to meet to review it once a month, and that's going to give you better management for your company. So that's the most misunderstood part of business planning in my opinion.

Why Business Plan Pro? Because it's an excellent tool. People often misunderstand that this is a tool to help you do whatever business planning works best for you in your situation and your business. If you need the full formal business plan, Business Plan Pro will help you with that step by step — mechanics, formatting, get it printed out, and solve that need. But what's more frequently misunderstood is it can be just as effective for someone who doesn't need the full formal business plan but simply wants to plan the business better.

You may not need the whole thing, but Business Plan Pro has setup and wizards and do you need the full worksheets or full outline or are you going to do a plan that's like strategy, milestones, sales forecast, expense budget, who does what, what are the steps, and when are we going to review it. It might live on your computer forever and be reviewed and revised every month. That's the real core of business planning, and Business Plan Pro in that wants to help you do the business planning that you need. It's not my plan or our plan or the software's plan. It's our plan and it's a tool for the mechanics and the function to do that better.

Looking for training videos on Business Plan Pro?
Visit our videos on our company site.

Get the Bplans newsletter:

Expert business tips and advice delivered weekly.