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Q&A: Keep Your Business Plan Simple and Short

I received this question on my ask-me form at

I have a question about writing a business plan for my [business]. How do I write a business plan reflecting very little start up costs and a loss so far? I have been putting off writing a business plan, but I feel as if I need to set specific goals in writing to strive for.  Most of the business plans seem so complicated for my very small business. Since I am trying to keep my costs very low, I’m wondering if it’s worth paying the monthly fee to create a plan or there another more economical (free) option?  Thank you for your time.

My answer:

Questions ask Tim Berry

Thanks, I’m glad you asked. Coincidentally, I just posted Business Plan Yes, But Comprehensive and Detailed, Not So Much earlier this week. But I’m happy to go over this again because it’s so important for real businesses to plan, but the myth of the big formal business plan so often gets in the way. What a shame.

That’s what my last book, The Plan-as-you-go Business Plan, was about:

  • The plan is for you, to help you manage, to set specific milestones and manage results with plan vs. actual analysis.
  • It’s a collection of modules. Simple strategy summary, milestones, basic numbers, and so forth. Start anywhere. Get going.
  • You do only what you need, just before you need it. Only what you’re going to use.
  • Let it grow organically.
  • When you have the business plan event, which means you need to show it to somebody outside your business, then you dress it up. Keep it on your computer until you have to print it.
And regarding that monthly fee question, I have two points:
  1. I’m biased. You’re talking about LivePlan, published by Palo Alto Software. I’m the conceptual author. I believe everybody should be using it.
  2. Does “keeping your costs low” mean you want to save $20 a month on a planning tool that makes the planning easier, simpler, and better? How much is your time worth? How many hours do you want to spend to save $20 per month?



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