New! I’m on Wikipedia. Makes me proud.
I’m about business planning. Pamela Slim, author of best-selling Escape From Cubicle Nation, calls me the Obi-wan Kenobe of business planning. Guy Kawasaki made me his business plan expert in How to Write a Business Plan. Jim Blasingame, the best-known small business radio talk show host, calls me The Father of Business Planning. I’m the official business planning coach at Entrepreneur.com.
I wrote The Plan-as-you-go Business Plan and other books on planning published by Harcourt Brace, McGraw-Hill, and Dow Jones-Irwin. I’m the principal author of Business Plan Pro. I’m also co author of 3 Weeks to Startup, published in 2008 by Entrepreneur Press; and author of Sales and Market Forecasting for Entrepreneurs, published in 2010 by Business Expert Press, and Hurdle: the Book on Business Planning.
I have a Stanford MBA degree, plus an MA in Journalism with honors from the University of Oregon, and a BA in Literature magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame.
I’m also a successful entrepreneur. I’m founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software, founder of bplans.com, and a co-founder of Borland International. I built Palo Alto Software from zero to 40 employees, multimillion dollar sales, no debt, and 70% market share without outside investment.
I’ve seen business plans and business planning from a lot of different viewpoints. I read and review about 50 business plans per year as an investor member of the Willamette Angel Conference (WAC), a local angel investment group. I was investor chair in 2010 and I’m slated to be fund manager in 2012. I’m a frequent judge of business plan competitions including the Rice University Million-Dollar Business Plan Competition and the University of Texas’ Venture Labs Competition, formerly Moot Corp, the superbowl of business plan competitions.
I successfully landed venture capital for Palo Alto Software in 2000, and then bought our investors out again in 2002. They remain friends. I was a consultant to Apple Computer steadily for 14 years of repeat business — consultant, not an employee — doing (among other things) 14 years of annual plans for Apple Latin America, Apple Pacific, and Apple Japan. Apple Latin America grew from $2 million to $37 million annual sales while I was doing its annual business plans, and Apple Japan grew from $187 million to $1.5 billion in annual sales while I was doing its planning (not that my planning was responsible, but at least it didn’t screw it up).
I teach starting a business and business planning. I taught starting a business at the University of Oregon for 11 years. I do a SCORE workshop on business planning every quarter; and I am now doing guest teaching with two Small Business Development Centers. My complete start-and-grow-your business curriculum is now online and available free to other teachers.
I like writing. It reminds me of my first career as a journalist. I was night editor for UPI in Mexico City for three years, and McGraw-Hill World News correspondent for Mexico for five years. I wrote regularly for Business Week and other McGraw-Hill publications, and occasionally for Financial Times and others. I even wrote some published fiction — not counting market research — but it wasn’t very good. I’m now blogging often, on my main blog Planning Startups Stories every week day and also on Amex Open, Small Business Trends, Huffington Post, and Up and Running, among others
I’ve seen startups and small business from multiple views, as founder, consultant, co-founder, and investor. I’ve had the good years and bad years. My wife and I had three mortgages and $65,000 of credit card debt at one very low point, which we survived, but I really don’t recommend. I like to think I’ve never lost track of what’s really important. I’d have to give my wife of 42 years credit for us still being married, three companies, five kids, 5 college educations, 2 graduate degrees, 7 jobs, and I forget how many mortgages later.