I’m a business plan expert. Google “business plan expert” and look past the paid ads. I am the first name in the organic search. And that’s not because I’m paying them. That’s because I’ve been doing business plans for 40 years and writing books, software, blog posts, websites, and articles about business planning for 30 years. My place in the Google search is the result of my body of work.
In business plan software, I’m the principal author of Business Plan Pro, and the main one of several conceptual authors of LivePlan, the web app that replaced Business Plan Pro. More than six million people have used my software to help with their business plans.
Obi-Wan Kenobe of Business Plans
Pamela Slim, author of the best-selling Escape From Cubicle Nation, calls me the Obi-wan Kenobe of business planning and quotes me first as her business plan expert for that book. I’ve written about business planning for more than 10 years for Entrepreneur.com, and also for the U.S. Small Business Administration at SBA.gov.
I’ve written several books on planning. The latest, Lean Business Planning, was first published in 2015 by Motivational Press. Before that one I wrote The Plan-as-you-go Business Plan, published by Entrepreneur Press. And before that, Hurdle: the Book on Business Planning, from the 1990s. 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.
Not just an MBA
I have a Stanford MBA degree, 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. And I’m on Wikipedia as Tim Berry, entrepreneur.
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I’m not just a business plan expert
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 planning from a many different viewpoints. For more than 10 years I read and reviewed 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 investor fund manager in 2013. For a couple of decades I’ve been 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 out our investors in 2002. They and I remain friends. I was a consultant to Apple Computer as business plan expert steadily for 14 years of repeat business. That included 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. 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 things up).
Teaching about business planning
I taught Starting a Business at the University of Oregon for 11 years. I do a SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) workshop on business planning every quarter; and I am now a guest teacher with two Small Business Development Centers. My complete start-and-grow-your business curriculum is online and available free to other teachers. And my online course on lean business planning is available at Learningly.com, hosted by The Economist Group.
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. During those 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’ve been blogging since 2007, on my main blog Planning Startups Stories. And also on bplans.com, Amex Open, Small Business Trends, Huffington Post, and others.
I’ve seen startups and small business from multiple views, as founder, consultant, co-founder, and investor. I’ve had good years and bad ones. At one very low point, my wife and I had three mortgages and $65,000 of credit card debt. We survived that. 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 51 years credit for us still being married after three companies, five kids, 5 college educations, 2 graduate degrees, 7 jobs, and I forget how many mortgages.