Tim Berry

Founder and Chairman

Tim Berry is the founder of Palo Alto Software , a co-founder of Borland International, and a recognized expert in business planning. Tim is the originator of Lean Business Planning. He has an MBA from Stanford and degrees with honors from the University of Oregon and the University of Notre Dame. Today, Tim dedicates most of his time to blogging, teaching and evangelizing for business planning. His full biography is available on his blog. You can follow Tim on Google+.

Recent Articles Published by Tim Berry

planning

The Management Magic of Business Planning

True story: As my software business began to grow, as we went from two employees to five, then 10, I discovered how hard real management is with startups and small business that grow organically. In a startup, those first few people who join feel like friends, not employees. What they taught in my MBA courses... Read more »

planning

Should You Stick to the Plan or Change It?

The monthly review meeting is absolutely essential to real business planning. The real value of business planning is the decisions it causes, and the management that results; and for that you need not just a plan but a regular monthly review to track results and revise as necessary. And the toughest part of the review... Read more »

planning

How to Use Your Business Plan to Track Your Progress and Exceed Your Goals

My favorite quote on business planning is when former president Dwight D. Eisenhower said: “The plan is useless; but planning is essential.” What I’ve always taken from that is the importance of keeping a plan live; reviewing it, and revising it. The core concept of my work on lean business planning is that cycle: plan-run-review-revise. One... Read more »

starting

Choosing Your Business Name

When choosing a name for your new company, you’re going to be concerned with finding the name that best suits your business, and making sure you pick a name you can legally use and protect. The two main concerns for startup business names are the legal requirements, and the commercial use. Now, in terms of... Read more »

planning

How to Forecast Sales

First, allow me to deal with a very common problem: Business owners are often afraid to forecast sales. But, you shouldn’t be. Don’t think there is some magic right answer that you don’t know. Don’t think that it’s a matter of training you don’t have. It doesn’t take spreadsheet modeling, much less econometric modeling, to... Read more »

starting

What Is a Break-Even Analysis?

The break-even analysis lets you determine what you need to sell, monthly or annually, to cover your costs of doing business—your break-even point. Illustration 1 shows the break-even analysis table: Illustration 1: Break-even analysis The break-even analysis table calculates a break-even point based on fixed costs, variable costs per unit of sales, and revenue per... Read more »

starting

Know Your Industry Before You Start Your Business

Take a second to get into context here. If your plan is a plan to be presented to outsiders, then you need to explain the type of business you’re in. You’ll be expected to explain the general state of your industry and the nature of the business, especially if your plan is going outside your... Read more »

planning

How to Forecast Cash Flow

  A good cash flow analysis might be the most important single piece of a business plan. All the strategy, tactics, and ongoing business activities mean nothing if there isn’t enough money to pay the bills. And that’s what a cash flow projection is about—predicting your money needs in advance. By cash, we mean money you... Read more »

managing

Strategy Is Useless Without Tactics

It happens all the time. You take your team away from the routine for a few hours, brainstorm, and develop a brilliant new strategy. And when you all get back into the routine, the routine wins and strategy loses. Nothing changes. The strategy was brilliant on the whiteboard, but never got to the real world.... Read more »

planning

How to Create an Expense Budget

An expense budget is part of the bread-and-butter basics of good management. Set your budget as a goal, then review and revise often to stay on track. Being right on budget is usually good, but good management takes the regular review to check on the timing, efficiency, and results of what your business spends. For... Read more »

planning

The Different Types of Business Plans

Different situations call for different types of business plans. This is our guide to the most common types of business plans and how to use them. Read more »

planning

An Overview of Lean Business Planning

A lean business plan does what every business owner and aspiring startup needs to manage strategy, tactics, execution, and essential business numbers. It exists for internal management, not for outsiders. It stays lean and simple with just bullet points for essentials and a collection of lists and tables. It should be reviewed and revised at... Read more »

planning

What Makes a Business Plan More than Just Strategy and Wishful Thinking?

What’s the value of a business plan? Decisions. Action. How do you build decisions and action into your business plan? Milestones. What makes a business plan more than just strategy and wishful thinking? Milestones. Milestones are concrete, specific achievements, such as a product launch, some number of customers, opening of a new location, number of... Read more »

starting

How to Develop Your Business Strategy

I love the Michael Porter quote here because it’s so true, and more so the more you dig down into the front lines of real business, such as small business and startups. Strategy is what you’re not doing. My favorite metaphor is the sculptor with a block of marble—the art is what he chips off... Read more »

starting

Practical Market Research Resources for Entrepreneurs

Most every organization will benefit from even the most elementary market research. If it does not provide new information, it will confirm what is known. What is market research? Market research is the process of gaining information about your market. Preferably, this is specific information about your target market and the key factors that influence... Read more »

funding

30 Questions Angel Investors Will Ask You

When you pitch a startup to angel investors, you want to get questions. If you don’t get questions then your pitch fell flat and nobody is interested. So plan on answering questions—and hope you have some to answer! Embrace interruptions Most of the business plan competitions I judge ask the judges to listen quietly for... Read more »

funding

10 Things the Bank Will Ask When You Need a Business Loan

That bank loan you want for your company? Well, the bank is going to want a lot before they give it to you. Do you find this daunting? Me too. I was really disappointed when I needed my company’s first commercial bank loan to finance receivables of more than $1 million—from well-known distributors no less—and we... Read more »

funding

Business Pitch, Elevator Pitch, and the LivePlan Pitch: What’s the Difference?

What’s a business pitch? Clearly that depends on who you ask and what they’re thinking about when you ask. It might be a slide deck, or a 20-minute presentation livened by a slide deck, or a short talk, or even a strategy summary. Either way, it’s confusing and I’d like to help clear it up. Here’s... Read more »

planning

What Type of Business Plan Do I Need?

We get this question a lot, mainly because there are so many different things labelled as business plans: strategic plans, annual plans, operational plans, feasibility plans, and, of course, what most people think of, business plans for startups seeking investment. And also, what real business owners want—lean business plans for better management. In this article,... Read more »

funding

What Do Venture Capital Firms Want?

What do venture capitalists want in an investment? If you have to ask, then you (and your business) are probably not a good candidate. And—just in case you don’t recognize it—that’s a reference to an old joke: When someone asks a Ferrari salesman how much it costs, the salesman answers, “If you have to ask,... Read more »