The plan-as-you-go business plan is not your formal, traditional business plan. You don’t fill in a checklist or cover all the bases as defined by some recipe somewhere. It’s about planning and running a business in the real world, this millennium, whether you are going to show some big plan document to somebody else or not. This chapter covers the attitude adjustment involved in this new approach to planning. The following table outlines the main sections of this chapter.

Start Anywhere. Get going.
Start with concepts, start with numbers, start with whatever suits you. It doesn’t matter. Do something today that you can use tomorrow.

Form Follows Function
Your plan is not necessarily a document. It’s what’s going to happen. Think it, speak it, write it out simply in bullets, or use pictures. No extra struggle. Use what you need.

Let It Evolve Organically, as You Need It To
Do what you can use now, then use it, and then you can grow it over time as you need to. When a business plan event happens and you need to show it to somebody outside your company, then you add to it and make it more formal.

Fundamental Management
It’s not just a plan, it’s your business. You should use the planning process to manage better, achieve your goals, work proactively instead of reactively.

Mixing Numbers and Words:
Use only what you need. Keep it simple.

Inside Out from the Heart
A good plan is like an artichoke, with the core strategy in the middle and the rest of the plan — what’s going to happen, when, how, and so on — surrounding it.

Separate Supporting Information from the Plan
One of the big wins with the plan-as-you-go business plan is that if you aren’t going to use the complete market analysis, industry analysis, and the rest of the supporting information, you don’t formally develop them.

Planning Not Accounting
Although your business plan projections look a lot like accounting statements, they aren’t. Where accounting goes into minute detail, planning needs summary andaggregation. They are educated guesses, not tax reports. You should approach them with flexibility and an understanding of how much uncertainty is involved.

It Has to Be Your Plan
You don’t need just a business plan, written by anybody. You need to know your own plan, inside and out, with all the details. The core should be your own thinking. Use consultants wisely or not at all.

Control Your Destiny
One of the most important wins you get from good planning is controlling your own destiny in business. You set your future goals and steps to achieve them. While people think you have to have a plan to show somebody else, you want a plan as a tool to manage your own business future.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.