So here’s what a user says in an email: I found was that I was straight jacketed into
categories that were irrelevant and asked to complete sections that would
contribute nothing.

That’s very disappointing to me. In 20-some years working with Business Plan Pro and its ancestors I’ve never lost sight of the absolute that every business plan is unique. Every business plan tool needs an easily modifiable outline. It’s at the very most a collection of suggestions intended as a starting point, nothing more.

Here’s how modifiable it is in Business Plan Pro:


The entire outline is easily modifiable, of course. It has to be. One of the most serious criticisms leveled against business plan tools, in general, is that they are black-box solutions that don’t recognize the nature of the business plan.

  • Every business plan must be unique.
  • Every business plan tool has to help allow every business plan to be unique.

The real hard part, for me and the team that does Business Plan Pro, is that we try so hard to make that obvious.

Worse still, it’s a theme that I’ve emphasized for years, in books, articles, seminars, and teaching. It has to be your plan, not the teacher’s or consultant’s, or software’s. The Pick Your Plan chapter of my Hurdle book on business planning¬† — which is included with the software — talks about how you always have to modify to fit your needs.

Here’s the topic as it shows up in Help:



Still, the hard truth here is that the problem of making things understood is always up to the author, the developer, the writer, the programmer, and not the user. If the user doesn’t understand, it’s our fault.

So we take as many opportunities as we can, including this one, to make it clear to as many people as we can: The outline is a set of suggestions, you can add or delete topics wherever you like, make it yours.

Don’t include any topic that you don’t need. Add any topic that you do need.

In Business Plan Pro you do that by clicking on the Outline tool.

And, dear unhappy user, I’m really sorry that you didn’t see that.¬† That’s our fault, not yours. I hate the time you wasted. And thanks for pointing that out.

— Tim Berry

Tim BerryTim Berry

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