[Note: Tim sent me a copy of his book, but he didn't ask me to review or post about it]
Readers of this blog know that I am an advocate of written plans, particular marketing plans. In my current role as a Duct Tape Marketing coach and in my former role as a CPA, I see business owners who struggle because they don't have a plan. I also see folks who create a plan because they "have to", but then they never use it – it goes on a shelf and collects dust. I've always maintained that the value from having a written plan comes from 1) going through the process and 2) using it on a regular basis to evaluate how your business is going and making adjustments as needed.
In his new book The Plan-as-You-Go Business Plan, Tim Berry makes these points much more eloquently than I ever could. Tim argues that the planning process (along with regular reviews) is so important that business owners just need to get started somewhere, anywhere, and continue to build your plan as your needs change. This is 180 degrees different from the classical "big bang" approach to business planning where we work for months at a time developing a huge document before we ever get started working on the business.
Tim has organized his book to support his "plan as you go" approach. It is designed so you can jump around and use the section of the book that you need at any given time. The first section of the book "Attitude Adjustment" contains the background information you need to know and learn to adjust to this idea of business planning as a process in your business rather than an event or milestone to be forgotten once completed.
In "The Heart of the Plan", you work on your business identity, target market, your offering(s) and your strategic focus. When I post about having a marketing plan on this blog, this is the stuff I'm talking about.
"Flesh and Bones" is the section that talks about creating action plans, budgets, milestones, and metrics.
I really like that "Dressing and Growing" is the second to the last chapter of the book because it re-emphasizes the idea that you should do the planning for yourself first, and then when others want to see the plan (your bank), you add the dressing that they need to what you have already done. Again, this is 180 degrees different from how most businesses use their business plans.
The last section talks about the process of planning. This includes reviewing, revising, and managing the plan. I think my favorite piece of Tim's advice from this book is his recommendation that the first thing you do when creating your plan is to schedule the review dates – before you even begin writing. I just think this sets exactly the right tone for part your plan should play in your business.
This book is a must have for anyone who owns a business or plans to start a business someday.
Bill Brelsford Small Business Marketing Consultant