Doing strategic planning for a micro-ISV sometimes feels like running barefoot through a field of caltrops. On one hand you absolutely know you have to get to the other side where you have a strategic business plan that brings structure and organization to your micro-ISV and all the things you have to do to make it successful. On the other hand, as you try and figure out all those things you need to handle — development, marketing, tech support, blogging, payment processing, website, and on and on and on — it feels a lot like stepping on these cute little things:
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This morning as I was going through my RSS feeds I came across a true gem for helping avoid the caltrops in the planning process: the Accelerated Planning Technique methodology by New Zealander Andrew Smith. What Smith has done is create a methodology for successfully planning. This methodology — APT — makes it possible to abstract out the three layers of a successful plan: developing the vision of what you want, designing a plan to make the vision real, and then to finding the specific action that need to be taken to deliver.
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Smith consults in New Zealand — which might be a bit far for you to go for this information. Fortunately while Smith may come across as a management consultant from some bygone era he knows how to use the Internet very well. He started a TypePad blog at http://business-plans-simplified.typepad.com/business_plans_simplified/ that he hopes to turn into a book about his methodology that will give you as of right now most of his process. If you dig a little further — as I did once I realize just how much value he was providing — you’ll find this other example at his site that walks all the way through applying APT to creating a business plan.
Smith also has a software program he sells for about $150 USD to let you do APT on a PC. I’ve not tried it and from a programmer’s point of view it looks a bit simple to be worth 150 bucks. On the other hand I think his methodology is excellent as the software can make that methodology work for you it’s definitely worth the money.
As programmers, we understand the use and value of algorithms to design and code. Smith’s simple approach to planning will feel very comfortable to you as a programmer. But don’t make the mistake that simple isn’t valuable or the mistake that simple isn’t difficult to do.
That’s why if you’re trying to find a way to plan your micro-ISV whether it’s the micro-ISV you want to build or the micro-ISV you’re running right now, I strongly recommend spending something like an hour reading through Smith’s presentation of his planning methodology.

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