Starting a Business? Skip the Plan

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Not all entrepreneurs need a business plan. Most start-ups succeed because the founder had an authentic vision and clarity of purpose, not a well-written document.
While not all planning is bad, the content that most business plans focus on has little to do with the reality that will actually emerge. Instead of agonizing over a document, focus on identifying exactly why your business should exist. Clearly articulate the bigger goal at hand, whether you call it vision, purpose, or calling. This will guide you and the business. And remember that the team is more important than any plan. It’s worth spending time making sure you are working and partnering with the right people.

Adapted from “Great Businesses Don’t Start with a Plan” by Anthony K. Tjan.

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3 comments
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Noah Parsons
Noah Parsons

I agree with the general sentiment of the HBR article that this post is referencing, but I'm afraid that too many people don't get beyond the "don't plan" sensationalist headline. The thesis of the HBR article is not that people shouldn't be working through some sort of planning process, but that they shouldn't focus on a highly polished, long business plan document. There's a big difference between "don't write a long business plan" and "don't do any planning."

Every successful business does some form of planning and writes down some aspects of their plan for distribution to investors via a pitch deck, an executive summary, etc. 

Imagine having to stand up in front of investors and having to talk intelligently about your company without having done some market research, some budgeting and cash flow analysis, and some concept testing with potential customers. Investors ask hard questions, and some form of planning is necessary to ensure that you've done your research and are prepared to give good, well thought out answers.

Companies should be saying "yes" to PLANNING but "no" to long business plans.

Noah Parsons
Noah Parsons

I agree with the general sentiment of the HBR article that this post is referencing, but I'm afraid that too many people don't get beyond the "don't plan" sensationalist headline. The thesis of the HBR article is not that people shouldn't be working through some sort of planning process, but that they shouldn't focus on a highly polished, long business plan document. There's a big difference between "don't write a long business plan" and "don't do any planning."

Every successful business does some form of planning and writes down some aspects of their plan for distribution to investors via a pitch deck, an executive summary, etc. 

Imagine having to stand up in front of investors and having to talk intelligently about your company without having done some market research, some budgeting and cash flow analysis, and some concept testing with potential customers. Investors ask hard questions, and some form of planning is necessary to ensure that you've done your research and are prepared to give good, well thought out answers.

Companies should be saying "yes" to PLANNING but "no" to long business plans.

Noah Parsons
Noah Parsons

I agree with the broad sentiment of the HBR article that this is referencing, but