Are business plans relics? It depends

Call me a hedonist for believing that writing a business plan is an essential step to bringing clarity to your business proposal. I understand the rationale behind a lean methodology that promotes continuous iteration and pivots in search of product optimization. Yet how many of us can systematically research, analyze, and catalogue a strategic plan for a new product or service in our heads?

There is no shortage of well-credentialed business leaders taking aim at the once obligatory business plan. Steven Blank and Bob Dorf, authors of The Startup Owner’s Manual advocate “Startups should dump the business plan and adopt the flexible business model.” Brad Feld, managing director of the Foundry Group, wrote in the Wall Street Journal “Today, it’s clear to me that business plans for startup companies are a historical artifact”… .

Yet, a report from the Small Business Administration, Are Planners Doers? , concludes that entrepreneurs who write a business plan are more likely to take the needed action to launch their business.  To determine for yourself if writing a business plan is worth the invested time, here’s a short list of scenarios where a formal plan may be of benefit.

I resemble that research

Earlier this year an article in Forbes cited that twice as many successful entrepreneurs are over the age of 50 as compared to under the age of 25. This is a counter-intuitive finding given that more than ever college students are seeking the entrepreneurial experience.

At a recent brown bag seminar on establishing stock option programs for new startups, I observed eight of the 19 participants, 42%, to be over 50 years of age. Granted, the mere observance of a person’s age is less than empirical proof, yet according to social scientist Erik Erikson’s work on psychosocial development in individuals, this observance is in line with our need for productive creativity between the ages of 40-64.

One other observation of interest, there wasn’t one woman entrepreneur in the audience; which was surprising given the pace at which women-owned firms are being created.


Why long ball?

No matter the business, every committed entrepreneur desires to have the risks and tireless work they invest validated through success.

Welcome to LongBallBlog, a chronicle of my continuing journey in the launch of S-T-M Axiom™, an enterprise software solution designed to enhance business process management efficiencies for highly-regulated industries. Over the next 10 weeks I will work alongside other innovators and company founders as one of five early-stage start ups selected to take part in the Rocky Mountain Innosphere’s Lean Launch Pad program.

What does long ball have to do with early stage start-ups and the Lean Start-up methodology? As with America’s Game, where the term ‘long ball’ applies to power hitters who consistently go to bat with the mindset of adding a double, triple, or home run to their box score; business leaders who engage in innovative long ball are swinging for the fences with the expectation of connecting on a disruptive technology or process.

No matter whether you are part of the 10% who take risks, and innovate large; or the other 90%, I invite you follow as I embark on a discovery process designed to hone ideas into viable business solutions.