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There are no Videos in your queue. There are no Articles in your queue. There are no Podcasts in your queue. Starting a business was the last thing on Sean Hackney’s mind when he sat down to write a business plan.
Hoping to persuade a soft drink company to hire him, Hackney scripted a plan for taking on his former employer, Red Bull North America Inc. But when he showed it to his corporate attorney father and former Red Bull managing director, «they said, ‘Don’t send this to Coke or Pepsi. 2 million company in Sun Valley, California. 2 energy drink in bars and nightclubs,» Hackney says.
The company has 32 employees, and Hackney’s erstwhile sounding boards are now his investors and co-managers. Clemson University entrepreneurship professor William B. Gartner believes business plans are essential. And the SBA notes on its website: «The importance of a comprehensive, thoughtful business plan cannot be over-emphasized.
In 2006, William Bygrave, a professor emeritus at Babson College and longtime entrepreneurship researcher, studied several years’ worth of Babson graduates to find out how much better those who started businesses with a formal, written plan did than those who didn’t. In other words, Bygrave and his team found that entrepreneurs who began with formal plans had no greater success than those who started without them. Gartner also set out to study the idea. Going into the study, I was very skeptical about the value of business plans,» Gartner says. But after he and his colleagues looked at data from the Panal Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics, a national generalizable survey of more than 800 people in the process of starting businesses, he found that writing a plan greatly increased the chances that a person would actually go into business. Gartner’s earlier concerns about the necessity of business plans, he says, were that they were «all talk.
Our research shows that business plans are all plan walking the walk. People who write business plans also do more stuff. And doing more stuff, such as researching markets and preparing projections, increases the chances an entrepreneur will follow through. For his part, Bygrave doesn’financials think his research says business plans are a waste of time.
What is in a business plan
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We’re saying that writing a business plan ahead of time, before you open your doors for business, does not appear to help the performance of the business subsequently,» he explains. So what would Bygrave like to see instead of a business plan? Attempts to sell the product to actual customers, even if it doesn’t exist yet. Have you talked to a customer? If not, I don’t want to talk to you about the business.
Bygrave still thinks plans help, however. Forty percent of Babson students who have taken the college’s business plan writing course go on to start businesses after graduation, twice the rate of those who didn’t study plan writing. Even if they don’t write a plan,» Bygrave says, «they’ve had to think about how opportunity recognition fits with marketing, building the right team, making financial projections and so on. And a wide gulf separates having a formal written plan and having no plan at all.
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