#escapemanifesto preview: Bin the business plan

The temptation to write a 50-page business plan before or while you build your business is very strong. You feel like you’re being responsible, anticipating all the likely scenarios and getting a proper plan in place. You’re applying all your corporate skills – you’re increasing your confidence.

The problem is that every day that goes by that you’re polishing bullet points in your business plan is another day that nothing is actually changing in the outside world. No one knows about your business. You’re not testing any of your core assumptions. All you’re doing is making yourself feel better. Of course plans are useful, however you can’t make a real plan until you’ve gathered real data about the market.

You may need to get investment or land a big partnership to even get your business off the ground. You may think that these parties need to see reams of pages showing you’ve thought it all through. Firstly, do you want to work with people who demand this level of time wasting? Sec- ondly, can you show them a one-page summary, a prototype, customer testimonials or some other real proof that you will be able to do what you claim you’re going to do?

Earlier in this book we talked of the importance of applying startup thinking to your career. Here the comparison comes full circle. Instead of wasting years and lots of money finding out that your business model is flawed, adopt a “Lean Startup” approach to testing hypotheses. Develop your customers rather than your product. Apply this to your business model. read The Lean Startup by Eric ries. Get your head around the jargon. The core messages are extremely important. Heed Steve Blank’s advice “no business plan survives first contact with customers” (Google “Steve Blank Udacity course” for an excellent guide through this process).

rather than writing a business plan and pretending your way out of uncertainty you should test your way out of uncertainty. Fight the fear that stops you from putting your idea in front of the people you are building it for. You can learn so much about a potential business idea without ever opening PowerPoint.



By now, you’re probably aware that we wrote a book (you helped!) and we’re excited to be really close to the final publish date. The Escape Manifesto (#escapemanifesto on Twitter) is the book behind the movement and is here to support, inspire and encourage us all to make big and brave transitions in our lives. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing snippets on this blog.

  • http://twitter.com/businessonFIRE FIRE

    Hi guys,
    This isn’t me trying to hijack your excellent post… it’s just an amazing coincidence that we appear to have released a blog post on almost exactly the same topic on exactly the same day!!
    Picking up on the very same point, I’m encouraging people to think about what type of ‘business plan’ they really need for their business. ‘Start ups’ are undoubtedly different from ‘small businesses’ depending on your definition. If you don’t mind me adding it in, then my post is here: http://business-on-fire.com/2013/05/17/business-plan-business-model-steve-blank-lean-startup/
    I’m going to try and guess what you will post about next week!!
    The Secret Consultant