Thursday, April 25, 2013
Real Entrepreneurs Don’t Write Business Plans
Steve Blank pities those poor professors stuck teaching tired business plan courses. “I’d be embarrassed if I was on a faculty teaching ‘How to Write a Business Plan for New Ventures,’” says the serial entrepreneur turned business school professor.
Blank is at the forefront of a growing movement of B-school professors teaching the next generation of Mark Zuckerbergs. Entrepreneurship, he argues, is about getting out into the world and doing—not simply researching and writing. “Business plan classes and business plan competitions are dead in the water for new ventures,” says Blank, who authored the cover story in the May 2013 issue of Harvard Business Review on the value of experimentation in building a new business. Blank teaches that gospel in a course called Lean LaunchPad at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Columbia Business School, and Stanford’s engineering school.
The premise of Blank’s course is that aspiring entrepreneurs need to know their customer and must test their hypotheses to have any chance at success. In the three years that he’s taught Lean LaunchPad, Blank has reached about 150 teams of students. The teams start building a product or service at the beginning of the class, and then immediately go out and talk to 10 to 15 people per week to test their theories about business challenges, such as pricing. His students learn from their failures and grasp the true meaning of pivoting or changing to meet the needs of clients, he says. “You used to have a revenue plan, and you’d execute to the plan because it was written down,” Blank says. “When it didn’t work out, you’d fire people. Now, we fire the plan.” Read more»
By: Francesca Di Meglio