Startup Business Plans: Do Academic Researchers and Expert Practitioners Still Disagree?

Academic researchers and practitioners disagree on the value and methodology of creating a startup plan. An analysis of the differences and the motivations of these two district communities gives insight into the challenges of planning a successful launch.

The deep divide between the academic and practitioner guidance with respect to startup planning continues to expand. The unique communities differ on their advice to founders on both the value and methods of creating a startup business plan with respect to the importance of creating a startup plan. This gap is observable in the literature. It is important to understand the difference between a startup business plan, which is formed at time zero, and a strategic business plan that is subsequently created. Understanding the unique challenges of time zero planning can contribute to further understanding which factors are causal to sustainability (Gonzalez, 2017a).
Time zero refers to the moment when a single decision has been made to create a new organization, and it plays a vital role in the future course of a startup. A startup business plan, on the other hand, is a structured, formalized plan of when, where, and how the startup occurs. Academic literature still touts business plans as a preferred method of startup planning, and business schools still actively teach the creation of business plans (Hormozi, Sutton, McMinn, & Lucio, 2002). Popular and influential practitioner publications state that startup planning is of little or no value (Gerber, 2010; Guttman, 2015). While it is generally acknowledged that business planning is an iterative process, the startup plan is unique as it is not possible to observe its strengths or weaknesses at time zero (Gonzalez, 2017b). The absence of such data makes it even more challenging to use legacy audit-based models at the initial iteration of planning.
This review attempts to demonstrate the existing gap between the methods advocated for startup planning within academic and practitioner publications, especially when measured over time. The recent preferences of practitioners and academics to minimize or abandon traditional strategic planning methods and utilize either no planning or “lean” planning as an alternative are at the core of this research. A longitudinal exploration of the motivations and reasoning that are causal to the divergence of the two communities as employed in this research shall serve to advance the understanding of the role of planning undertaken by startups at time zero.

Author: Gilbert Gonzalez

Cite as: Gonzalez, G. (2017). Startup business plans: Do academic researchers and expert practitioners still disagree? Muma Business Review, 1(15). 189-197.