Business Plan in A Weekend?

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    There’s been a fair amount of interest lately in how to write your business plan quickly, say in a weekend. The most well-known is called Startup Weekend, which promises to turn strangers into teams with a completed business plan in an intensive 54-hour weekend marathon. Is this a good idea?

    There’s also a new book, Startup Weekend: How to Take a Company From Concept to Creation in 54 Hours, that provides some useful information but is largely a sales tool to get readers to sign up for a Startup Weekend.

    Startup Weekend

    While I have not attended a Startup Weekend, I do like the idea. Getting a team together in an intensive environment with skilled trainers to focus for 54 hours on brainstorming, exercises, pitching, and, ideally, creating a business plan to present to founders and investors, sounds great.

    Is that realistic? Probably not.

    But to solidify your team and make solid progress on your plan — with more work to be done afterwards — that can really jumpstart your efforts? That’s worth the time and money that goes into a Startup Weekend.

    Feasibility Testing

    My biggest concern, a common theme in this blog, is that in the pressure to create a compelling business plan you can easily ignore or minimize genuine problems in your idea. For my work, that means you need to do feasibility testing first, to determine if in fact your great idea is such a great idea after all, before you jump into business planning. Solid feasibility testing — including customer interviews, market research, competitor analysis, and pricing assessment — cannot be done in a weekend.

    Confirmation Bias

    Otherwise, during the business planning process, in a long weekend or some other time, we all tend to get caught up in what’s called “confirmation bias” — the tendency to look for data that confirms our initial impressions and to ignore everything else. That’s dangerous for your business, and often prevents you from seeing solutions that would come from gaining a better understanding of that disconfirming data. Or from just dropping an idea that won’t succeed no matter how much business planning you do.

    Has anyone attended a Startup Weekend? Would be great to hear from you!

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    For more resources, see our Library topic Business Planning.