Yes you can- according to David Kirsh and Brent Goldfarb of the University of Maryland after studying 700 start-ups – see the short video. “Spending time and energy tweaking your business plan is a waste of resources. It’s a limited-use document that will in no way substitute for the hard work of actually building a business. You’re better off investing in your idea, your social network, finding potential investors, potential customers – the intangibles around your business that are going to make it more likely you succeed. Invest your time in any other business-building activity but working on your business plan.”
They don’t teach business planning any more on their courses (‘easy to find and do on the internet’), but rather spend a lot of time helping people to think carefully about the fundamentals of the business.
I get Kirsch and Goldfarb. I used to run a business incubator and innovation centre in New Zealand, and I found business plans of some limited use – especially when talking to people like bankers and some VC’s who believe in them ;-). They do provide an easy foundation for running courses on start ups as a sort of ready-made template for teaching, but generally i think your time is better spent elsewhere. This guy, Rodney Schrader does believe in them (see video) and so do many others.
Keep an open mind, then….