To Plan or Not to Plan, That is the Question

When it comes to planning out a startup versus just diving in and going for it, I have mixed feelings. I’m unsure whether there is a clear winner, or if it strictly just depends on the situation and individual that makes each work. For Tom Kelley, author of “The Art of Innovation”, his brother David was quoted as treating his business like a project, learning as he went and just enjoying the process, creating what is now regarded as the world’s most successful design firm in IDEO (Kelley, Littman, & Peters 2001). On the flip side, you have those companies who planned and are equally as successful, along with those you’ve never heard of, mainly because to this day they’re still planning.

Why You Need a Business Plan

  • You’ll stay On Strategy – Having an outline of what you want to see happen can better prepare you for making the right decisions to get there
  • Business Objectives Will Be Clearer – because you have this roadmap, you’ll be able to make goals to get you to your destination
  • Educated Guesses Will Be better – You’ll be better prepared for unforeseen circumstances and maybe will be able to predict them from your research
  • Better Idea of What Needs to Happen, and in what order
  • Better Idea of Managing Finances – You’ll be able to determine the financial tools necessary and maybe even acquire it with your business plan

Why You need to Just Do It

  • New ventures are already risky and exploratory by nature. You don’t want to potentially waste time and effort planning for 5 years ahead when exploring the idea can determine whether you want to follow through with or not
  • If you’re sticking to an area that you’re already familiar with, the need for acquiring knowledge won’t be as great
  • Nothing prepares you more for the real thing than the real thing
  • By diving in you’ll acquire the skills necessary to succeed as you progress, while meeting the people that can help and building momentum along the way
  • You will never fully be able to plan for everything that can arise, and while attempting to do so you’ll prolong starting your business, risking ever starting it all

With arguments being shown for each, do you believe planning a business is better than just doing it?

Sound off in the comment section below

Until next time,

The Empresario



  1. Chelsea M. · February 27, 2017

    I have mixed feelings on which would be better to do, plan just about everything out or just doing it and figuring it out along the way. I feel like having some plans and/or goals set in place will help you better when it comes to making progress over the course of certain amounts of time. At the same time, though, if you spend all of your time planning out something, without actually putting any of it into practice, you run the risk of a large portion of that plan being useless due to a problem that you did not account for. So not planning everything out would not be the worst thing in the world. At the same time, though, planning absolutely nothing leaves one in a position of potentially losing their direction after a certain point.

    Currently, I do not run my own business. I work for a local government project. This project is one where we have the bosses above us that control how much major progress we make in a year. If they decide that they don’t want to give us more funds for certain parts of the project, we must suck it up and continue onwards and determine ways to make progress on smaller levels. Initially, when the project was started, there was a game plan in place that everyone was working towards. Unfortunately, a few years after being started some things changed, which resulted in the game plan being shelved and ignored. At the same time, that left the ones working for the project in a position of unknown. It is weird being in a position where I know what the game plan is/was and how, if it were finished, things would be so much better. Unfortunately, that is completely out of our hands. So, for the time being, we make what progress we can and fix what others left broken.

    Hopefully, that makes some semblance of sense. Ha.


  2. dsthompson4 · February 28, 2017

    Chelsea I am in the same boat as you when it comes to this topic. I find benefits for both sides. With the personality I have I need a plan or guideline in order to make any progress towards a goal but when I plan too much, I find I either never do what I intended because I “planned” myself out of it. I think a mixture of the two would be idea but that would be easier said than done I believe.

    Your reply makes perfect sense to me haha


  3. daveharkins · February 28, 2017

    Plan or don’t plan? I think the answer is: It depends. If you have a fairly straightforward idea, I see the value in doing a business plan on a napkin or something similar, so you have some underlying assumptions written down to follow. This approach will help you work out the big things that you can identify from a 30,000-foot level. Then, just do it.

    If your idea is complex or needs funding, then I think a plan is essential.
    I wrote a post on this topic a few years ago. If you’re interested, you can find it here:


    • dsthompson4 · March 1, 2017

      I’ve gone back and forth on this topic quite a bit and like you I think it just depends on the situation. I enjoyed reading your article. Gave advice I plan on using for myself. Website is really nice also. Hoping to get mine to that point soon


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