4 Reasons Your Business Plan Might Need to Be Trashed

While preparation is always good, no amount of charts can protect you from the realities of a 21st-century business world in permanent beta.

learn more about David Slayden

By David Slayden • Nov 13, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You've done it. You've created a business plan. Maybe you've even made it official by having it laminated and bound. After all, nothing makes a plan feel more real than Venn diagrams, charts and timelines as you set off to explore the daunting and unfamiliar territory of turning your idea into a scalable, repeatable business model.

While preparation is always good, no amount of charts can protect you from the realities of a 21st-century business world in permanent beta. In this brave new globally networked economy, the name of the game is "flexibility." So when you set out to startup your business plan, it's essential that you keep some key factors in mind:

1. Consumer needs are constantly evolving.

As the Dude puts it in The Big Lebowski, "New s**t has come to light" and your business model should evolve based on the "new s**t." Startups that embrace this will stand a better chance at survival.

Related: Anytime Is a Great Time to Launch a Business -- If You Do This

Pinterest, which was founded by a designer, is always evolving and improving in response to user needs, including adding better search capabilities to tailor your experience. Tweaks like this may seem minor, but they're the difference between thriving and floundering in a competitive market.

2. Being psychic is a tough job.

Anyone who claims to be able to accurately predict the future will fail if they base that prediction on data that is no longer relevant or current. While the future has always been uncertain, the rate of change is greatly accelerated even from 10 years ago.

The rise of the lean process and agile software methodology as major influences on business models helps us adjust to change rather than to predict.

3. Business ideas are never fully baked.

When developing a new business, it's important to have a clear vision of where you want it to go. That being said, not even Steve Jobs could predict what Apple would one day become, and frankly, that's what helped it grow into what it is today.

Related: 5 Tips on Planning Amid Rapid Change

Business plans often detract from grandiose visions because they are inherently formulaic. Let your vision lead.

4. Experimentation lives outside of a pie chart.

While the goal of a startup is to mature into a model that is scalable and repeatable, this needs to be balanced with experimentation and innovation that can't be measured in a pie chart or line graph.

The Business Model Canvas looks beyond those charts and is especially useful because it combines a practical and tangible approach in covering the various areas and aspects of planning a business but emphasizes the need to iterate as conditions change.


Business models per se will not be going away -- but how we see them and how we use them has already radically changed. Now more than ever, businesses must focus on the demand side as well as supply side. It is crucial to place an early emphasis on identifying the customer and developing product research and development with early adopters who function as beta testers.

Competition and opportunity are now globally focused but at the same time personalized. Terrain and market share can change rapidly. So the lifespan of a particular business model can be very brief, as it will need to remain open to changing conditions and developments and iterate to remain relevant and profitable.

Related: Why the Lean Startup Model Might Save Your Life

David Slayden

Executive Director of BDW

David Slayden is the executive director of BDW, a designer-founder accelerator focused on innovation through the integration of design, tech and strategy.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Have More Responsibilities at Work, But No Pay Bump? Use This Script to Get the Raise You Deserve.
Black and Asian Founders Face Opposition at All Levels — Here's Why That Has to Change
Business News

The Scam Artist Who Robbed Backstreet Boys and NSYNC Blind. 'Some of the Guys Couldn't Pay Their Car Payment.'

In the 1990s, Lou Pearlman made millions creating the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. It was all a giant Ponzi scheme.

Thought Leaders

5 Small Daily Habits Self-Made Millionaires Use to Grow Their Wealth

We've all seen what self-made millionaires look like on TV, but it's a lot more subtle than that. Brian Tracy researched what small daily habits these successful entrepreneurs adopted on their journey from rags to riches.

Starting a Business

How To Raise Capital For A New Business Idea

These practical methods and tools are available to entrepreneurs who want to raise money to create their own new businesses.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas To Start Right Now

To start one of these home-based businesses, you don't need a lot of funding -- just energy, passion and the drive to succeed.

Business News

Mark Cuban's Grocery Store Hack Will Help You Score Cheaper Produce

The billionaire talked about his early days in Dallas when he was strapped for cash.