Sean Silverthorne: "How to Write a Great Business Plan" has been one of the most downloaded articles on Harvard Business Publishing since you wrote it in 1997. Why do you think you hit a nerve?
Bill Sahlman: Writing a business plan is a seminal moment in the life of a new venture. Doing so entails committing to paper a vision of the factors that will affect the success or failure of the enterprise. People take the exercise very seriously and get emotionally invested in what they produce.
In that context, the article was written to give insights into how to think about the role of a business plan and its relation to new venture formation. I tried to explain that a business plan can't be a tightly crafted prediction of the future but rather a depiction of how events might unfold and a road map for change. I emphasized the notion that successful entrepreneurs constantly seek the right mixture of people, opportunity, context, and deal. They anticipate what can go wrong, what can go right, and they try to balance risk and reward.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Updating a Classic: Writing a Great Business Plan — HBS Working Knowledge