Nerd Out on Business

Starting With a Business Plan is a Complete Waste of Time

Published 9 months ago • 1 min read

When I was starting my SaaS business, I was referred by a mentor to local startup consultant. I set up a meeting.

As I walked into his office, I was full of energy about the idea I had. Sitting down in a chair in his office, he welcomed me and stood up in front of his whiteboard ready to share his secrets of success with me.

He wrote in big, bold words: A BUSINESS PLAN

I immediately thought, “I’m pretty sure I know what I want to build but I’m not an asshole so I’ll listen”. He went on to describe the components of a business plan.

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Business/Product Description
  3. Market Analysis & Competition
  4. Financial Plan and Projections

When he sat down, I told him that I had some wireframes for my SaaS product that I wanted to turn into a better-designed prototype. He shook his head in disagreement and said, “the first step is your business plan”.

I proceeded to spend the next couple of days building out my business plan and it was a complete waste of time.

After completing that initial business plan, I realized that my plan was constantly changing. I was adding to the scope of certain features while removing from others. I frustratingly kept updating my business plan as the consultant was planning on coming by my office in a couple of weeks. I didn’t want to seem like a jerk by ignoring his advice.

I kept at this business plan until I had a few meetings with potential customers. I started asking them about current tools they were using and what kind of reports they were looking for. The excitedly told me stories about what type of data and functionality they wanted to see.

I finally decided to ditch my formal business plan when two potential customers, in different meetings, both wanted to grab my computer out of hands to modify my wireframe. This type of feedback was infinitely more valuable than tweaking my already-stale business plan.

Instead of writing a business plan dive right into the market and pivot based on customer feedback.

A business plan contains an implicit assumption that the market wants your product or service as you’ve described it. That’s often a misplaced assumption.

Your time is better spent building confidence in your product by getting direct feedback from potential customers. At least at the start.

Relying on customer feedback means you’re not married to a set plan. You can pivot and adapt based on what you’re learning from your customers.

Furthermore, engaging prospective customers for feedback and making changes based on their input can create strong brand loyalty. Customers feel valued and are more likely to stick with brands that listen to them.

An iterative, customer-centric approach is where to focus your energy at the start of your business journey.

Nerd Out on Business

Helping you start and grow a bootstrapped or "seedstrapped" company

I launched a niche SaaS business in 2017 and sold it for mid-8 figures in 2020. I'm here to help you in your journey to achieve financial freedom while having fun doing so.

Read more from Nerd Out on Business

Few things in business are worse that working with an asshole. Building a business is inherently filled with uncertainty and high pressure. Expect it. Drawing inspiration from Dale Carnegie’s timeless advice in “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, you can greatly benefit by avoiding the three Cs: Criticizing Condemning Complaining The tone at the top matters. You set the cultural blueprint for the entire organization. By refraining from criticizing, condemning, or complaining, founders...

9 months ago • 1 min read

Going from no knowledge of software development in 2015 to beginner a year later changed my life. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey is a classic personal development book. One of its core principles is “Put First Things First,” which is Habit 3. In the book, Covey introduces a time management matrix to help categorize tasks based on their urgency and importance. Here’s a breakdown: Quadrant I – Urgent and Important: These are crises, pressing problems, and...

9 months ago • 4 min read

I’m a huge advocate of talking to customers to ensure that you build a product that they and the market wants. But there’s something even more powerful than in-depth customer research…. Build the company you’d want as a customer. This is exactly what Steve Jobs and his team at Apple did with the Macintosh. See below for an expert from this 1985 (interview)[] in Playboy. We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build Mac...

9 months ago • 1 min read
Share this post