Reflections on a Failed Business Plan

Aerial of the Harvard Business School
Harvard Business School

Last week I received some pretty disappointing news.

I was enjoying a well-deserved, ahem, Wednesday off when I learned from my sectionmate replica breitling bentley 6.75, Bryan Mezue (NI), that the business plan we’d submitted to the HBS Business Plan Competition had not been selected as one of 16 semi-finalists to advance to the next round of the competition.

It was disappointing, depressing, and, like everything else in the 6-8 weeks we’d taken to develop the plan, a tremendous learning experience, one I wouldn’t trade for anything.

A little background on me: I was never one of those people who had to be an entrepreneur. You probably know people like that, people who need to be their own boss, people who are turned off by the big corporation thing.

I’m neither of those replica breitling Aeromarine . I’d like to be my own boss someday, but I don’t necessarily need that in my 20s. And, surprisingly, there was something about the big firm environment as I experienced it at Goldman Sachs that I quite liked.

If this description sounds like you and you’re giving any thought whatsoever to participating in the competition next year, do it.

Yes, it’s a lot of work, and yes, it’s a major drain on your time. There will be mornings, afternoons and evenings where you need to make social or academic sacrifices, which different people will evaluate differently.

But I promise you there’s a big payoff to the experience, even when it ends in disappointment. You learn so much. I mean, I’d read about market sizing in Marketing last semester, but in doing it for yourself – and in doing a million other things like that – you develop entirely new muscles that I’m certain will pay massive dividends wherever I end up.

It makes you more marketable, too. Beyond a cover letter and resume, a recent job application asked 15 questions or so about past experience, including whether I’d ever developed a business plan, performed a competitor analysis, and a handful of other things which I would have had to answer “no” to before, but happily was able to say yes to now.

And what if you’ve already done those things? Well, it’s still a low opportunity cost time to pursue one of your own ideas and make a go at being the next [insert name of admired entrepreneur of choice here].

So yes, it was a disappointing end to the Business Plan Competition. But as I look back on all the hours Bryan and I put in to the project, I can’t think of any superior way I could have spent the time.

Before closing, I want to say congratulations and best of luck to the 16 teams that did advance. And I want to thank Bryan for all of his insights, commitment and support over the past two months. Hopefully there’s more work on this project to come!