Are “Creative” Business Plans A Good Thing?

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    Most people agree that a rigorous business plan is a good idea. Clearly it’s best to research the market and risks as thoroughly and objectively as possible. In contrast, a “creative” plan, one that involves sketchy research, is unlikely to meet with success.

    Right? Well, maybe, but perhaps a certain amount of naivety might increase your odds of success. Here’s why:

    Hiding Hand

    Many successful entrepreneurs fool themselves into believing they are not risk takers. When they face major problems, they have no choice but to find creative solutions. If they had studied every possible risk beforehand, they wouldn’t have started the business.

    The truth is that no matter how well researched, business plans seldom do a good of job predicting reality. As described in earlier blog, do Just Enough Business Planning.

    So while doing some planning is a good thing, one can easily do too much of it. And that’s not only expensive, but it might not leave enough room for “creativity” later on.

    Every successful business I’ve worked with has examples of how its survival and ultimate growth depended on solving unexpected big problems. In other words, in being creative because it had to be.

    From the late economist Albert Hirshman (The Principle of the Hiding Hand):

    “Creativity always comes as a surprise; therefore we can never count on it and we dare not believe in it until it has happened. … Hence, the only way we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, and undemanding of genuine creativity than it will turn out to be.”

    Is this a good business planning strategy? What do you think?