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A Tale of 2 Perspectives on Business Plans: Academic vs Practice

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A Tale of 2 Perspectives on Business Plans: Academic vs Practice

Many successful entrepreneurs did badly at school or dropped out of university. The education system didn’t suit them or didn’t know how to handle them. As a result, many graduates move straight into a graduate job and stay employed until retiring in their sixties or seventies, never considering entrepreneurship for their journey. Instead, they choose to toe the line, do what is expected of them and walk a well-trodden path, deliberately turning down options with higher perceived risk in favour of security and certainty.

 

Not every student wants to be an entrepreneur, but every student can benefit from entrepreneurial skills. No matter where a student ends up in their career, whether they start a company or join an existing company, entrepreneurial skills enable them to serve themselves by first serving others.

 

In business school, a practice-based business plan is an essential part of your curriculum. It’s not just another case study—it’s a detailed strategy that will help you evaluate your new business venture’s feasibility and potential success. However, many students find it tricky to balance their academic requirements with real-life plans for launching their new venture. This blog post will offer you two different perspectives: one from an academic advisor and another from an entrepreneur.

 

The Academic Perspective on Business Plans

Business plans are often viewed as a catch-all document that provides a checklist of everything you’ll need before you start a new venture. But, academic business plans are different. For an academic business plan, you don’t need to ask yourself, “How much money do I need to raise?” Instead, you’ll use the business plan to ask questions like, “How much time will it take to accomplish my goal?” Then, you’ll work backwards and estimate the time you will need to achieve your goal. Then you’ll estimate the resources you’ll need to complete each step. And you’ll use the analysis to identify potential risks and mitigation strategies.

Business Plan JTB Consulting
Business Plan from JTB Consulting

 

The Practice-Based Entrepreneur’s Perspective on Business Plans

For the practice-based entrepreneur, business plans are a strategic roadmap that guides you through the journey ahead. You’ll follow this roadmap while you’re building your business and while you’re building your business idea. As you explore different ideas, you’ll create a business plan for each one. You’ll use these business plans to discover the best business model and explore the market. You’ll also use them to test your assumptions, explore your weaknesses and identify your strengths. Looking at business plans from a practice-based entrepreneur’s perspective, you’ll see that a business plan isn’t a static document. Instead, it’s part of an ongoing process.

As you can see, academic business plans and real-world business plans are very different. However, each type of plan has a very important purpose. Business plans can help you test your assumptions. They can also guide you financially. They can help ensure you’re focusing your limited resources in the right direction. Business plans can also help you communicate your ideas to potential investors, partners, employees and customers. And they can help you track your progress and stay accountable for meeting your goals.

 

5 Tips to make your Academic Business Plan more Real-World Ready!

There is a difference between academic and real-world business plans. However, there are ways you can make your academic business plan more real-world-ready. These tips will help you apply the practice of writing a real-world business plan while still meeting the requirements of an academic business plan. They will also help you get the most value out of your business plan.

  1. Research the market you want to enter.
  2. Research your competitors.
  3. Research the demographic you want to target.
  4. Research the channels of distribution you want to use.
  5. Research the pricing strategy you want to use.

Studying entrepreneurship can give early-stage entrepreneurs an edge if they continue learning beyond the classroom if they don’t expect entrepreneurship to be spoon-fed in the same way as other subjects. If their focus is self-guided learning and application and if they are self-motivated. Suppose the course is another tool in their toolbox.

If, however, a startup founder relies on a teacher’s advice to run their business, parks problems until the next class, doesn’t expand their mind beyond the curriculum or works within the course parameters, it will only serve to make entrepreneurship another tick-box exercise, with no relevance to the real world of business which has little regard for neat lists and everything going to plan.

 

“Unlike history, sociology or anthropology, entrepreneurship creates what it studies.” — Kauffman Foundation

 

It can be argued that you do not need to go to university to start a successful business, but you do need to hold a growth mindset, be open to learning, and be ready to capitalise on the resources around you. You can learn from books, you can join masterminds and accountability groups of entrepreneurs, and you can hire a coach or mentor. University entrepreneurship courses can add essential skills to everyone, but there are plenty of ways to pick up these skills as long as someone desires.

 

7 Tips for Launching Your Own New Venture While Completing Your Degree

Studying entrepreneurship whilst starting a business means the theory has real-life application. Students can apply the models they learn to their businesses. There is no reliance on examples from companies in the news, past examples or fictitious entities, which hold no practical value. To grasp what entrepreneurship is about, students need to do it.

Startups succeed based on their environment, peer support, access to resources, and plenty of inspiration around them. The concentration of these factors explains why Silicon Valley has been the tech startup capital of the world for so long. It’s no secret that great entrepreneurs are focused on growth and open to learning. Startup founders studying entrepreneurship become versed in processing information, assessing and planning. They can call upon guidance and coaching when they hit inevitable stumbling blocks.

If you’re pursuing your business idea on the side while you finish your degree, you will face extra challenges that are unique to your situation. Here are a few tips that will help you succeed.

  1. Track your time.
  2. Find a group of people who are pursuing the same venture as you.
  3. Find an advisor who has experience in your industry.
  4. Be selective with what you spend your time on.
  5. Be selective with who you spend your time.
  6. Be selective with who you share your ideas with.
  7. Be selective with what you share on social media.
Business Plans JTB Consulting
Business Plans by JTB Consulting

 

A Realistic Guide for Students

This guide offers a realistic look at how business plans can help you succeed in real-world ventures. But, if you want to succeed in your real-world ventures, you must have the right mindset.

  • Be flexible.
  • Be realistic.
  • Be honest with yourself.
  • Be honest with others.
  • Be strategic.
  • Be patient.
  • Be persistent.
  • Be thoughtful.
  • Be resourceful.

 

Need more advice on Business Planning? Connect with the Founder of JTB Consulting, Dr Thommie Burger (on LinkedIn)

 

Established in 2006, we have successfully written hundreds of bankable and world-class Business Plans for clients across 25 countries. As South Africa’s Leading Business Plan Company, we are confident that we would be able to assist you too. Kindly note that we also offer “Investor Pitch Decks”, “Excel-based Financial Models”, and “Proposal/Tender Writing Services” in addition to our Custom Business Plan Writing Service. Please visit our Services page for more information.

We look forward to being of service to you. Please feel free to contact our Founder, Dr Thommie Burger, on +27 79 300 8984 should you have any questions. He is also available via email and LinkedIn.

JTB – Your Business Planning Partner.

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Dr Thommie Burger is the Founder of JTB Consulting

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