Yossi Vardi delivered a priceless quote at yesterday’s TechCrunch 50 event:
Business plans are a great section in the science fiction genre. They are made for the kind of people who like sausages and don’t know how they are made.
He captured the sentiment that I had tried to deliver in a talk last month to incoming MBAs interested in Entrepreneurship at The Wharton School. Returning as a three month old alum, I tried to deliver three very simple points:
(1) Normalcy: Being an entrepreneur is totally and completely normal (this sounds intuitive to most reading this blog, but is not at all obvious in an environment created to funnel new graduates into high paying corporate jobs)
(2) Commitment: The most important thing one can do to start a business is to whole-heartedly commit (no hedging and no back-up plans) to starting a business. Smart people with their backs against the wall figure out how to make things work.
(3) Execution: Truly original ideas are few and far between… startups succeed based on execution. I lamented that the Entrepreneurial Management curriculums of most top business schools are long on business plans (long plans, shorts plans, plans of plans!), yet short on execution. I’ll be impressed when a school abandons their “Business Plan Competition” for a “Business Competition” that tests who can build the best operational (rough beta form) business in 6 months. As Yossi would argue, let’s stop talking about the sausage and start grinding it into form!
On a related note, my Co-Presenter Seth Berger, the Founder of And 1 apparel and a truly hilarious guy, made an excellent point during our Q&A session about startup compensation. He posited that MBA graduates were all overly interested in raising venture money for startups because few would stomach making less than six figures. Peter Thiel, speaking at the aforementioned TechCrunch 50 event, hammered this point home by saying, “the lower the CEO salary, the more likely it is to succeed.” As Stewart Brand entoned and Steve Jobs echoed, “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”
Ps. For anyone interested in watching this full presentation, it is over here on the Wharton Entrepreneurial Program website. I’ll warn you that there is no fast forward and I don’t come until 30 minutes in, so this is very much a friends and family link!