Burn the Business Plan: What Great Entrepreneurs Really Do

Carl J. Schramm

Simon & Schuster,  January 2018

"The evangelist of entrepreneurship" (The Economist) reveals the true stories about how a range of entrepreneurs created their successful start-ups: hint, many of them never began with a business plan.

Business schools teach that the most important prerequisite for starting a business is a business plan. Nonsense, says Carl Schramm in Burn the Business Plan, who for a decade headed the most important foundation devoted to entrepreneurship in this country. Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Google are just a few of the companies that began without one.

Schramm explains that the importance of a business plan is only one of the many misconceptions about starting a company. Another is the myth of the kid genius—that all entrepreneurs are young software prodigies. In fact, the average entrepreneur is thirty-nine years old and has worked in corporate America for at least a decade. Schramm discusses why people with work experience in corporate America have an advantage as entrepreneurs. For one thing, they often have important contacts in the business world who may be customers for their new service or product. For another, they often have the opportunity to strategize with knowledgeable people and get valuable advice.

Burn the Business Plan tells stories of successful entrepreneurs in a variety of fields. It shows how knowledge, passion, determination, and a willingness to experiment and innovate are vastly more important than financial skill. This is an important, motivating look at true success that dispels the myths and offers invaluable real-world advice on how to achieve your dreams.

Hardcover | ISBN: 9781476794358 | Publication Date: January 2018


“This business book lives up to its billing. . . . [Schramm] sets forth in real, practical, down-to-earth ways his knowledge of everything from debunking myths to identifying actions for success."
Booklist (starred review))

“New businesses are about great ideas, not great plans. Schramm tells it as it really happens.”
Mitch Lowe, co-founder of Netflix, founder of MoviePass

"Cerner, now with 25,000 associates, started with conversations over a picnic table in a public park. We never had a business plan. This book tells the real story of why most companies begin. If there is one book that aspiring entrepreneurs should read, this is it!"
Cliff Illig, co-founder, Cerner Corporation

"Based on data and experience rather than hype, Burn the Business Plan is a timely antidote to the Silicon Valley mythology of startup wonder kids. I found this book deeply inspiring and confidence-building, and think all entrepreneurs, new and experienced, should read it."
Steve Watkins, founder of Lipomics Technologies and Verso Biosciences)

"Required reading for those who want to learn the real entrepreneurial process. It obliterates the useless conventional wisdom urged upon aspiring entrepreneurs of writing business plans and focusing on venture capital. This book, filled with stories of entrepreneurs just like you, is for the 99 percent of people who dream of starting a business but can’t find a practical roadmap."
Eugene Fitzgerald, Merton C. Flemings-SMA Professor of Engineering, MIT; founder, AmberWave Systems Corporation and The Water Initiative; and co-founder of 4Power and New Silicon Corporation

"Business professors, many of whom never started a business, may hate this book because it overturns their view that writing a business plan is the key to success. Instead, this is a book filled with plain-spoken practical advice from one of the country's most thoughtful experts on entrepreneurship who is both a scholar and successful entrepreneur."
Robert Litan, Director of Entrepreneurial Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

"No other book builds its advice for would-be entrepreneurs on such a solid factual basis. Readers can explore how to prepare themselves to become entrepreneurs long before starting a company, the best time in their careers to start, and what it will take to make their companies not just survive but flourish. This is the best book that anyone thinking about starting a business should read."
Amar Bhide, Thomas Schmidheiny Professor at The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University; and author of The Origins and Evolution of New Businesses