Sustainable business start-up: forget your business plan!

What makes you an entrepreneur? First and foremost, the fact that you have a business idea that you pursue with commitment, creativity and perseverance. This idea (some say vision) is the premise and foundation. Everything else are tools to support you. This also includes the business plan.

A good entrepreneur does not implement a business plan, but pursues a business idea. Of course, every business also requires thorough planning. And of course, it’s helpful to have a business plan in place. But anyone embarking on the rocky road of setting up a business should, above all, not lose sight of their goal. And this also includes the sovereignty and flexibility to throw overboard a plan that was still valid a few hours earlier.

The value of a business plan is that you are forced to consider all possible and impossible aspects once and put them together into a whole. This will make your business idea more concrete, more tangible. But: Starting a business is a creative process, not a bureaucratic one. A business plan is therefore already out of date the moment it comes out of the printer! If you don’t keep this in mind, what was well-intentioned will easily turn into the opposite: questions of detail will become excessively prominent, so that you end up not seeing the forest for the trees.

Starting a business is like crossing the jungle: at the beginning you can see the goal you want to reach in the distance. Of course, you have to think about water ration, equipment, trails, food procurement. But the moment you set out and enter the jungle, you have to be able to forget the plan. Then only one thing is certain: the reality of the jungle is completely different from the planned and pre-considered one. So if you stick strictly to the plan, you will inevitably fail. We only learn where the path goes as we walk.

My recommendation: Create a business plan and put it aside again, so that your head is free for the actual goal: The realization of your business idea.


Dr. Harald Schützeichel has founded several companies and organizations in the field of decentralized renewable energies over the last 25 years: in Europe, Africa and Asia. Since 2003 he has been active in development cooperation projects with his own foundation. Today, he is also a start-up advisor at the University of Freiburg and has coordinated the Startup|Energy initiative of the University of Freiburg and the Stiftung Solarenergie since 2020.