Emergent Perspectives toward the Business Plan among Nascent Entrepreneur Start-Up Competition Participants

Pauric McGowan, Kayleigh Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


This paper examines how nascent entrepreneur perspectives toward the utility of the formal written business plan change before and after start-up competition participation. Such focus is pertinent and timely given the enduringly contentious matter of business plan creation for nascent entrepreneurs. Despite mounting criticisms, considerable resources continue to be expended on promoting the business plan within educative and start-up support provision; the globally ubiquitous start-up competition phenomenon provides a prominent example of such promotion.
In-depth open-ended interviews were undertaken with nascent entrepreneurs at the start, end, and six months after participation in a UK university-based start-up competition. An inductive thematic content analytical approach was taken to identify patterns across participant accounts at each wave of data collection.
Upon entering the competition, the nascent entrepreneurs held highly positive views toward the business plan, believing that it provided legitimacy and served as a means of sense-making. Immediately after the competition, views were more ambivalent, with the business plan viewed as secondary to action but remaining an external expectation. Six months after the competition, the business plan was viewed as underutilised and internally irrelevant; an unnecessary feature of an action-led approach and only useful when needed by external parties.
Originality and Value
Contributing to the limited body of start-up competition research, the enduring centrality of formal business plan production within competition provision is challenged given its limited relevance to the nascent entrepreneur beyond the competition context. Emphasis on business planning within a competition need not automatically require business plan creation; this has implications for business competition organisers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-288
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Small Business and Enterprise Development
Early online date5 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished online - 5 Nov 2018


  • Business Plan
  • Nascent Entrepreneur
  • Business Plan Competition
  • Start-Up Competition


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