Chapter 8: Can You Teach Entrepreneurs to Write their Business Plan? An Empirical Evaluation of Business Plan Competitions
Benoît Gailly Introduction: The relevance of business plan competitions A large diversity of private and public organizations have been put in place to help prospective entrepreneurs to design and launch new business ventures. Among those, business plan competitions focus on rewarding promising ventures identified through the evaluation of their initial business plans and providing expert advice and training services aimed at teaching them how to complete/improve those plans. However, there appears to be limited empirical evidence regarding the impact of business plan competitions. In this context, the aim of this chapter is to discuss empirical evidence on the efficiency (do they help the right businesses) and effectiveness (do they provide relevant support) of business plan competitions as a way to teach entrepreneurs how to write their business plan, based on the empirical analysis of the case of ‘123Go’, a business plan competition organized yearly since 2000 in four European countries.1 In particular, we will discuss whether the two aspects of a business plan competition (selecting ventures based on an initial business plan and teaching them how to improve it) can actually be justified from an empirical point of view, that is, ‘can you teach entrepreneurs to write their business plan?’ and ‘will that be of any help regarding the success of their venture?’ We will detail first in the next section from a theoretical perspective the issues of new venture evaluation, the target public of early-stage ventures and how a notion of success can be defined for...
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