Previous research suggested that due to the uncertainties surrounding the venture creation process, planning activities may be more valuable for already operating firms than for emerging ventures (McGrath and MacMillan, 1995).

Business planning may serve different purposes during the early stages of the venture development process. Early planning during the nascent stage may be used to marshal the resources toward the achievement of preliminary goals (Locke and Latham, 2000), to gain external legitimization and funding (Karlssson & Honig, 2009; Stinchcombe, 1965). Planning may reduce the risk of future failure by facilitating the decision making process of launching -or not- the venture (Chwolka & Raith, 2011) by analysing the opportunity and its market potential (Boyd, 1991; Delmar & Shane, 2003). In later stages, planning may have a more internal role and may act as a strategic implementation tool (Brews & Hunt, 1999).

However, if the reasons why ventures should engage (Frese, 2009) –or not- (Honig, 2004) in business planning have been investigated quite extensively (Brinckmann et al., 2010), how business plans are actually used over time by new ventures at different stages of their development and how these uses impact the performance of the firms are still unclear.