Many entrepreneurs in developing economies face unstable environments due to violence and civil unrest. Yet, we know very little about how environments characterized by high levels of political and civil violence affect new venture processes and survival. Moreover, it is unclear whether standard theories about organizational strategy, such as planning, hold true in such environments. We explore these issues using a sample of 730 new ventures in Colombia from 1997 to 2001. We find that political and civil violence decreases firm survival, increases the benefits of incremental (operational) planning, and decreases the benefits of comprehensive (strategic) planning. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.