Posted by: bevmeldrum | August 15, 2007

Business Plans: The Process Versus The Product

I spent some time yesterday planning a training and intensive support programme for a group of social enterprises that will result in each of them having a completed business plan.

As I was deciding on how the training programme will work and how much time to spend on each element I was reminded again that actually the most important part of this programme will not be the final Business Plan document that is presented to their funder or the bank at the end of the programme but actually the process of putting the plan together.

I have mentioned this before on this blog, and as you will guess it’s something I’m quite passionate about – the final document with all its pictures and looking professionally produced with its proper binding is an important document. But if you don’t use the opportunity to take time out from your busy schedule to really work through how you plan to build your organisation over the coming years then you’ve missed an opportunity.

So often we decide to write a business plan only when a funder or investor have announced they want to see one and we have no hope of getting the funding or investment without it. In this situation we are making a decision to write a business plan based on someone else’s agenda.

Instead, why not get ahead of the game and make a decision to go through the business planning process because it’s a good thing for your organisation to do rather than because someone else is pressurising you to do it. Make the most of the opportunity, because that is what it is – an opportunity.

Why be fire-fighting all the time, looking for every opportunity to get funding or find new markets. Focus on what you are good and be clever – plan how you want your organisation to develop. That’s the way to build a healthy organisation.

And then if you can do that the Business Planning process becomes just part of what you do as organisation, how you run, rather than an time consuming activity you have to do each time you want funding or investment.

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