Posted by: bevmeldrum | October 25, 2007

Common Questions About Business Plans – Isn’t It Just Another Document That Will Sit On The Shelf?

Absolutely not. Often when we first think about writing a business plan it is when a funder or lender is asking for one as part of an application we are making. We respond reactively. Our application cannot go off to the funder or lender until we have written the business plan – so we better do it quickly.

However, if we take that approach I think we are missing an opportunity. Writing a business plan is not all about the final document, the process of putting it together is just as important, if not more so than the final bound document itself.

By introducing the business planning process into the way we run our enterprises we can ensure that we are always heading in the right direction, not being distracted by things that will take us away from our core business, actively seeking opportunities rather than responding reactively to what happens around us and perhaps most importantly everyone else in our organisation will be coming along for the ride.

The business planning process is an incredibly powerful tool that can give you a head start on taking your enterprise from a start-up to becoming financially sustainable and stable for the long-term.

The process of putting your business plan together can also be a dynamic one. Getting other people involved not only shares the workload but also gives others the opportunity to share their ideas and get a sense that they too own the direction the organisation is going in. That kind of buy in from your staff, volunteers, management committee and other stakeholders is priceless. They reach a new level of commitment because it’s not just your idea anymore they are part of it.

One thing you will need to do is to build in time to update your business plan. Your organisation will be changing constantly and your business plan needs to keep up. Think about how often new funding streams come on board or new business opportunities arise – you could be updating your business plan every week. I wouldn’t suggest this – maybe once every three months. Book half a day in with some of your key people and go through – check if you are on track, note down what has changed. This way you get an up-to-date business plan without having to re-write the whole document every year.

If you do this, if you get everyone involved and keep your business plan up-to-date it will become the most useful document in your organisation. Because everything you need is in one written document you can use it to copy and paste information into funding applications, marketing materials, evaluations and reports for example.

How many of us when we are writing a funding application write the answers to the questions from scratch each time looking in all sorts of documents trying to find the information we need. Just imagine if all the information you need was in one document and all you had to do was copy and paste it from one document to another. Just imagine how much more quickly you can put funding applications together leaving you more time to either do other things or write even more funding applications.

Your business plan, and the process you go through to put it together, becomes the centre of your business and with it you get a document that changes and grows as the business does. So be proactive, don’t wait until a funder comes knocking on your door for your business plan, implement the process into the way you do your business and give it a head start towards becoming a sustainable organisation that will be there for the long term.



  1. […] Bev Meldrum Made an interesting post today on formorethanprofit.wordpress.comThe first paragraph is here: […]

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