I’m often asked about using any of various templates to aid in the writing of a business plan. I’m not a big fan of any particular template, rather, I’m a big fan of critically thinking through the important questions. So, by all means, if you have a template you feel comfortable with go with it. Side note: I’d be happy to send along the one I use when I write a play, email me and I’ll send it along, dparker@causeimpact.com.

When I work with an organization in creating the planning document, here are some guidelines I follow:

  • I ask that the CEO/ED actually write the plan. It’s expected, of course, that various planning team members would provide counsel and guidance, however, the top chief needs to be the final writer. I don’t use the word ‘author’ here on purpose as in fact your entire team has had a hand in this effort so far and presumably will be throughout.
  • The plan will go through several versions. When I write a plan I expect that I’ll have upwards of 40 versions (no joke) and that’s before launch. Of course after launch there’ll be – absolutely should be – changes to the plan on a regular basis.
  • Given the previous point, don’t get overly caught up in form or writing beautifully, especially in the early drafts. I oftentimes simply bullet point I want to lift out of the feasibility work into the sections and then invariably move them around as I get further along in my drafting.

I always recommend having a set of reviewers, a couple or few outsiders, to make sure the plan flows nicely and give a complete picture of the venture. Send them a draft at the point you’re ready for feedback and ask them to really hammer it. It’ll make your plan stronger for sure.

Dave Parker is the Founder of CauseImpact, LLC, a social purpose business he created in 1999 to help social sector nonprofit organizations identify, evaluate and optimize their social impact in innovative and sustainable ways. Mr. Parker has nearly 25 years of marketing, product development, sales and management experience. Prior to founding CauseImpact, he worked in a variety of entrepreneurial environments in the telecommunications and technology sectors.