Tips on Assembling Your Business-Planning Team

If your company has a management team, divvy up the work involved in putting together your written business plan. Here’s why. Delegating makes your job easier. In addition, different perspectives prove helpful as your team reads and reviews drafts, offers suggestions, and fine-tunes the document. Managed well, the group will arrive at a stronger plan, and you’ll win group support and improve morale at the same time.

How many people you involve depends on the size of your company and how big and complicated your plan is. No matter how big you want your team to be, here are some tips to help you create a team that’s both efficient and effective:

  • Keep your team lean. Involve only the number of people you think you really need to get the job done. Too many planners — like too many cooks in the kitchen — can spoil the recipe for successful planning. A bloated team can mean endless meetings and too many points of view.

  • Choose people who want the job. There’s no point in assigning a planning task to someone who really doesn’t want to do it. To help win team interest, take time at the beginning to explain why creating a written business plan is so important. Select managers who really want to help and who are willing and able to complete the tasks you assign.

  • Organize your team around the plan. By organizing your team around the major components of your business plan, you make sure that all team members know their tasks and how their work fits into the larger picture. Some of the assignments are pretty straightforward: Your financial person should take charge of the financial review, and your marketing head should put together the business environment and marketing sections.

  • Put one person in charge. Every team needs a leader, and that’s particularly true when putting together your business plan. Keeping track of the whole process can be a job in itself, especially if you have a larger team or a complicated plan. Name one person as project director, and make sure everyone on the team understands that he or she has ultimate authority.

  • Appoint a wordsmith. If you’re lucky, someone on your team is good at putting words down on paper. Name this person your senior plan editor. Among the tasks: Writing key sections of your plan, such as the executive summary; checking grammar and spelling; and making sure that the writing style is clear and consistent throughout the plan.

  • Consider using collaboration software. A growing number of software programs are available that help people work together on a common task, such as developing a business plan. Some enable remote employees to meet via the Internet. Others allow working groups to share and exchange documents.

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