Business plans are used in the private and non-profit sectors to describe key elements of a project or business, focusing on critical success factors. They are meant to communicate externally to donors and partners, and internally to managers, project teams, and collaborators. The plans can be used to describe an enterprise at multiple scales, from specific projects to partnerships of multiple businesses.
Within The Nature Conservancy, business plans build on the contextual information generated through Conservation Planning – Ecoregional Assessments, Conservation Action Plans, Results Chains, and Strategy Effectiveness Measures. Business planning describes how the organization will execute on the strategies generated in conservation planning, and deliver the outcomes proposed.
A good business plan should contain at least 4 key things:
- Theory of Change – in specific terms, explains the intermediate outcomes and assumptions critical to the project achieving its desired goals.
- Phasing – describes the order of implementation of the strategies, including a review of prior accomplishments that indicate capacity to succeed.
- Capacity – describes the project team, their experience and qualifications, as well as highlights additional capacity needs and how they will be addressed. Can include role of partners critical to strategy execution.
- Finances –the cost of implementing the project from start to finish, with a funding plan to cover the anticipated costs. Specific details should be given for near term costs.