A Business Plan

A business plan is a formal statement of a set of business goals, the reasons why they are believed attainable, and the plan for reaching those goals. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals.

The business goals may be defined for for-profit or for non-profit organizations. For-profit business plans typically focus on financial goals, such as profit or creation of wealth. Non-profit, as well as government agency business plans tend to focus on the "organizational mission" which is the basis for their governmental status or their non-profit, tax-exempt status, respectively—although non-profits may also focus on optimizing revenue. The primary difference between Profit and Non-Profit organizations is that "For Profit" organizations look to maximize wealth versus Non-Profit Organizations, which look to provide a greater good to society. In non-profit organizations, creative tensions may develop in the effort to balance mission with "margin" (or revenue). Business plans may also target changes in perception and branding by the customer, client, tax-payer, or larger community. When managing a business, a business plan, or B-Plan, is often confused with the term Marketing Plan. When the existing business is to assume a major change or when planning a new venture - a 3 to 5 year business plan is essential.
Yes, we are piloting a program that provides business planning development to communities where they live. We're starting by targeting MAPP communities at the "Action Cycle" end of their process. (MAPP = Mobilizing Action through Planning and Partnership-- check it out at naccho.org/mapp)

Here's how the program works.
  • We consult with you in advance to identify the best ideas to develop business plans around, and then form teams around those ideas.
  • We come to your community for a one or two-day session; you convene as many members of your MAPP team as is necessary to get one or two or four business plans started.
  • At the end of that session, your team or teams will have a good outline of a feasibility plan completed.
  • We meet via webinar or conference call with each team as they develop a full feasibility plan.
  • If the plan is in fact feasible, we coach them through the full business plan.
I should clarify what I mean by "team" in this context: I mean a cross-community team. For instance, you might have team members from the health department, the hospital, the other hospital, the United Way, the YMCA, the school system, the community health center, the county-- or all of the above.

We're in the middle stages with several teams in Florida right now, and some of the feasibility plans look really good. Two stand-out plans: adding dental services to an existing HIV clinic, and doing ER diversion with at least two and probably three different hospitals across a county.

The lesson for me is this: communities can develop business plans very quickly and efficiently if they already have a good, fresh assessment in hand, and a wide range of partners queued up and ready to go. That defines the MAPP communities we're working with: motivated partners, good data, identified priorities.

-- Stephen Orton

Success Story: Highland Health Center

Congratulations to our friends in Gaston County NC on their Highland Health Center Grand Opening and Building Dedication last Tuesday, July 27!

A Gaston County team developed the business plan through the Management Academy to plan out how to co-locate health department and health center services. You can read more about the Grand Opening here.

This is a classic example of a public health business plan:
  • Starts from health needs
  • Identifies a key target market (in this case a specific section of the city)
  • Maps out a mutually beneficial alliance (in this case, the health department and the FQHC in the city)
  • Shows how the money will flow
Hats off to the whole team, and thanks to Health Director Colleen Bridger for sending them!

--Steve Orton