Ask Human Resources to Assist in Writing Business Plan

Dawn Boyer

Writing a business plan can be a hard task for entrepreneurs, but those lucky enough to have access to a human resources practitioner (HRP) or a veteran human resources manager on staff may complete the job faster with assistance from that HR subject matter expert. Few people have more access to company capability, employees’ mindsets, insight to company growth, and knowledge of employee’s skills and expertise, or a good idea of long-term company growth.

Of the major points within a well-written business plan, the following are sections the HRP can write for a business owner: 1) Executive Summary, 2) Mission, 3) Keys to Past, Current, and Future Success, 4) Awards and Recognitions, 5) Company Ownership (bios), and the 6) Management/Personnel Plan, which is about 25-35 percent of a rich, descriptive business plan.

An executive summary provides an overall description of the company and it’s strategic goals, but HR would have data for the start dates of the company, who was involved in the birth and evolution of the business, the idea(s) that got the company started, as well as sacrifices the owners made. Knowledge of the beginnings of the business allows the HRP to describe the internal growth based on company legacy. Writing with passion about this beginning will entice investors, as well as potential employees, to want to be a part of the future.

The mission of the company should be written by a good cross-section of the company executives, but also reviewed annually to ensure the company is heading toward growth and profitability. If an HRP doesn’t have an intuitive understanding about the company mission, they can’t market the company as an employer of choice. The mission statement should be in place from day one.

Keys to the past, current, and future success are simple – the employees of the company, financial balance sheets, and the services or products the company provides within a niche market. The company started (or is starting) with the experience, skills, and capabilities of a few good people who can provide something no one else can for the price or the value. The company continues financial success with a staff of service employees. The future depends on retention of valuable employees, as well as offering bigger and better products or services for a positive customer service experience. The HRP will have a clear understanding of the employee talents, their skill sets, and capabilities for potential promotion, as well as leadership and team cooperation.

Awards within the business community acknowledge efforts expended to be the best. Writing about those via press releases, white papers, and branding on external trade organizations demonstrate the capabilities of the company overall. HRP’s can write about these awards and recognitions, because in many cases they are the department who may have spearheaded the nominations for acknowledgement, as well as having documented those awards in annual employee evaluations.

Company ownership is different from the executive summary or key success factors. A talented HRP can write the curriculum vitae of the most important figureheads of the company to show their subject matter expertise and how those same executives are focusing on company services, quality products, and future growth. Noting the personal investments of the owners in the business plan can show investors what sacrifices and risks are at stake and how serious the owners are in the success of the company.

The personnel plan is where savvy investors can ‘read between the lines’ for how stable is the company’s environment. HRP’s can write about retention percentages compared to their competitors to demonstrate positive advantages. Benefits package descriptions illustrate the success of retaining employees, while lowering costs of recruiting, and engaging or improving moral for all employees. Specific benefits such as matching 401(k)’s, paid tuition, and company training or promotional paths show the company has put bona fide efforts into retention and recruiting.

A thorough description of technology used by any or all of the employee within the company can exemplify how the company gains an advantage over the competition. This demonstrates looking ahead, designing executable planning, and training employees in cutting costs effectively and productively.

While many businesses rely solely on the financial manager or CPA to write business plans, it’s important to invite human resources into the planning stages and given portions to write about the company’s short- and long-term business plan. HRP’s have advantageous insight from having their fingers on the main pulse of a dynamic company.

Once this information is written into the business plan, it is important to publish most of the business plan (sans proprietary data) in appropriate places where the public can review it. Investors will search the company’s website for information. Job candidates may look for specific information to arm themselves with research for interviews. Employees may wish to find out how the company started, and what made it successful to feel a sense of pride in being part of a larger success story.

Human resources staff, managers, and internal consultants can provide more than just employee call-centers and administrative duties. Many HRP’s have business or business development, finance, or marketing experience in their work portfolios, and companies should take advantage of in-house talent where it would be to their advantage.