Written Written communication: communication: from from staff staff nurse nurse to to nurse nurse consultant consultant

Part 9: business plans John Fowler


avoid jargon and abbreviations and use simple uncomplicated English—as we covered in the first of this series (Fowler, 2014). The second point is to ‘tell a story’. While you need to include relevant facts and figures to present accurate information these only communicate with your reader at a fairly superficial level. The sort of information that communicates at a deeper level and will influence the reader to buy into your ideas is that of a story. So your business plan could include one or two paragraphs relating the story of the patient, Mrs Smith, and her experience. You would recount how her current experience would differ following the implementation of your business plan. The associated facts and figures are then summarised simply and clearly regarding the resource implications. Your business plan needs to communicate enthusiasm and positive actions. It is not a critical review of the literature nor is it a negative reflection on the state of your unit. People like to be part of an enthusiastic winning team, so you need to use positive, enthusiastic action language in your plan to draw people in. As well as using these general writing principles you will also need to structure your plan in an easy-to-understand and logical way. Your audience will not want to spend 30  minutes ploughing through poorly thought-out and poorly presented information. You will need to include: ■■ A front page summary that gives an outline of the plan and sells your idea ■■ A contents page if required ■■ Background to the business proposal, which includes details of your organisation, your team and your core purpose ■■ An overview of the new product, service or requirement you are proposing ■■ How this fits in with the current services and future needs of the organisation ■■ Who will benefit and how ■■ Clearly identify what you want, but try not

to make it an all-or-nothing proposal or you may end up with nothing. Give your reviewers some room to negotiate what they might be able to offer ■■ Identify the risk factors and how will they be managed ■■ Finance, cost and implications ■■ Quality control and ongoing evaluation ■■ Time scales. This is not an exhaustive list, but a review of it will help you structure and focus your plan for your target audience. When you start writing your plan make sure you involve your team in its development. This ensures ownership of new ideas within the team and also helps you spread the workload and make best use of individuals’ gifts and skill. If they are involved in its development they are less likely to feel threatened by change and developments and no new development should rely on the drive and enthusiasm of a single individual, no matter how good you are! The next article in this series will examine the style of writing that you would use when writing the different parts of your portfolio BJN Fowler J (2014) Written communication: from staff nurse to nurse consultant. Part 1 Core principles. Br J Nurs 23(15): 866

Dr John Fowler is a general and mental health nurse. He has worked as an Educational Consultant to primary care trusts and as a Principal Lecturer in Nursing for many years. He has published widely on educational and professional topics and is series editor of the Fundamental Aspects of Nursing Series and the Nurse Survival Guide Series for Quay Books

© 2015 MA Healthcare Ltd


his is the ninth article in the ‘staff nurse to nurse consultant’ series discussing the use of written communication by clinically based nurses. This article discusses how to write a business plan. I’m a great fan of the TV series The Apprentice and I am always amazed at how poorly the apprentices’ business plans seem to be put together. Common criticisms that are made by the experts seem to be: unclear objectives and processes, exaggerated claims regarding output and profits, poorly thoughtout staffing and resource implications and no identification of the risk factors. Now, you may be thinking that you are not going to put yourself forward for The Apprentice, neither are you contemplating setting up a business; so why do you need to reflect on the written communication required for such proposals? You will of course realise almost instantly that business plans are an increasingly important part of any senior nurse’s responsibilities. You will all need to write in this style when requesting new physical or human resources, when you want to develop an area of practice, make a case for increased staffing or request replacement equipment, or when you apply for study leave for you or individuals in your team. A business plan is a tool designed to communicate information to a wide variety of people with the aim of eliciting a desired response. Its target could be external to your organisation—e.g. funding from a national charity, NHS development fund or research body—or internal to your organisation via line management or specialist departments. No matter who you write your business plan for, there are some basic principles to follow. The first step is to identify your audience: who is going to be reading your business plan? Are they nurses, medical staff, administrators, accountants or maybe all of these groups? Depending on who will be reading your plan you will need to adjust your language accordingly. The general principle is still to

British Journal of Nursing, 2015, Vol 24, No 1

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Written communication: from staff nurse to nurse consultant.

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