People Power?

You develop property, you develop product, but do you develop your workers?
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the February 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Are your people your most valuable asset? The majority of entrepreneurs would say yes. But is developing this critical asset addressed in your business plan? If not, it should be.

"A development plan for your employees, both management and nonmanagement, will help you obtain funding, impress investors and lenders, and even prove your capabilities to potential customers," says Stanley I. Simkins, a principal with OHRD (Organization Human Resources Development) LLC, an organization development and human resources consulting firm in Albany, New York. "Everybody pretty much knows that you have to sell the management team in your business plan, but they don't necessarily show below that level. They're saying, 'You can count on [our people] today,' but they're not showing where [the staffing] of tomorrow will be."

Having a development plan for every-one in your organization maximizes their potential, builds loyalty, and increases productivity and profitability. Simkins says such a plan should address technical, interpersonal and management skills, along with personal development.

To show your commitment to employee development in your business plan's human resources section, begin with a statement defining your philosophy on the topic. Simkins says this can be phrased similarly to equal opportunity statements. It might read something like: "Human resources and people are our most important asset, and we demonstrate this by creating comprehensive development plans for each employee, regardless of his or her position with the company."

Then explain the process of identifying each employee's goals and needs, and create an appropriate strategy to meet those goals and needs. It's not necessary to include the development plan for each employee, but you may want to offer some examples. If you need more than a few pages to outline your program, consider including it as an attached exhibit rather than as part of your main business plan.

"The more you show you have credible resources," says Simkins, "the more potential financiers and customers are going to believe you will do what you promise."

Jacquelyn Lynn left the corporate world more than 14 years ago and has been writing about business and management from her home office in Winter Park, Florida, ever since.

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