Business Planning Agency: Participants’ interactions

11 min read

The Business Planning Agency helps participants to plan their business through the provision of expertise, data, and other support. Business planning is a critical function for businesses since it enables them to work within a structured framework that determines their operations and growth. It also enables them to set clear goals and objectives, as well assisting in decision-making, since there is already a range within which the business is expected to operate.

Business planning

Business planning in the NewVistas community

Business planning is usually undertaken by businesses when they are at important junctures in their journey – when they are starting, when growing, or when diversifying. In this respect, business planning is viewed as a one-off event that seeks to define a business’s new goals and analyze the market, and its weaknesses and strengths.

Often, business and strategic planning is an episodic practice, undertaken after a specific amount of time. Besides using sometimes outdated information, the consequence of planning periodically gives businesses a false sense of security, leading them to follow a script that may well be wrong, but which they feel is right because it is the product of professional analysis and decision-making.

Undertaking business planning as a continuous process has some serious challenges that most businesses today would struggle to surmount. The first is the availability of updated data so that developments can be identified and incorporated into decision-making as they occur. This data would need to be collected, analyzed, and used to make decisions on a running basis. It needs the ability to collect all relevant data, advanced analytics, and automation to incorporate it in planning without forcing business owners to dwell too much on business planning at the expense of actually running the business.

In the modern economy, business planning may use updated and accurate data, such as financial statements and government policy. However, there is still a lot of unknown information about the competition, the market, anticipated threats, and other relevant data that would help make a business plan more complete.

The NewVistas economic model resolves all these issues and additionally provides businesses with the capacity to have complete, updated, and workable plans. All community agencies collect huge amounts of data from other agencies, participants and their businesses, and the environment within which the community is located. This information is extensively synthesized through various tools, in real time, using artificial intelligence and big data analytics.

The Business Planning Agency collects from the field, and mines from other agencies and businesses, relevant information that is needed for business planning. Its automated system can analyze the information, and after assessing the business, the owner, and other factors, can be able to help in writing a complete and workable business plan.

Business planning in the community is important in informing other agencies on how they will assist a business. The Business Operations Agency, which leases equipment to participants, will need the business plan to determine what it will lease to a participant, and what it needs to procure to meet current and future demand. The agency will also rely on the plan to establish inventory and accounts receivable factoring needs, while the Commercial Bank, which funds the factoring process, will also rely on the business plan to know how much it needs to create in loans.

Business planning

Data synthesized during business planning

Every limited partner is a business, as is any dependent who is above 12 years old and has started a business. This means that while separate in some respects, the business and the individual are inextricably intertwined. When developing a business plan, it is necessary to look at both personal and economic circumstances that will impact the success rate of the plan.

As participants are admitted into the community they perform a life plan with help from the Life Planning Agency. This plan outlines their various strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). It also enables participants to consider every aspect of their lives – education and lifelong learning, financial life, social life, health, and every other area that impacts them. This information is then analyzed and used by the participant to chart a clear path in the community, which can be amended if circumstances change.

Various aspects of life planning are relevant to business planning. The health and lifestyle of a participant, for instance, are an important area to consider when developing or amending a business plan. Someone who has been working in a mine, and develops a medical condition that prevents them from working too far away from emergency medical facilities, would need to adjust their business plan, and inevitably, their business.

Data collected and analyzed by the Stewardships Agency helps participants determine how they will plan their businesses. The presence of too much competition in one business will inform the participant, through the automated system that will help them, to adjust their strategy. For instance, a barber who finds stiff competition can pick out two or three styles that they are especially good at, and make it their niche.

The general economic outlook in the community and beyond is monitored and documented by the Stewardships Agency. This information is incorporated in the business plan, as it helps a business in its positioning. Ultimately, the business plan is a product of various agencies, which use their automated systems, operational presidencies, and contractors to have as complete information as possible to give businesses the most realistic chance of success.

Role of operational presidencies and contractors in business planning

While the Business Planning Agency uses its automated system to help participants with their business plans, it also relies on operational presidencies to interact with participants during this essential process. 48 operational presidencies serve the three agencies in the Business Development Bureau (the other two are Marketing and Risk Management & Underwriting). Each district is served by two presidencies, meaning 8 presidents per district.

The core function of operational presidencies is to implement the three agencies’ strategies and policies. Beyond this, they closely walk with participants as they develop and amend their plans, helping them interact with the automated system, and enabling them to locate suitable consultants whom they can engage as contractors for more help. The presidencies also observe the capacity of the automated system to serve participants and send regular reports to the executive presidency for implementation.

The nature of business planning means that more often than not, a participant will need specialized help from a professional to make their plan more workable Professionals will often be able to interpret complex information better than machine-learning solutions, and with a more humanized feel of the environment, enable a participant to plan well.

In addition, many consultants are in business themselves, sometimes in sectors that are very similar to the participant’s business. They will have an in-depth understanding of the business, and using their expertise, can help the automated system and operational presidencies respond better to participants’ needs.


The business planning process starts with a definition of business goals, followed by market research. Market research involves wide data collection and analysis. It also helps a business identify its niche in the market, as well as determine which resources it will need, and the strategy it will employ to present its product or service in this market. These illustrations show the process from the perspective of a business, and a consultant who helps businesses to plan.

Illustration 1

Luis, originally from Mexico, is a limited partner who runs a restaurant in a NewVistas community in Texas. He was a chef in Mexico before social pressures encouraged him to emigrate to the United States. He has been engaged with the community, first as a contractor, before commencing the entry process and joining a few years later.  

Initial contact with the community

Luis first came to know about the community following a Facebook ad. A restaurant wanted a chef who was highly skilled in preparing Mexican dishes. The contract terms were attractive, and he decided to give it a try.

The limited partner who had put out the ad had first contacted the Human Relations and Stewardship Agencies. The agencies are responsible for ensuring there is an equilibrium in the social and economic setup in the community, ensuring diversity to reflect the area in Texas where the community was located. The Stewardship Agency, for its part, in anticipation that the contracted person was likely to be a limited partner in the future, would ensure their skills could compete favorably.

In addition, the limited partner would have developed a business plan that showed the necessity of contracting a person from outside the community. Possible considerations would include the absence of Luis’s skillset from within the community, competitive pricing, and the proximity of the community to where chefs could potentially be found.

After Luis was offered the contract, he would commute to and from the restaurant in the community. This was workable, but the limited partner felt this was impeding Luis’s productivity. He would spend long hours getting home, which would mean he was almost ever tired. He proposed that Luis should join the community. Already having seen what the community had to offer; it was an easy choice for him.

Initially, he lived in an apartment but was the limited partner’s dependent. This meant that the limited partner was responsible for Luis’s expenses, including rent and the lease fee of any equipment he would need. Over a few years, Luis’s application to be a limited partner was processed. He started a business, contracting his chef services to the same limited partner and over time, to other businesses as well. Eventually, his application was complete.

Initial development of a business plan

Recently, Luis felt that he had grown enough professionally to set up his own restaurant. He has observed that there are no exclusive Mexican-themed eateries in the whole community, and having worked in the industry for much of his adult life, feels he would be able to offer the best services.

First, Luis approached the Business Planning Agency, with his idea still in the early stages. He had a brief discussion with the business development operational president who serves him and others in his district. They reviewed the idea that Luis had, which the operational president, himself a successful business owner, felt had a great chance of success. He then directed Luis to the agency’s automated system.

To access the automated system, Luis had to first pay a fee. He created a profile, after which the system populated data obtained from other agencies about him. The automated system used various tools, powered by AI, to get as much information from Luis, including his experience, professional skills, ability to market the business, and his understanding of how to run a business.

Using what Luis had provided, as well as the extensive information it had on him, and the community’s current status and forecasts, the system developed a business plan for him. The business plan recommended that Luis focus on Mexican food, and locate the business in a specific part of the community that was underserved not only by themed restaurants but by eateries in general. The business plan also identified the various contractors he would need to engage, equipment, and inventory. Some of the contractors needed were not in the community, and Luis would have to look for them from outside.

With the highly detailed document, Luis went back to the operational president. They went through the plan and decided it needed a professional review to finetune some of the aspects of the plan. Luis was directed to a list of professionals vetted by the agency and picked the one he found the one he felt was most suitable for the task.

Luis offered the consultant a contract to improve the plan. The consultant recommended that the marketing plan may not be the best for the target market, and recommended some changes. He also suggested innovative ways of resolving any issues Luis may encounter as he looked for other contractors to collaborate with him in running the restaurant.

The agency, through the automated system, approved the plan with amendments recommended by the consultant. The business plan was then put on a test run, during which Luis was still engaged in his contract, spending only a few hours a day to see whether it would work. He would open the restaurant for a few hours in the evening, during which he noted customer preferences, the business’s performance, and limitations.

Test run and implementation

In addition to the test run, Luis also engaged his village president serving the Business Operations Agency to establish whether the items he needed could be provided, and if not, whether there were alternatives. He also discussed factoring services that he would need to secure inventory.

 With everything figured out, Luis made any relevant changes to the business plan, informed by his trial run, and was ready to start business. He approached the relevant agencies and contractors who would collaborate with him in various aspects of the business.

The automated system updates the business plan as soon as new information on the business’s performance and the environment changes. Luis can view the plan every week, and where necessary, make any necessary changes. Every quarter, Luis has a session with his operational president to review the plan, and if needed, Luis engages a contractor to help improve and implement the plan.


 After a few years of running the restaurant, Luis feels time is ripe for expansion. He wants to transfer the restaurant to the storehouse, in space within the stadium. He also wants to provide catering services in social events, after discovering that this niche is underserved by current providers, who do not provide Mexican dishes.

He first works with the automated system to better express his idea, and with data from the system, sees the possibility of starting and thriving in such a business. The business plan goes through the same process, with the operational president and a contractor, if needed, fine-tuning the plan.

To start, he runs a Mexican food tent in the stadium when there are major events, such as concerts or sports tournaments. He also starts engaging event organizers and participants who are planning events such as baptisms, weddings, and reunions.

The experiment shows that there is a considerable desire for such services. He however needs to adjust and include more offerings in his menu, rather than strictly Mexican food as he has been doing. With this information, he is ready to expand the business and duly implements the business plan.

Illustration 2

Sheila runs a clothes rental business in one of the district buildings. She was one of the earliest participants to join, having been admitted more than 15 years ago. At the time, she was working as a fashion designer and also stitched up outfits for customers on order. While she still does so, renting out outfits, especially for events, is her main preoccupation. She also rents costumes to businesses that perform in plays, concerts, and even movies.

During her time as a participant, Sheila has mentored hundreds of other participants, many of whom joined after she had contracted them to provide services to her business, especially when she was processing large orders. She has helped them to establish successful businesses, first working with her, and later on going at it alone.

Business planning profession

She recently decided to go back to school and take a course in business planning. She reasoned that instead of offering pro-bono services to participants, she could be certified as a business planning professional, helping businesses with more depth and knowledge about their businesses. As someone who has taken on different ventures during her time in the community, she contends she is well-placed to offer help to most other professionals, besides the fashion industry.

She recently completed an online course offered by Harvard Business School, which trained her on how to develop and implement effective business strategies, as well as various measures (key performance indicators) that can be employed by a business to enable it to track the effectiveness of a business plan, and what can be changed if things are not going according to plan.

Business planning

With her new certification, Sheila has approached the Business Planning Agency for certification. The agency has vetted her qualifications, considered her experience, and decided that she can be a helpful consultant to participants as they develop and implement their business plans.

Vetting and consultancy

The process has mostly been done online, with Sheila interacting with the automated system. However, she has had a few meetings with the business development operational president who serves her. The operational president has had the opportunity to see the range of expertise that Sheila can offer to businesses, especially new ones as they try to learn the ropes. The agency accredits her as a business planning expert.

When a business develops its business plan. Sheila will sometimes be recommended by the agency, either through the automated system, or an operational president. She will charge a fee for her services to the business. She will however still run her main business as a clothes rental.