Know your business


Know your business

Know your business

Knowing your business is critically important

We like to think that health care is not a business because we are somehow better than that and it shouldn’t be about ‘business’.​  Reality check.  It’s both.​ And to give good health care you need to do good business.​ ​

So the quicker you work out the business rules, the better the health care can be!

Here are some important questions to you need to answer in order to really know your business and to prepare to manage the financial side of the equation.

What business are you in? 

Who do your serve?

What work does your unit do?

Sounds obvious but at times the scope of our unit’s work can suffer ‘scope creep’ – meaning that we start spending time, energy and money on activity that actually is not our core business.  If we are not clear on this, we can easily be diverted from achieving our mission and critical goals and priorities.  

Business planning

Your unit’s mission, directions, key priorities and finances fall out of the organisation’s service plan (which defines the service configuration now and into the future), strategic plan (usually 3-5 years future plan) and divisional/department business plans (annual operation plan).  Now these can all be called something different in your organisation – but they should exist in some form or other.   Ideally, your unit will also have an annual operating plan that sets out the your unit’s mission, values, key priorities for the year, targets and, you guessed it, this is where your budget should be if you have one.  Now the reality is that very few Units do have an operating plan – and that is what makes it hard to manage.  


  • Locate and review your organisation’s service plan, strategic plan and annual operating plan.
  • Get access to your organisations operation plan and budget templates/platform, find out who knows how these work and set up some time with them to take you through them.

How well does your current unit’s business plan and work align with the organisation’s strategic plan and annual operational plan? 

What is your Unit worth?

Many front-line and unit managers are in charge of resources and activities worth thousands and millions of dollars.  To really understand your role as a steward of the organisation’s resources, you must understand what the resource base is worth.


  • Investigate out: what does costs your organisation to keep your unit operating.  You are a manager of a unit with a $? budget.  How does that feel?


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