In my last instalment I touched on some practical ways to begin your planning process. Now that we have that in place, we are going to shift focus a bit and look at four key elements of any business plan.
Missed part 1? Catch it here: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
1) The business vision
2) Defining and communicating the business’s vision and mission
3) Setting SMART objectives
4) The SWOT analysis
1.) THE BUSINESS VISION
Successful business is usually based on a strong concept, purpose and ability to focus without becoming overwhelmed by ’the small stuff’. Ideas for planning an activity linked to your business could arise for a variety of reasons. For example, your idea may have come from a need or desire to:
• Celebrate a unique aspect associated with your town or area
• Showcase or develop a particular cultural or sporting activity
• Host or create a competitive or mass participation sporting business
• Encourage and celebrate community activity
• Be your own boss
Whatever the reason for your business, you will have identified an opportunity and taken in to account the various sweeping risk factors associated with its successful delivery. You will have considered:
• If the business is unique or if it’s duplicating an existing business
• If there is a gap in the market that the business can fill
• If there is a demand for such a business
• If the resources are available to deliver it
• If the community, the local authority and relevant sector body will support and ‘buy into’ the business
• If it will be financially viable
• If it will be sustainable long-term
2.) COMMUNICATING THE BUSINESS VISION AND MISSION
By defining a clear vision and mission (purpose) statement of your business, you will be able to more clearly communicate to others what you hope to achieve, thus providing focus and direction for everyone involved (including potential funders). In essence, don’t expect others to be able to understand what you are unclear about yourself.
Your vision statement should be a short statement that describes, in broad terms, the business’s long term aim. The mission statement sits underneath this and gives more detail about how the vision will be delivered. Both are important positioning statements and they need to be both concise and achievable.
3.) SETTING SMART OBJECTIVES
You should also be able to define and communicate your business’s objectives. Your objectives help deliver your vision and mission. Objectives need to be clearly set out and should follow the SMART principle: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Based:
Specific: Be specific about your business objectives. For instance, if an objective is to attract tourists to the business, be specific about where they will be coming from, how many you hope to attract, etc.
Measurable: A system, method or procedure is required to track and record the action upon which the objective is focused. For instance, a monitoring system should be put in place to record how many tourists came to the business, and from where they came from.
Achievable: The objectives that are set need to be capable of being reached. For instance, don’t set the target of attracting 1000 tourists from Europe when you only have a short period of time to market a business that, realistically, will only draw 500 day-trippers from neighbouring regions.
Relevant: Does the objective fit in with the business’s mission? For instance, if the main driver for the business is to encourage local community activity – do you really need to attract tourists as a priority?
Time-Based: There must be a clearly stated start and completion date for each objective.
4.) SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
At the beginning of the planning process, undertake a simple ‘SWOT Analysis’ which will help to determine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) in relation to the business which will help to keep you grounded and be integral in shaping any future plans,. Look especially at internal and external influences that may have a positive or negative impact on your ability to deliver as a business.
Consider the following points:
• Business Management – experience within the organisation, staffing numbers and structure, financial stability, viability of planning, confidence of funders, etc
• Partners/Clients – the support they can/cannot provide: finance, influence,
• Climates – social, economic, cultural and political
• Business Benefits – what the business offers, its ‘Unique Selling Point’ (USP)
• Potential to Develop and Grow – factors that will assist or hinder this
• Other Factors – competition, technology, legal, environment.
In the initial stages of your planning process it can be useful to list the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats relevant to your business in a template similar to the sample below.
Experienced business management team
Supportive and active network of local artists
Good local authority support and activevisual arts officer
Business vision is convergent with local and businesss strategies
Growing audience base
Lack of marketing and media expertise
Limited sponsorship success
Lack of quality accommodation for
visual arts overnight visitors
Poor late night transport
Local tourism forum keen to work in closer partnership
business South Africa’s Regional businesss Programme
Local artist recently awarded major arts prize
bringing increased media interest to the town Etc…
New supermarket opening in town –
sponsorship possibilities attached
Increasing costs/standstill funding
Business Manager moving on next year
Competition from ‘Y-Town Arts Festival’
One way to help understand this template is to look at the Strengths and Weaknesses as being internal (inside your business ) and the Opportunities and Threats as external (outside your business).
Some simple rules for a successful SWOT analysis:
• be specific
• avoid grey areas
• keep your SWOT short and simple
• be realistic about the strengths and weaknesses of your business
• your analysis should distinguish between where your organisation is today and where it could be in the future
• always analyse in the context of your competition 4