What is a strategic business plan?
A strategic business plan documents the situation, vision and aspirations of an organisation – as agreed by the members – and then includes detailed and specific steps to achieve that vision. It is a very important and useful document when prepared in full consultation with the owners of an organisation. A strategic business plan needs to be a useful, relevant and easily understood document. It needs to be meaningful to the members and staff. It also needs to be easily comprehended by external stakeholders/partners such as funding bodies and donors so they can understand your organisation and see how their programs and priorities align.
I always recommend a strategic business plan for a non-profit because it combines strategic and business planning in one process.
Strategic Planning – Where are we now? Where do we want to be (in one, two, three or more years)? How will we get there?
Working with non-profits it’s really important to understand what their motivations are and what their vision is for their organisation including any enterprise activities they undertake. The owners of non-profits (often Associations or Indigenous Corporations) are the members and I never assume what they want to achieve, it is for them to articulate. They may have different aims to a ‘normal’ for-profit business. Often a key part of their vision is the potential socio-cultural impacts of their organisation. Through a process of consulting with the owners (Management Committee and members), looking at the objectives of the organisation (in the Constitution or Rule Book) and facilitating discussion a clear vision emerges and the relationship between economic, social and cultural priorities.
Business planning is more detailed planning process taking into account all the different aspects of the organisation’s activities and context. It needs to be a focused and practical document meaningful to governing bodies, members and staff alike. A non-profit social enterprise is still a business and business planning processes are very useful to develop clear goals and strategies to work towards achieving the vision. Consulting with internal and external stakeholders, reviewing context, SWOT, markets and marketing, identifying values principles and resources and supply chains are all important.
As a consultant how do you approach business planning?
The act of undertaking a planning exercise can be very beneficial for an organisation/enterprise. It is an opportunity to bring people together, focus, discuss and really clarify what everyone is working together to achieve so it also builds teamwork. During the process I consult with external stakeholders and that feedback can be very illuminating for organisations. During visits I also give onsite support through responding to questions and delivering resourcing. I use clear language during the process and in the final document and also use images to communicate.
In recent years I have found the Business Model Canvas a helpful approach to working with non-profits. It considers: Key activities; Key Partners; Key Resources; Values Propositions; Customer Relationships; Channels; Customer Segments; Cost Structure and Revenue Stream. There are also other interesting models out there too that I incorporate into a process.
Once a plan is drafted it is presented to the organisation and everyone is given the opportunity to check it accurately reflects the organisation and to give feedback.
How did you ‘get into’ the Aboriginal/Indigenous art sector?
It’s funny how I often I am asked this, probably because it’s such a niche area. I stumbled into the world of Aboriginal art in Yuendumu in 1986 on the very first leg of a planned year-long ‘big trip’ to see Australia. Fleeing Melbourne in early Winter after dropping out of art school and then a very short career as a Youth Supported Accommodation Worker in inner city Melbourne the wide open skies, ancient desert landscapes and yapa making art were mesmerising. As fate would have it that visit created the map for the next 30 years of my life. Unbeknownst to me Warlukurlangu Artists had just become incorporated, the Australia Council had just confirmed funding for a year ($20K) and there was a dire shortage of accommodation, in fact there was not even an art centre or a vehicle. The dearth of suitable candidates was an opportunity for this unlikely employee. I became the first Manager in July 1986 and stayed until December 1988. I then fell seemed to develop a habit of falling into things that have brought me to the present day.