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Planning makes sense

by Paula Anderson

Having a roadmap for your business or nonprofit is critical to the growth, development and success of your organization. Planning is the process of looking ahead three to five years. The growth of your organization depends on how well you plan for the future and how you handle the bumps in the road.

Whether your business is for-profit or a nonprofit entity, a plan helps you stay focused. Benjamin Franklin told us many years ago, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

Ricky Tucker, business coach and advisor said, "Use your business plan as a comprehensive guide for starting and operating your business."

For profits have a bottomline whereas nonprofits have a double bottomline (mission and revenue). Understanding how you will fulfill and fund your mission is essential.

Strategic planning is a concept that was originally used in the business sector. Now, it has transferred over into governmental and nonprofit sectors.

Donald Grayer, founder of Business Economic Trade Association (BETA (TM) said, "A strategic plan is a tool that gives the organization a chance to maximize effectiveness and efficiencies based on the internal and external environment." An analysis within the organization is needed to help with the strategic planning process.

A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (S.W.O.T.) analysis is the method used to help write strategic plans. Your strengths focus on what you do well within your organization. These items bring success to your organization. Your weaknesses are based on areas of improvement. Opportunities are areas that you can capitalize on within the marketplace. And threats are external factors that will negatively affect the growth of your organization.

Grayer also states that when organizations both for-profit and nonprofit utilize strategic planning it helps them to be proactive instead of reactive. Having a plan gives you a sense of focus and direction, but there are times when you have to deviate from the plan to keep the business going.

"Even though your business plan should serve as a guide for starting and operating your business, it is a living document and is subject to change. It's important to note that today's business climate is not static and may require some 'course correction' as you go," said Tucker.

This task of creating a business plan or strategic plan does require involvement of leadership and management teams. A planning committee can be crated to help facilitate the process. Furthermore, you have to consider the cost involved in writing your plan. According to Grayer, "the average cost to develop a strategic plan for any organization will vary based on the engagement and the services provided.

For more information about writing a business plan, contact SCORE Memphis @

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