Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
So you really think you can run a business without a plan, well that’s what I thought. But boy was I mistaken.
Running a business without a plan is like playing ball in heels, which maybe possible, but not without disastrous consequences. And there’s plenty of help available out there, no matter which industry you are starting in.
When I was starting up I know what I wanted to do but had no idea how to put a plan together, especially the financial forecasts. How could you put a price on a service, especially if the organisation is not for profit. That’s when I had advice from Business Link, an extremely valuable service for self starters, and then the Enterprise Hub at the University of Kent. I remember how encouraged I felt after speaking to the team. They also helped me apply for funding, which I did get as well as the opportunity to pitch my idea in front of judges – and I won the second prize of £2000 for Joining Hands, and that was an amazing feeling. Five years later, here I am, I do understand what Social Return on Investment is (SRI) and how important it is to be able to measure it, even if not without difficulty. So now that I know a little about business planning, I would like to help you in much the same way I was helped.
I am running a Business Planning for Beginners workshop on Thursday this week, so the 30th January from 1pm to 5pm. A business plan is a framework of your activities which is flexible and responsive to opportunities. The aims of the afternoon are: to come up with some long term and short term objectives, to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in case you wonder what that means) analysis but not before we work together to set your mission, your purpose and goals.
Too many small businesses think that strategic planning is for big business but businesses that survive and prosper are those who meet their customers’ needs and you cannot meet customers’ needs if you haven’t thought about who you are selling to, what are your prices based on, who is your competition and what is your USP (unique selling point). Of course, you also need a marketing strategy, financial forecasts and I will suggest a few places where you can get that help. There is plenty of advice available from Enterprise hubs, your business bank, mentors, Chambers of Commerce and business academies around the County. You could also test your product at pop up shops if there are any in your area. We are fortunate enough to have Pop Up Ashford which has helped a number of business start-ups since it started last year. So it may be useful to book a space if you are unsure about starting up or would like to test your product. There is also a vast selection of free Business Plan templates available online. You just need to see which tickles your fancy and is more suited to your business needs and your industry.
So the 30th January from 1pm to 5pm at the Community Crafts Centre. There is tea/coffee of course and plenty of biscuits.
See you then