Sunday, July 10, 2011

Non Profit Business Plan Advice for Building and Growing Your Organization (Part One)

Advice From A Caterpillar

I’ve worked with dozens of non profit organizations over the years, some successful and some not. The one thing they all seemed to have in common: no business plan. Many small businesses think it’s all about the budget. (Most of the non profits I’ve worked have been small to mid-size theatrical companies.) In every community group, amateur theatre company, charity organization and professional non profit theatre I've been involved with, the budget was the thing that mattered most.

No matter what your organization’s focus, it must be run as a (for profit) business in order to achieve longevity and success. Though it might seem like common sense that a new start up should have a well thought out plan, you might ask why an established organization needs a business plan.  The answer is pretty simple: to have direction, measure your progress and achieve your goals. The business plan is your blueprint or road-map to success. It is also the most necessary tool your business will need when seeking financial assistance, whether it be investors, grants or loans. All the information you will be asked for should be concisely worded and demonstrated in your business plan.

The U.S. Small Business Administration says, “A business plan should be a work in progress. That's because your business will evolve over time, and be influenced by outside factors such as the economy and local conditions. Even successful business owners should maintain a current business plan to ensure they remain knowledgeable on the elements that can affect continued success.”  Truly sound advice.

In this first part, I thought I’d take a look at a couple of business experts. The best place to start when formulating a successful business plan is to examine the philosophies and achievements of those who know it best. In part two, I’ll be discussing how to take their advice and apply it effectively to your business.

Guy Kawasaki is a popular business guru. If you want to be inspired and stay in touch with the current business trends, I highly recommend you follow him on Twitter @GuyKawasaki  and Facebook. The author of ten critically acclaimed books, Kawasaki is currently offering three of his older books: The Macintosh Way, Database 101, and The Computer Curmudgeon, FREE in an effort to persuade readers to purchase his latest book, Enchantment : The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions
Kawasaki rose from a humble childhood in Hawaii, to attain his BA at Stanford in Psychology, followed by his MBA at UCLA. He was influential at Apple before starting Fog City Software in 1989 and then returned to Apple in 1995 as an Apple Fellow. He left Apple to start, which later became Garage Technology Ventures, which serves as a venture capital firm, directly investing in start up tech companies.
Guy Kawasaki is currently a co-founder of Alltop (Innovation.alltop), an “online magazine rack” in addition to continuing with Garage. 
Kawasaki’s book, The Art of the Start, is described on his website as “getting down to the real-world tactics of pitching, positioning, branding, recruiting, bootstrapping, and rainmaking”. Important information we all can use when setting up a new business plan. 
Kawasaki's charisma and enthusiasm are infectious .  It’s no wonder his books and advice are highly sought out around the world. Guy Kawasaki's approach to business focuses heavily on social engagement. He believes in the passionate involvement of the employees and the public (consumers). Branding and connecting your business with your target market, building a strong relationship, are key strategies used by Kakasaki.
William J. Byrnes
 The main reason I selected William J. Byrnes was because of his wonderfully detailed book, Management and the Arts (which is actually a textbook) that I having been reading over the past year as part of my own research. An academic scholar, Professor Byrne focuses his life work on educating students and companies on how to successfully set up, run, and manage arts organizations around the world.
Byrnes received his BA in English from the University of New Mexico and his MFA in Design and Production from the School of Theatre, Film, and Television at UCLA. Immediately after completing his education, Byrnes spent the early part of his teaching career working for numerous universities and in various capacities with different arts organizations. This hands-on experience as an administrator, teacher and designer, greatly increased his knowledge and ability to formulate good standards for arts administration and business practices.
Byrnes first notable work was his 22 years with the renowned Oberlin College in Ohio where he started as a lecturer, became a professor of theatre and Assistant Director of the school’s conservatory dance and theatre programs. He left Oberlin to serve as Florida State University’s Director of Theatre Management master’s program where he also taught Arts Administration.
Internationally, Byrnes has taught and lectured at schools and conferences in Tokyo, Singapore, Bejing, and across Germany. He currently serves on the Editorial Advisory Committee for the Asia Pacific Journal of Arts and Cultural Management
In the U.S., Byrnes is a member of the National Theatre Conference, a director on the ESTA Foundation board, and the Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE). He has been actively involved with the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) since 1985, having served on the board, as Vice President and President (2000-2002); he currently is the editor of Inside USITT.
Byrnes currently serves as Associate Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southern Utah University. William J. Byrnes management concepts for arts organizations are geared toward structure and stability. Quality and community involvement are two of his keys to success; while constantly striving for a strong management and business development, blending the creative goals with the necessary planning and management for continued success.
 Your Business Plan:
Here are a few of the critical key components Kawasaki and Byrnes suggest donors and investors are looking for in your business plan:
Keep it simple. Donors and investors aren’t going to spend a lot of time reading your business plan. Too many unnecessary details may cause them to put your proposal down and go to the next. Keep it simple and keep them engaged.
Be specific. Vague generalities will make the reader think you haven’t done your homework, or haven’t truly established your niche in the market. Simple, clear and concise wording describing exactly what your business will accomplish is what investors and donors are looking for.
Prove your ability to provide a unique product. What is your niche? What makes your business or product unique compared to the competition? Make it clear that your business offers something others don’t, showing the value and need for your existence.
Be profitable in 3 to 5 years. You need to show that your business can make a substantial profit and be self sufficient in a period of no more than 3 to 5 years. This is a little different for non profit organizations (especially charities) but your financial information should show that you have carefully planned for the financial stability and the well-being of your organization. Investors want to see a profit. Donors want to see responsible and substantial results. Loan institutions want to be sure to get their money back with interest.
What is the most important part of your business plan? The Executive Summary.  
It is the first thing (possibly the only thing) that investors and donors see. If it isn’t informative, short, concise, well written and attention-grabbing; they probably won’t even look at the rest of your plan. It has to be specific and dynamic. It’s the first thing they see and the last thing you’ll write.
 • • • • •
Part Two will explore more details for writing the perfect business plan.
 • • • • • 
References, recommended reading and links:
Alltop website.
Management and the Arts website.
Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment on Facebook.
Guy Kawasaki on Facebook.
Guy Kawasaki on Twitter.!/GuyKawasaki
Guy Kawasaki Website.
William J. Byrnes Biography. Southern Utah University.

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