Many community sports groups find writing a business plan a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be that way. I’d like to share a few tips from my experience as a strategy consultant and Sported mentor to help you make business planning a positive and productive experience.
- Think about why you want a business plan
The first step is to think about why you want a business plan in the first place. There are many good reasons. For example, a business plan can help you to tell the story of your organisation and your goals and aspirations for the future; it can give you a roadmap to help achieve your goals and enable you to measure progress along the way; it can provide you with a compelling case to convince funders and sponsors to support you, and potential new members, employees and volunteers to join you; and it can help you to adapt to change and become sustainable for the long term. So think about who you are writing for and tailor the plan to the specific needs of different audiences.
- Make it inclusive
Writing a business plan should be an inclusive process. Try to involve as many people as possible – for example Board members or Trustees, paid and voluntary staff, young people who use your services, parents and social workers will all bring distinctive and insightful perspectives to the business plan. Developing the plan is a great chance to think about everything you have achieved so far, and to shape your goals for the future. The more involvement and engagement you have from people who have a stake in your club, the more likely your plan is to be successfully implemented.
- Numbers are your friends
Your business plan should include realistic financial projections and forecasts for your Profit & Loss (P&L) and cash flow. Use the numbers to paint a picture of your organisation now and in the future. For example, where do you think your income will come from – funding bodies, corporate sponsors or others? What are your main one-off and recurring costs? How might your club and its finances change over time? List all the main assumptions behind the numbers. Community sport groups often find this section of the plan particularly difficult to complete – there is a lot of support available in the form of templates and advice, so if you find this section challenging, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Include testimonials and case studies
Testimonials and case studies can be a powerful way to bring to life the impact of your work. Ask club members, parents of members and teachers or social workers to describe how the club has made a difference to them. Add case studies of young people whose involvement in your club has helped them overcome challenges in their lives and who have gone on to achieve sporting, academic or other success. Testimonials and case studies can inspire the next generation of members as well as impressing potential funders and supporters and motivating staff and volunteers.
- Write a good executive summary
It’s the first (and sometimes only) section that many people will read, so make sure your executive summary creates a great first impression. Write this section once you have finished the rest of the plan. It should be a concise and impactful summary of all the main sections of the plan.
- Ask a friend
When you have written a good draft of your plan, show it to a business mentor or friend who can stand back from the detail which you are living and breathing every day. Someone who is friendly but independent can offer candid, constructive feedback and can often point out things that are unclear or that you may have missed.
- Keep feeding your plan
Winston Churchill once said that “however beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results”. Your business plan should be a living document, not just a box-ticking exercise. Implementation is key, so review your plan regularly to check whether you are on track – and take action if you are not. Update your plan as circumstances change.
10 questions your business plan should answer
1.Why is your club needed – what social issue does your club exist to address?
2. Who is your main target audience?
3. Why is your club unique?
4. What do you do – what activities or services do you offer?
5. What outcomes are you trying to achieve and how do you measure these outcomes?
6. What is the track record of you and your team?
7. What have you achieved so far?
8. What are your goals for the future?
9. What help and resources do you need to achieve these goals?
10. What is your implementation plan?
This list isn’t exhaustive and doesn’t cover every aspect of business planning. But if you keep these tips in mind, you should be well on the way to writing an effective business plan for your sports club. Good luck!
If you are a member of Sported you can benefit from free expert advice from Anas and the rest of our team of Sported volunteers. Visit Your Sporting Network for more information about our volunteer mentoring service and new Light Touch support service!