Strategic and Business Planning
From time to time, every organization needs to step back, look around, and strategize about its future. Whether you are the owner of a small business or in charge of a non-profit organization or cooperative, our firm can guide you through that process.
Small Business Planning
When we say ‘small business’, we include a wide range, such as the retail sector, social enterprises, family farms, cooperatives, home-based business and start-ups.
We begin the review with any problem area you have identified. Then we help you examine your operations, probing your strategies for sales and marketing, pricing and cost controls, customer service, human resources and the development of new products and services. What has changed in the marketplace since your last business plan review? How has your business evolved? Perhaps most importantly, what are your goals for the business and your personal life? What do you want to accomplish or experience?
David Sherwood is an accredited trainer for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs program on adding value to small business. He is the former owner of a dairy farm. Lucie Brunet is the author of a guide to small business management and the former owner of Marlborough House Bed and Breakfast. What we do best is working with the client and strategizing. When in-depth financial analysis is required, we team with other consultants, such as Sol-Air Consultants Inc.
Here are some of the clients we have worked with:
• Ovens Park Camp Ground
• Coop Maintenance A1+
• Enviro-Safe Cleaning
• Ethni City Catering
• Anak Filipiana and Books
• Chambers of Commerce and business associations (Cornwall, Maxville, Hawkesbury, Alexandria)
Strategic Planning for Non-Profit Organizations
Strategic planning is aimed at the big picture. It looks for enough information to spot the important problems that exist at the present time and the major trends that will affect the future. Knowing you can’t do everything at once, it establishes a limited number of top priorities or changes in direction.
Here are some of the organizations we have served:
• Eastern Ontario Health Unit
• Prescott-Russell Community Services
• Municipalities of North Glengarry and South Stormont
• Raisin River Conservation Authority
• Service d’entraide communautaire (Ottawa French Language Community Services)
• Canadian Institute of Planners
• Communication Canada
• UCFO (the French language farmers’ association for Ontario)
A simple, low budget, strategic planning exercise may consist of a retreat session with the board of directors. We are highly skilled facilitators who can work with you on an agenda to get the most out of this precious time.
Two of the classic elements of a Strategic Planning process are a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and an Environmental Scan. It is possible to do a “quick and dirty” version of these within a retreat session. However, if time and funds permit, it is worth investing in a more systematic review. We can engage the organization in more creative, tailored processes.
Organizations with a public service mandate normally engage in some form of external or public consultation. It is also necessary to consider internal aspects such as your organizational structure, board governance, staff and financial capacity.
The vision and mission statements are reviewed as part of the process.
We like to keep the Strategic Planning document short and to the point, which actually increases the odds that people will refer to it on an ongoing basis.
We generally append a Year One “implementation plan” with bullet points listing the principal changes the organization intends to make in order to start moving on each of the strategies. That document is prepared in consultation with senior staff and would contain benchmarks or other means of monitoring progress that could be reviewed annually. Once the Board approves it, staff can work out the operational details.