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  • Katie Stone

3 easy steps to using what we know as educators to create a SMART business plan - Part 1



I don't make New Year's resolutions.


Why?


Because I *always* break them.


Each January I make some kind of a resolution that I will blatantly never keep - no more chocolates EVER! Go to the gym twice a week ALL THE TIME!



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The fact is that while these are things I would *like* to achieve, my lifestyle and personality doesn't allow for them, and because they're generally made on a whim, without much planning or thought ("Quick, it's December 31st, better make a New Year's resolution!" ๐Ÿ˜ฃ) they never, ever happen.


So, yeah. New Year's resolutions I don't hold with.


Making a SMART business plan though? That, I can get behind - because I can use what I learned about creating targets for children to help me make a plan that will actually be used.

Here's how to do it.


To create sensible targets, evaluate what came before (SWOT Analysis)


Just as teachers analyse their students' progress before setting a new term's targets (oh, the delights of inputting it all into SIMS ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜), as a business, it's important to look at where you are NOW, before setting targets for the future.


The simplest way to do this is using a SWOT analysis grid, which sounds very business-like and professional and as though you should be wearing a suit, but actually just means you take a look at the business and think about what might affect it both internally and externally.


Here's how to do it.


1. Draw up a list of factors that you want to consider when analysing each area of the grid.


HR - People, volunteers, ideal clients

Environment - physical location, building, equipment

Financial - grants, funding, other income

Processes - how you do what you do

Past experiences - ones that affect how you run your business


2. (S) Begin with your business's strengths. Using the areas above, consider what gives your business an edge over the competition, what makes it stand out. Look at your business from your client's point of view. Why did they choose you? Have you had any positive feedback in 2021 that helps you to pinpoint what it is clients love about you?


3. (W) Now consider the same areas, but think about your business's weaknesses. What is it about your business that means a competitor could have an edge over you? A real top tip is to put yourself into the mindset of a competitor. What might they see as your weakness?


4. (O) Opportunities - this area invites you to think about factors that are EXTERNAL to your business, which you could leverage to your advantage. Use the areas outlined at the top to help focus your thoughts. For example, are there any trends that you could take advantage of? Are there any developments in your area that you could use to your advantage? Are there any strengths of your business that you could turn into opportunities?


5. (T) Threats - once again, this area invites reflection on external threats to your business. Do your assessed weaknesses expose you to any threats? What are your competitors doing that could threaten you? A threat could be anything external that could negatively affect your business, so Covid and Brexit may well be in there.


6. Looking at your completed grid, are there any patterns you can see? How might these patterns affect your plan for 2022?


In the interests of clarity, here is my completed grid from 2020 (WAGOLL is teacher speak for 'what a good one looks like.'):



There are a million SWOT analysis grids out there, and honestly, some of the best plans are the ones where you scribble them on a piece of paper, but in the interests of completeness and to save you time googling (and also because I spend far too much time on Canva), if you would like a printable SWOT analysis grid, you can download one by clicking the picture below (no need for email addresses, it's 100% strings free).





Next week's blog will cover what to DO with your newly filled out, shiny and fantastic SWOT analysis grid - we're going to create some action points!


If you'd like some help filling out a SWOT analysis grid, or if you've already done that and you know that one of your goals for 2022 is to outsource more work, I'm your gal! I help educational businesses with their admin needs, and specialise in systems and processes - I love finding ways to streamline and automate so you can add the personal touch where it's really needed!

Book a chat with me today and find out how we can work together to scale your business in 2022!


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