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Introduction to business planning for education and skills training oranisations

Education & Skills Training – Planning your business Success

A few years ago I was delivering my business coaching services to a couple of school Principals. The Principals were located in different cities, with different enrollment and staffing levels, the size and age of the schools were different; one was a religious school whilst the other was a public mainstream school and the principals were of different age brackets with their own unique sets of values.


Both Principals were highly competent in the role of Principal and sort after by other schools in the area. Both Principals had been previously been Principals at other schools and were respected in the education community, yet I was surprised at the knowledge level both had on the Business Management aspects.

I met with the principals regularly for more than 2 years, seeing one principal on a Tuesday and the other on a Thursday, simply for convenience. I had never been part of the teaching fraternity previously yet I had been on a number of school boards, and worked with the education system to introduce gateway and other job training programmes, providing some understanding of the school systems.

My Business Coaching role was to support the Principals in managing the Human Resources and business component of the school, allowing the curriculum and teacher delivery component to flourish uninterrupted. During my coaching period there were a number of business management events that continued to pop up on a regular basis that needed to be resolved in a timely manner. Such events could have been mitigated by the schools having a business plan and business risk management structure. 

Unfortunately the Human Resources and Business Management components are not taught to Principals and other senior educators as a rule, leaving those in the position of responsibility to develop their own knowledge basis once they are in a position of responsibility.

I discovered that even the most competent and highly educated people are not necessarily provided with the knowledge of how to manage a business successfully, what obligations need to be adhered to in Employment Law, the Holiday Act, Health and Safety Act and other regulatory obligations.

Further it was evident that the schools had an exceptional curriculum plan, enrollment plan, and teacher plan, yet there was very little business planning or forecasting other than the expectation that the following year will be similar to this year. 

By coaching the principals in developing and implementing a Business Plan that included the Human Resources and other business obligations, the schools begun to function more smoothly and the stress level of the Principals and support staff reduced dramatically.

A Business Plan is one of the most important business components every educational body or institute should have as a business plan will guide the business through the events and hurdles that occur with some regularity.

The importance of planning

Starting or restarting a retail business carries a level of excitement no different to the start of any race with knowledge of some competitors and some unknown. The same applies in business as there is always an element of the unknown with how many prospective customers might purchase from the business, will the customers enjoy the experience, do the customers like what is on offer, and will they return to buy more.

 The business owner feels passionate and enthusiastic about what they might achieve when embarking on the adventure of retail with the desire to transform their business idea into profitable and successful outcomes. 

The retail business owner feels empowered by the opportunity, driven by perceived successful outcomes, and further fueled by the urgency that success must occur in a timely manner so as to maintain a platform of financial business sustainability. The retail business owner would want to capture the lion’s share of the market before the competitor re-groups and responses to the new business.

After enduring the onslaught of entering the market and battling for market share, then discovering that things haven’t gone the way the business owner wanted them to, tiredness and despondency can fog the pathway forward to better outcomes.

Going into battle without a battle plan would be madness for any general to even think of doing as the losses would be great with few benefits, yet some enthusiastic business owners feel that marching forward whilst blindfolded might be worth the risk.

Passion and enthusiasm should not be confused with strategically planned drive and determination, as there is a mountainous difference between acting on impulse and acting on a measured approach.

Simply relying on passion to succeed can also cause the downfall of the very outcome the business owner was hoping to achieve. Passion and enthusiasm can easily override sensibility and a measured approach in starting a business borne from an idea, yet it is also passion that is one of the most important ingredients needed for a business owner or entrepreneur to initiate and grow a business.

What is a Business Plan

The meaning of the word ‘plan’ as described in the dictionary is “the representation of anything drawn on a plane, and forming a map or chart; a scheme devised; a project; disposition of parts according to a certain design; a method or process; a way; a mode. To invent or contrive for construction; to scheme’ to devise; to form in design.”  

Why have a Business Plan

Developing a plan prior to initiating a retail business would assist in identifying any risks that may arise and how those risks could be reduced should they occur. The plan can also guide the business owner to issues such as how to sustain the retail business whilst moving through various hurdles once the business has been established, and the identifying financial impacts of the business from conception, through to profitability.

Types of Business Plan

Basic Plan

A basic plan may be used for an individual starting their own business in providing goods to an organization or collection of organisations. It may be that the individual has left employment and is offered a long term contract with the organization they had left or another similar organization. For the individual to provide such services, they may have to initiate a business entity as a sole trader or possibly a limited company.

In doing so the individual may consider developing a basic plan for their business, as there may only be a low level third party (i.e. accountant, lawyer) requirement to view such a plan. The basic plan would simply entail the steps taken to transition from past employee into a business entity, and further maintain a level of financial sustainability that suits the individual.

A basic plan might include information such as:

  • Who owns the business (individual or shares)?
  • What type of business entity is required?
  • How will the financial matters be managed?
  • Are there any medium or long term liabilities that need to be managed?
  • What are the products/services of the business?
  • Are there any constraints in conjunction with the customers?
  • What are the business liabilities and risks?
  • Will the business plan for any further employees in the future?
  • What is the duration of any long term contracts, and what happens when the contracts expire?
  • What is the exit strategy of the business?

If the business has no intention of employing staff, does not operate from a leased or purchased facility (operated from home), does not require any marketing input to gain or maintain a customer base, and has no or low equipment overheads to maintain the product/service, a basic plan may provide all that is needed for the business to operate.

Comprehensive Plan

When wanting to initiate, restart, or grow a business that has employees, regular overhead costs, or a need to gain and maintain a customer base, having a plan for the business would be valuable.

As with all business entities in NZ business ownership carries a significant level of accountability. The business owner is entirely accountable for all actions within the business and carries the responsibility for anything that occurs within the business they own, whether the business is new or long established.

A component of that responsibility is the business owner being aware of the risks the business may be affected by, having enough financial support to ensure the business will survive the start-up process, implementing and monitoring all regulatory and compliance measures, and ensuring that all employees and other stakeholders are protected by the required employment and safety measures required of the business.

If things go wrong within the business, it is the business owner’s responsibility to show they had taken all practicable steps to identify the possible risks and have a plan to mitigate them. If no evidence can be provided showing the due diligence the business owner has taken, it is likely the business owner could be held accountable by the current government Laws and Acts for negligence of operating the business at risk.

As a business grows to a size needing employees, and further requiring a director, or board of directors that are not owners of the business, liability for any adversities within the business will reflect on the directors initially, then liability may continue through to the shareholders of the business, depending on the adversity and business structure.

One of the mechanisms to reduce negligence is to construct a business plan that would indicate the risks that have been considered and the actions to be applied to mitigate the risks, should they occur.

The business plan should include the critical operational components of the business that need to be managed, supply chain requirements, and the financial impact of implementing the business as well as any growth strategies. Prior to constructing the business plan, identifying who will view the plan and why, will influence the level of detail required. Third party stakeholders viewing the plan will want to understand the direction the business in heading in, and will seek to gain confidence in the soundness of the business, including the competency of the business owner.

Stakeholders that may seek to view a business plan:

  • Shareholders (Stock Market listed)
  • Management team & employees
  • Regulatory & compliance stakeholders
  • Investors
  • Banks (for borrowing)
  • Suppliers (supply agreements)
  • Large Customers (supply agreements)
  • Community (based on the product/service)

The business plan should provide enough detail for the plan to clearly indicate the information required to specify what type of business entity it is, what is the purpose of the business, who owns the business, is there enough financial input, what are the risks and have they been mitigated.

There are many types of templates for business plans for a wide range of businesses ranging from owner operator sized businesses through to multi-national corporations. Small to medium business entities wouldn’t be expected to produce the depth of detailed documentation more commonly produced in businesses listed on the stock exchange, or the multi-national corporations, yet there is a framework with minimal information to provide a clear pathway and intent for the business, without the need to document details that may not be significant to the business.


Key elements of a Business Plan>

Sustaining your Business Plan and making it work for you>


Noel Rodgers MBA – CMC

Business Advisor 

For further information on this subject please email Noel Rodgers 

E   M 0274 775583  


Introduction to business planning for education and skills training organisations

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