You might think working as a SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) volunteer would be very easy, but it’s not. I ought to know, I belong to a consulting group with quite a large number of SCORE volunteers. In fact, as I do my own consulting often at no charge to young entrepreneurial startups, I am forever asking the advice of the group on how to do what I do better. Most of what I do is helping these startups prepare their business plans, strategic marketing plans, and helping them build a core group to take their organization to the top.
One thing I found is that the hardest business plans to create are those for nonprofit organizations which have little or no direction, the even lack a vision or leadership. Generally, nonprofit groups are more concerned with doing a good community service and solving a local problem than they are about making money. Still, if they don’t make any money, they can’t any contributions, or have a way to stay fiscally fit, they really can’t do much good in the world. It’s almost a Catch-22, many of these groups cringe at the idea of charging anyone for anything, and they fail to realize that if something is really worth the services provided, then it is worth being charged for. Sometimes that becomes a hard concept for them to grasp.
Perhaps to it is because many people made it through school without studying free-market economics, but needless to say for whatever reason these groups cannot succeed without considering the costs they will incur in doing all they do. There’s no easy way of course, and every nonprofit group is competing for limited funds during hard economic times. Thus, you can probably understand how hard it is to prepare a business plan with such a mindset. If the organization has no direction, doesn’t know where its money is coming from or lacks visionary leadership it’s hard to even get to square two, or pass the executive summary and mission statement for instance.
Still, without this information, without any sense of direction, the organization probably will not succeed. Sure, some nonprofit organizations can feed off the will of the founder and the founding members, and drain them dry of money in the process. Sometimes it is the exercise of creating a solid business plan for a nonprofit organization which helps them get over this hump. As a consultant you must spend more time in the beginning making sure everyone is on the same page. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.