Financial Planning

In order to put together financing, you will be best advised to go through the following steps. This will prepare you with necessary documents and understanding to make the case with a banker, investor or grantor. Common goals and objectives unite an organization. The strategies you develop will help you execute your action plans. The measures you put in place will generate accountability and objectivity. You need to approach this process as a cyclical matter: plan, do, check and act. This way you never stop reaching to improve.

The steps outlined here have some overlap and include some looping back to get them right, so we shouldn't think of this as a step-by-step, linear process. You will find yourself in cycles of decisions and discovery. If you begin at the beginning you will be prepared to understand those things you discover about the market, your group and yourself.

Begin at the beginning
A common thread runs through any marketing challenge. Whether it is a small business, or a regional development group seeking to expand commercial activity, the beginning of the project is determining the right questions to ask. These questions will drive the need for further research, development of tools, identification of additional resources, etc.

The market development exercise is really a project management, with goals, objectives, strategies and measures. But before these issues are addressed, a cool assessment of capability is needed. It is a mistake to go forward in planning by simply doing a marketplace scan with the idea that "we'll just do whatever looks hot today." Before a group or company looks to the marketplace, they need to understand precisely what capabilities exist in their organization or region.

Assessment of resources
The first step is to inventory your resources. Begin broadly by placing your perceived assets under areas such as: a) human resources; b) financial; c) technical; d) management; and e) physical. The process must be objective and can be most efficiently done with the help of an experienced facilitator.

Next, create a list to include accessible, relevant resources that could be attached through alliance or associations with other entities. For instance, as a small business, you may need to identify outside trucking or sub-contractors or perhaps do a labor shed analysis. You need to look for resources you may need to add inputs or service to the business. This is a second layer of resources that would be available. Be objective.

You now have the beginnings of an asset inventory in two layers: primary and secondary. These can be analyzed to express your capabilities. If these resources are organized in a database format, they are then available through sorting mechanisms and accessible for analysis. Don't add much detail until you've done the following.

Rank Your Resources to the Marketplace
Even before you boldly go out into the marketplace you need to compare your resources to what you believe "is" the market. A third step is to sort these resources into rankings so that the strength areas become obvious. Notice the weakness areas and determine if these can be shored up either with internal changes or by identifying outside resources. Ask yourself if the weaknesses threaten or negate the strengths.

Be innovative in how to value-rank these resources. You could begin by ranking your resources simply by what you have the most of. Then start comparing these assets with other realities to determine which resources might have the most impact or value. Don't take anything off the table yet.

You now understand what you have to work with. Next, you are ready to express your identity and goal. If you do this exercise before you've assessed your capabilities, you may develop your mission and goal based on myths.

Each of the targets explored at left for capital will require the same information, evidence of planning and personal presentation. The formats will be somewhat different from one to the next. Certainly the needs of each will vary substantially as discussed above. Know your audience. Consider this your first marketing challenge.

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