Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Four Faith Venture Business Plan Musts

Over the last 11 years at Belay Enterprises, I have had the opportunity to write and review numerous business plans for possible faith venture enterprises. They all seek to create opportunity for individuals or communities rebuilding lives. This morning, I had the chance to review a business plan draft for an exciting faith venture in a different community. I am also facing two looming decisions related to a new Belay business and the expansion of an existing one. In all three cases, I’m reminded of the importance of the following four items to any faith venture business plan:
  • It’s important to answer this question up front: Is it a for-profit or non-profit business? Either structure will work but there are definitely pros and cons to each possibility with resulting ramifications for the business plan. It’s often very complicated and difficult to try a hybrid of the two.
  • Faith venture practitioners tend to be passionate about the mission side of the venture and the resulting business plans tend to reflect that. But I believe the business needs to lead the mission and not vice versa. That should be reflected in the plan. Every time we have reversed it, the plan has not worked for us. And when you are doing the business, you are always doing the mission.
  • There are probably other organizations attempting the same thing in other communities. It’s important to talk to them and in particular ask them about the problems and the pitfalls.
  • Finally—and this is probably most important- every faith venture business plan needs a monthly cash flow budget. A yearly budget is not enough. It takes time for businesses to get up to speed. How will the cash flow function under scenarios where growth is slower or faster than anticipated? It’s been my experience that plans always take longer and cost more than expected. It’s really hard to realize profits right away. Do you have the resources to succeed in the different scenarios? It’s better to know that answer at the start.


Just a couple of rapid fire thoughts before I return to faith venture planning...what else would be important to a faith venture business as mission plan?

2 comments:

Jeffrey D. Reimer, CPA said...

As a CPA working with small businesses and nonprofit organizations, I have seen many startups over the years. Those that fail, often failed to plan. A business plan will help identify potential problems before they hit, such as cash shortages, and allow time to address the issue proactively instead of reactively when there are many more restrictions, such as time.

Justin Forman said...

Great words. This is spot on. Would love to share this on the Businessasmissionnetwork.com.