Hmm . I’m guessing it wasn’t just random that planning for nonprofits came up a lot this week while I was traveling and talking to several entrepreneurship leaders and mentors. I don’t have data, just a hunch gathered from talking and tweeting and reading, but it seems like nonprofits, social enterprises and the like are appearing faster than regular for-profit businesses.
I just finished a whirlwind speaking trip that included both the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Notre Dame and the Disney Entrepreneurship Center in Orlando. It was too quick a trip but, in both places, I was dealing with smart, hard-working leaders who are doing a ton of good for the entrepreneurs they lead. Both Laura Hollis (who leads the Gigot Center) and Jerry Ross (who leads the Disney Entrepreneur Center) shared the same thought, which I’ve summarized here in my words, not theirs:
Nonprofits, you need to get over your mental block about business planning, business, and management. Your success or failure is as much related to management, metrics, planning, and accountability as all those other organizations. You manage money. Your mission depends on it. You need planning to manage changing strategy, missions and meanings translated to metrics, allocating resources, working towards priorities, managing people, and getting things done. You don’t need just a business plan; you need that plus a planning process to keep the plan live and growing and changing.
Forget the myth of the one-time-use business plan document you do once to overcome a hurdle. Think instead about that plan which lives on your computer and gets reviewed and revised regularly. Call it a live plan. Use it to manage and steer your organization. Use it to optimize your efforts and the causes you serve.
Would you take a trip without planning it first? Would you not revise the plan if a flight gets canceled? Why then would you run an organization without planning?