Business planning and strategy

Watch our short video that explains how to write a business plan or organisational strategy.

A simple strategy called ‘Six Critical Questions’ helps when thinking about business planning. To get the most out of these questions, they should ideally be discussed as a group with trustees, staff, and volunteers.

Here are the six questions.

Why does your organisation exist?

Our core purpose is what gets us out of bed and keeps us inspired. This question aims to achieve a simple line or two that effectively defines your overarching mission. Organisations need to give this some considerable thought though, it’s not as simple as it sounds.

How do we behave, what are our values and how do we live by them?

Values define who we are and are captured in the way we behave and how we do business. Ask yourself what your core values and organisational beliefs are, and then think about how these translate into the workplace.

What do we do?

Can you describe what you do clearly and accurately, in a way different audiences can understand? This sounds simple, but many organisations struggle to define this. A great starting point is to list your projects and activities. In the process of listing, you begin to gain organisational understanding.

How will we succeed?

This is your effective and operational business plan or strategy. There are many paths to success, and strategy is about choosing yours. Rather than having every detail mapped out, you can try having three ‘strategic anchors’ that fit your organisational profile and make sense to all, that can inform day to day decisions. When we are clear on our strategy, it’s much easier to distinguish between opportunities and distractions, decide what’s important and what’s not, make day to day decisions and choose what to focus on.

What’s most important right now?

When organisations have different teams that pursue different agendas, the result can be chaotic, frustrating, or confusing. Organisations can do anything they wish, but they cannot do everything right now. Decide what you are going to focus on and what’s going to make the biggest impact on your core purpose.

Who must do what?

In an organisation, this is about roles and responsibilities. Trustees and chief executives generally make important decisions and include staff and volunteers in this process. It’s the sum of the parts which is important.

You can find out about these six questions at