Issue #07 February 2007

In This Issue

  1. Our recent work
  2. Bullshit and business plans
  3. DOs and DON’Ts of community consultation
  4. Are you looking for an office?
  5. Can we help?

Our Recent Work

Since moving to new premises at 14 Dean Street, Balfour Consulting has:

  1. Won two awards.

  2. Undertaken community consultation for a third project with the Department of Main Roads.

  3. Provided marketing and public relations support for a series of major Townsville events including the first Townsville Writing Festival and the first Family Summit.

  4. Undertaken two major market research projects.

  5. Developed business and implementation plans for three NQ organisations.

  6. Undertaken sponsorship and marketing for the Townsville Mayor’s Christmas Tree Appeal, helping raise a record total of over $100,000.

To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a committee.

Bullshit and Business Plans

Colin Balfour

I was once asked to develop a business plan but "without the bullshit".  I didn't accept the challenge.  However, it did get me thinking about how to make business plans relevant to small business operators.

No sane person would jump on a yacht and go sailing the South Pacific without charts, satellite navigation equipment or at the least a compass.  Yet many businesses sail off into financial uncertainty without the benefit of any formal planning process.  A one-person business may survive this approach, but once you have to deal with staff, multilayered marketing activities and greater financial demands, planning is essential.

If you run a small business, then you only need a small business plan.  This plan should cover five key areas as follows:

  1. A snapshot of where you are now and why.
  2. A clear understanding of where you want to be in five years.
  3. The issues currently impacting on your business.
  4. Strategies to address these issues and get you to where you want to be.
  5. An operational plan to implement these strategies over at least the next 12 months.

Your business objectives are critical and must be clearly defined in financial and other terms.  It is always a good idea when thinking about objectives to consider lifestyle, not just dollars.  Being the richest man in the graveyard is never a good look!

A business plan that doesn't include an implementation plan - now that is bullshit!  It would be like having a car without wheels - the possibility of going somewhere but not the means.  A good implementation plan is measurable, accountable and properly resourced.  It is the day-to-day part of your business plan that regularly measures your progress toward achieving those five-year objectives.

A good business plan is like a good marriage - it works most the time but still needs regular care and attention to stay on track and stay successful.  A bad business plan is like a bad marriage - disaster!  Having no business plan is like being single but dating someone who is married - it may be fun now, but at some point it will definitely get messy.

While "one size fits all" is the rule if you're buying T-shirts in Patpong, it doesn't work with business plans.  Every business is different and operates in different circumstances.  There are no set formulas or tick-a-box processes that will satisfactorily solve your business planning needs.  Of course there is a basic process, but it must be adapted and customised to be relevant to your particular business needs.

So, you can have a good business plan without bullshit.  You just have to understand that what you want is not always what you need, and if your business plan covers only what your business needs then you have managed to minimise the bullshit.  The best thing is to get advice when going into the business planning process, but make sure you have your bullshit detector switched to high.

Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

DOs and DON’Ts of Community Consultation

Mary Balfour

This list has been put together from experience, and the suggestions are also applicable to general communications.

DO promise only what you can deliver.

DON’T make promises you can’t keep.

DO follow up.

DON’T fail to follow up.

DO provide information on what is being done.  

DON’T talk about worst case scenarios.

DO use visuals where possible to emphasise key points.

DON’T rely entirely on words.

DO use examples and anecdotes that give practical illustrations.

DON’T generalise too much or use meaningless figures.

DO avoid jargon and define any necessary audience technical terms and acronyms

DON’T use language that your may not understand.

DO take responsibility for any problem.

DON’T try to shift blame to another person or organisation.

DO attack the issue.

DON’T attack the person or organisation.

DO refute any false allegations that are raised.

DON’T repeat or refer to false allegations.

DO assume that everything you say and do is part of the public record.

DON’T make side comments or “confidential” remarks.

DO use humour but direct it at yourself.

DON’T use humour in relation to serious issues.

DO base your remarks on empathy, competence and honesty.

DON’T get into protracted debates or sound condescending.

DO remain calm.  Use aggressive questions or remarks as an opportunity to say something positive.

DON’T lose your temper or become emotional.

DO ask whether you have given a clear presentation/communication.

DON’T assume you have been understood.

Course details from the NSW TAFE ‘Plain English Writing at Work’:

“To ensure each student gets their allocated study time from the date of their initial enrolment, all new enrolments are automatically rolled over in the first year to expire on the 15 November in the next calendar year.”

Are you looking for an office?

Balfour Consulting has a serviced office available in our premises at 14 Dean Street, just five minutes walking distance from the centre of the city.  The office includes a telephone system, Internet access, fax, photocopier and off-street parking.  Furniture can be included if required.  Anyone interested can call us on 4771 4566.

Can we help you?

Balfour Consulting Pty Ltd has a proven track record in the following areas:

  1. Business/Marketing strategic plan development
  2. Facilitated planning workshops
  3. Market and social research
  4. Media and presentation skills development
  5. Public relations
  6. Direct Marketing.

For further information, contact us on (07) 4771 4556 OR e-mail us as at:


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