Written Business Plan and Presentation
BUS 521 – Entrepreneurship and Innovation
“Literacy is critical to economic development as well as individual and community well-being” (Project Literacy Kelowna, 2018, ¶1). There have been reports which note that not only is the United States less educated than the previous generation, but the increasing levels of illiteracy will lead to the United States’ declining ability to compete economically with other nations. The mission is to contribute to the lowering of illiteracy rates in America. The name of the non-profit organization is The Reading Corner. The purpose in creating this organization is to lower rates of illiteracy and give individuals the tools they need to go further in life. The more literate an individual is, the easier they can raise themselves above their current situation.
To achieve a level of success in reducing illiteracy, interactive activities will be included within the programs of the organization. Interactive learning sparks “new passions for students that could eventually evolve into successful careers in later life” (Teach.com, 2015, ¶3). To help foster a love of reading in youth, various activities will be offered. The target market consists of anyone who does not read at the level they should, such as a junior in high school reading at a sixth-grade level. More specifically, the organization will be targeting low income families and individuals, as these are the individuals who are more prone to being illiterate.
The competitive advantage of The Reading Corner are the programs and activities that will be provided. The competition within the market are public libraries and other nonprofit organizations that focus on reading and remedying illiteracy issues in the United States. One of the major risks within the market is the fact that there are numerous nonprofits in existence and penetrating the market might be difficult. Illiteracy leads to many issues within society, but by taking action local communities and society will benefit. Literacy is power over one’s life, and it’s time to give the power back to those who want it.
The Reading Corner is a nonprofit focusing on helping individuals and families to become more literate. The goal is to reduce illiteracy within the United States to help society succeed in various ways. “Literacy combats poverty, improves health, and promotes social development” (Read Organizational Trust, 2017, ¶1). The primary target audience are individuals and families who struggle with reading and are in the low-income bracket. Everyone wants to improve their lot in life and highlighting that benefit will intrigue the primary target market. Our secondary target audience are children and teenagers who struggle with reading. The children and teenagers are the future leaders of the world and focusing on their abilities and successes can lead to great things for the nation. Literacy builds not only a sense of empowerment and confidence within oneself, but it also increases the chance of people doing great things in their lives.
The mission statement of The Reading Corner is: The Reading Corner is a nonprofit organization aimed at reducing illiteracy rates by providing programs and activities to engage the customers. The organization desires to be partners not only with the customers, but with the employees, volunteers and the community, and take responsibility for all daily interactions with each. The aim is to become a regionally recognized nonprofit organization as the place to go for all those who wish to create a better life for themselves and their children. The goal is to obtain moderate growth, gain acknowledgement by the community, and maintain quality relationships with the customers and the community by always putting them first. The Reading Corner: to foster a love of reading to increase the chance of a better life and give back to the community.
The Reading Corner focuses on the wellbeing and success of their customers, in their personal lives and their professional lives. Various programs and activities that are family friendly will be offered to foster interest in reading better. The offered programs and activities are beneficial because they incorporate interactive learning with reading, which helps individuals “to retain more information, [and spark] new passions for students that could eventually evolve into successful careers in later life” (Teach.com, 2015, ¶3). Literacy can help end or alleviate social injustice and the cycle of poverty in low-income families. “Literacy is an authentic and complex social justice issue as it determines many of the factors that contribute to a student’s future quality of life” (The Room 241 Team, 2018, ¶16).
According to Rhonda Abrams, “one of the first things you will do is identify your business model. The term ‘business model’ describes what your company does and how you make money” (Abrams, 2017, p.37). The business model of The Reading Corner is to provide individual and family-oriented services to service the community. The service provided are programs that are centered around increasing literacy, and employing various activities, like plays and family fun nights based off books, to get the members more involved. The services will be targeted to our primary and secondary audiences, individuals in low-income families and children and adolescents who want to better themselves. The employees, managers and volunteers will be community focused, meaning that they know that their every action will affect their community and realize that they are helping to change people’s lives for the better.
Due to the organization being a nonprofit and the target market being low-income families, there will be little to no pricing for the customers. Most of the money coming in will be from donations from the community and fundraisers put on to increase available funds to keep the organization running. There will be a small membership fee that will be charged to all participants in the programs. However, if the customer has extenuating circumstances making it difficult or impossible to pay the membership fee, then the fee will be waived. A service is being provided to the people within the community, but there will also be relations with various local businesses to help strengthen the community. The nonprofit will be housed in a brick and mortar location where individuals can come in to receive our services, but we will also provide customer service via phone, email, and various social media sites, as well as our personal website.
A feasibility analysis allows “the opportunity to open your eyes, ask yourself some tough questions, then determine whether your idea, as originally conceived, needs to be modified, refocused, or changed dramatically” (Abrams, 2017, p.43). Doing this analysis will not only challenge the business concept, but it will allow the identification of components already in place to allow an easy execution, as well as identify the biggest obstacles to face in bringing the business concept to fruition (Abrams, 2017).
The industry is economically healthy, so long as the social economy is healthy and constant donations can be ascertained. The industry can withstand downturns in economic cycles if there is a cause that touches millions of people and is characterized by many competitors rather than a few entrenched, large companies. No matter what the economy looks like, there will always be people looking for ways to improve their lives and the lives of their children. While there are several nonprofits out there, many focusing on literacy and learning, not too many of them offer interactive learning strategies to set themselves apart. The service provided is proven and not unique, is already in demand, is consumable, and is not burdensome. There are many nonprofit organizations out there, each targeting a different societal concern plaguing the nation, but with all these nonprofits cropping up, what is setting them apart from their competition.
The market is vast enough to be able to support the business and has existing channels to reach out and connect with potential customers. Some of the existing channels available for use to reach and connect with potential customers would be to partner up with bookstores like Barnes and Noble or second-hand bookstores, or other entities that deal with literacy like publishing houses, schools, and creators of electronic readers. Other channels to be used would be the internet via social media, and advertising through various mediums. Our biggest obstacle would be our leadership abilities. While the founders of the organization are open to suggestions and guidance from others and have prior experience leading teams, there is no previous experience within this industry and no previous experience starting or running a nonprofit. There has also never been any formal training in entrepreneurship or business management. However, there is a strong willingness to succeed and learn new things, therefore any obstacle can be overcome in time if the founders remain determined to succeed, consistent in their actions, and always act with integrity, especially when faced with competition.
Competitive Analysis, Differentiation Strategy, and Risk Assessment
The main competitors of The Reading Corner are public libraries and other nonprofit businesses that target literacy issues within the United States. Libraries are frequented more by low to middle income individuals who either do not have regular access to books or who do not have the means to purchase books on a regular basis, focusing most of their energy on individuals in their teenage years and younger, as well as families. Many libraries have been pushing family-friendly and kid-friendly programs and activities to help draw that targeted audience in more. Library pricing is low for the most part, as most libraries allow the very first library card free of charge. Later they charge $1 for every card they must replace after that. Typically, what can make a library expensive are the late fees, which vary from location to location, but no matter where they are located, the longer someone has something checked out past the due date, the higher the fine will be. Other nonprofit businesses targeting literacy issues within the United States are also competitors because they have the same focus, alleviating illiteracy in America one person at a time. Most nonprofits that focus on illiteracy focus their attention on children and families. These nonprofits target children and families because to combat illiteracy within the next generation, you must target those who will be leading the charge of the next generation, the children.
Because libraries and nonprofits have little to no direct cost to the consumer, what will differentiate The Reading Corner from others are the services. The Reading Corner will offer activities to draw families with younger children in. Activities such as story time, having family fun nights centered around a book series or book genre, and putting on plays so the children can see the book acted out in real life. The organization will also provide book clubs, open to those of all ages, but mostly focusing on young children to teenagers. Access to digital literacy will also be provided, since “families are increasing their access to digital media, but they lack the knowledge to use it effectively in a way that enables learning” (American Library Association, 2015, ¶2). The organization will partner up with schools, publishing houses, associations dealing with reading, local libraries, and product providers, such as computer manufacturers and electronic book readers.
Due to The Reading Corner being a brick and mortar location, there are numerous risks involved in the day to day operation of the business. Natural disasters, terrorism, utility outage, computer crash, and accidents. A computer crash or utility outage would affect the organization for a time until everything was able to be put back on track. Natural disasters, terrorism, and accidents would affect not only the organization, but the customers as well. In the event of natural disasters, terrorism, or accidents, the potential harm can be lessened if there are protocols in place that direct people on what to do in case of an emergency. One method of alleviating utility outages would be to have someone come by on a regular basis to ensure that everything is running smoothly. The harm from computer crashes can be eliminated by having the files backed up to a remote location so that they can be accessed at any time.
|StrengthsMission orientedFamily focusedImprovement focused||WeaknessesNo brand recognitionPrevalence of illiteracy|
|OpportunitiesAbility to end numerous injusticesDecrease the level of illiteracy||ThreatsCompetitionTechnology|
Strengths of The Reading Corner are being mission oriented, family focused, and improvement focused. Mission oriented means that the organization is more concerned about ending illiteracy than it is about making money, having an impact on society. Family focused shows that the organization is concerned about the family unit in America and is willing to do what it can to ensure that it remains a strong unit by going through this journey together. While the focus is families, anyone who wants to improve themselves regarding reading can come and do so. Weaknesses of the organization are no brand recognition and the prevalence of illiteracy. Due to there being no brand recognition of the company, penetrating the market and making a mark will be more difficult to accomplish, but still doable. The prevalence of illiteracy is a weakness, simply due to the numerous other nonprofits in existence doing their part to end illiteracy in America, and around the world.
Threats to the organization include competition, technology, and societal norms. Due to the number of nonprofits in existence, penetrating the market will be difficult. Technology is rapidly changing, and if there are not people and strategies in place to help deal with the ever-changing world of technology, the organization can fall behind. Opportunities for the organization include the ability to end numerous injustices and decreasing the level of illiteracy. Lowering the level of illiteracy is the goal, and the creation of this nonprofit allows for the opportunity to make it a reality. By lowering illiteracy levels, numerous injustices will also be decreased. There have been numerous studies and research conducted looking at the effects illiteracy has on one’s life. Some shocking facts about illiteracy are: “nearly 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, proving that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime;” “the rate of low literacy in the United States directly costs the healthcare industry over $70 million every year;” and “1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read” (DoSomething, 2018, ¶2). In other words, “illiteracy keeps people trapped in a cycle of poverty and subjugation, limiting life choices and making it difficult to achieve social mobility” (The Room 241 Team, 2018, ¶8). This organization allows for the opportunity to raise the general population’s prospects.
The Reading Corner’s position statement is: For those who want to make an impact in their community, The Reading Corner is a nonprofit that focuses on building the leaders of tomorrow, one book at a time. Since the organization’s goal is to increase literacy, the marketing message relates to their mission. Marketing message: You could be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. To distribute the marketing content, numerous avenues will be used to get the word out to the public. Print media will be used by way of brochures and flyers shortly after conception, as well as advertisements in literary magazines and throughout literary associations, like the Association of American Publishers. Social media will also be used by way of blogs, and the popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. By disseminating the marketing content over these various avenues, the organization will be able to penetrate the market faster and have a greater reach than just doing one type of marketing over the other.
Types of Risks
Due to being a nonprofit, the organization faces some unique risks. Four risks that could adversely affect the organization are funding shortages, data breaches, reputation, and regulatory compliance. Funding is extremely important to a nonprofit, it is “a nonprofit’s lifeblood” (Insureon, 2018, ¶4). Funding can be affected by theft, fraud due to impersonation, and not raising enough money to successfully operate. Due to the permeation of technology, data breaches are becoming more and more of a reality. A data breach is “any incident that exposes sensitive data [of any kind]” (Insureon, 2018, ¶10). In every business reputation is everything, but that is even more so in nonprofits because they rely heavily on positive public opinion to continue obtaining donations. Regulatory compliance is necessary for nonprofits to maintain their tax-exempt status. If regulations are not followed fines can be incurred or the tax-exempt status could be forfeited. One way to mitigate these risks would be to develop a strong positive corporate culture. Developing the values that represent the organization will help get everyone onto the same page which could aid in boosting loyalty, helping recruit, attracting new customers, driving decision-making, and establishing a positive reputation (Abrams, 2017, p.319). Another way to mitigate these risks would be to develop strategies for the processes. Employing total quality management is one strategy to employ as it focuses on the internal standards and guidelines to reduce any errors or defects. A third way to mitigate the possible risks would be to backup all our information onto a third-party location as well as investing in “cyber liability insurance to cover data breach recovery costs” (Insureon, 2018, ¶12). Employing these tactics will aid in eliminating or reducing the possible risks. By planning for any eventual risk that may arise, what to do and who does what when a situation arises will be part of the organizational structure.
Organizational Structure and Management Philosophy
The flowchart above represents the organizational structure of The Reading Corner. The board of directors will be responsible for governing the whole organization and are held accountable for all the policies. Ideally, there will be three directors who meet at a minimum once every quarter. The executive director will be the liaison between the board of directors and the those who oversee all the departments. The assistant director of finance is responsible for overseeing the accounts and aiding in providing financial strategies to promote the growth of The Reading Corner. Tasks that fall under the director of finance are accounting/bookkeeping and risk management. The assistant director of operations is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organization, they help to establish policies and ensure that the organization is running as efficiently as possible. Production of services and technology will fall under the responsibility of the director of operations. The assistant director of development is responsible for overseeing the fundraising efforts and developing and implementing any new programs to aid in ending illiteracy. The assistant director of human resources is responsible for staffing, training, ensuring the organization follows labor laws, and coordinating the volunteers. This department helps to ensure that the staff and volunteers of The Reading Corner are treated fairly and that it is an environment that is conducive to retention and recruiting. The assistant director of marketing is responsible for getting The Reading Corner brand out into the public, as well as organizing public relations and community affairs. The main objective of the director of marketing is to ensure that the organization’s name is out in the community and that there is a positive identity attached to it.
The management philosophy that The Reading Corner will incorporate is a mixture of different leadership styles. The organization will have participative and servant leadership. Even though there is a board of directors and assistant directors in charge of each of the departments, there will be a participative environment where employees and volunteers will be encouraged to participate in making decisions regarding the organization. This type of leadership falls under open-door management where “lots of communication … encourages innovative thinking and initiative among all employees [and volunteers]” (Abrams, 2017, p.314). Servant leadership is putting the needs of the employees and volunteers before that of the individual leader. A key benefit of an approach like this is that it can “lead to developing an organizational culture defined by service, where team members focus on prioritizing the needs of others” (White, 2018, ¶12). This type of leadership style is especially ideal since The Reading Corner is a nonprofit whose sole focus is to serve the community. Through incorporating these leadership styles, staff and volunteers will feel that the organization cares about them and is willing to take their suggestions into consideration, leading to a feeling of oneness.
Key Elements of Corporate Culture and Key Motivational Strategies
Corporate culture is atmosphere of the company. It “consists of the aggregate attitudes, experiences, beliefs, and values of all employees at a business” (Abrams, 2017, p.307). Key elements of the corporate culture are the workplace atmosphere and social responsibility. There are numerous factors that fall under workplace atmosphere, such as: acting fairly, choosing the right people, communication, respect, acknowledgement of contributions, setting standards, and rewarding hard work. First will be to set standards, which consists of stating any expectations and to remain consistent. This can be achieved through creating policies that are clear and concise by way of an employee manual and a volunteer manual. By creating a structure that everyone must abide by, including those in leadership positions, everyone will be on the same page and know how to act and the consequences should they violate any of the standards. Acting fairly will ensure that everyone is treated the same, there are no favorites that are being played and any standards and goals that are set are able to be reached adequately. Choosing employees and volunteers who have the right attitude will aid the organization reach success at a faster rate than choosing employees and volunteers strictly based on knowledge and skill.
Respecting the fact that everyone is different and that each person has their own strengths and weaknesses, while trusting and believing that they can get the job done is paramount. People tend to live up to the trust, or mistrust, that others bestow on them. Communication is big, it can be the difference between success and failure. Ensuring that all lines of communication remain open and available will provide a sense of inclusion and empowerment. Communication will also aid in acknowledging contributions and rewarding hard work. Verbally acknowledging the contributions of employees and volunteers and rewarding them will have a positive effect on the organization and lead to retention. There are three reasons why recognition is important. First, recognized employees are happy employees, if they are content or happy at the office it translates into a happy home life (Craig, 2017, ¶3). Second, appreciative leaders are appreciated leaders, when leaders recognize an employee’s efforts, the employee feels a deep connection to that leadership (Craig, 2017, ¶9). Third, when employees feel recognized, they stick around, which keeps costs down (Craig, 2017, ¶12).
Social responsibility is a key element of the corporate culture, as it “plays an important part in the overall well-being of [the] company” (Abrams, 2017, p.422). Social responsibility helps foster and support a healthy local and national economy as well as establishing the organization’s values and fosters the corporate culture. Perhaps the most pressing reason as to the importance of social responsibility is that the organization is a nonprofit, whose goal is to eliminate illiteracy to help provide better lives for those who participate in the program. A couple of ways The Reading Corner can be socially responsible would be to use energy efficient appliances, recycle, and ensure that all electronic devices are turned off at the end of every day.
Core aspects of The Reading Corner are the facilities, labor, materials and equipment, research and development, insurance, and contingency plans. The facilities need to large enough to section off the building so different programs can be run simultaneously without interfering with each other, while also having room for administrative offices, approximately 53,000 square feet. Since the organization is service based, labor is an important component. Because volunteers also help within the organization, training will be provided to ensure that everyone is on the same page, and limited supervision will be required to ensure that everyone is acting respectfully and in an ethical manner. The most notable items that consist of the materials and equipment would be books, computers, and electronic readers. E-readers are important as “young, reluctant readers prefer e-readers,” as it “has more in common with the electronic devices that young people use all the time” (Kraft, 2015, ¶6-7). Research and development is important so the organization can maintain focus on the changes in the target market, as well as keeping up with changes and advancements in technology and how it can impact the company. Insurance is extremely important, as there are some types of insurances that are required by law like worker’s compensation. Other insurances will help to give the organization an edge in attracting and retaining employees. Life happens, and it is important to have contingency plans in place in case of natural disasters or service malfunctions.
The technology needs of The Reading Corner are those dealing with communications and collaboration, office productivity, marketing, finance, operations, HR, and customer service. Communications and collaboration technology will ensure that the organization is able to communicate with individuals, such as email or video conferencing. Office productivity technology will ensure that every day office tasks are able to be completed efficiently, such as word processing and presentations. Marketing technology will allow direct communication with customers and provide a means to reach out to new prospects, like social media and CRM programs. Finance technology, like accounting software, will aid in keeping track of all the financial information needed to ensure a smooth operation of the organization. Operations technology will allow the management of day-to-day operations and information to be detailed and efficient. HR technology, such as payroll and scheduling, will allow accurate records to be maintained regarding employees and volunteers. Customer service technology will allow customers to contact the organization and receive help, by way of telephone systems and chat functions. In addition, technology policies will be established to help protect the organization and their employees, volunteers, and clients. The policies that will be established are security policies, privacy policies, email policies, and web-surfing policies.
These various technologies will aid in maintaining a competitive advantage over the competition as it will allow real-time information which can be used to improve current programs or processes, or to create completely new ones. All of which will be dependent on the information that is gathered using the correct technology platforms. While the technology strategies are beneficial, it is important to choose the correct hardware, software, and applications that will truly benefit the organization. There are various aspects to consider when choosing which technology to use, but all technology products should be judged based on “ease of use, ease of management, integration, scalability, mobility, vendor support, and cost” (Abrams, 2017, p.382).
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