Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sustainable business course update

We had the first stakeholder meeting since funding approval to develop a sustainable business course, with business support agents from the Otago Chamber of Commerce, Dunedin City Council's Audacious business awards, Inland Revenue, Trade and Enterprise and Polytechnic. We updated on the project that has achieved funding. Reviewing the 3 stages of development:
  1. Write a business planning workbook with emphasis on sustainability considerations
  2. Coordinate events, seminars, and workshops that align to the topics in the workbook.
  3. Set up an accredited course for people wanting to start a sustainable business with local business support agencies helping to assess business plan based outcomes.
The workbook
The first discussion point was around the NZTE text from which the new text will be based. The question was if it was sufficient to be useful in developing a business plan as the final outcome for course participants. It was agreed that it was not sufficient, and that we would need to incorporate the companion text from NZTE as well - Planning for Success. The first text, Starting a Business is essentially a SWOT analysis and feasibility study, and the Planning for Success is more about the formation of a business plan. The basic structure for the combined and new text therefore would be:
  1. Business Idea
  2. Sustainability overview (looking for a new word with more meaning than sustainability, or simply drop the extra word all together)
  3. SWOT and feasibility
  4. Create a business plan
  5. Pitch the business idea
After the sustainability overview, the ethic, principles and methods of sustainability will weave in throughout the other topics.

The text will be developed on Wikibooks, with Chris Young - a local consultant playing a lead editor role. He is now breaking down the 2 NZTE texts to their chapters and topics, with a view to arranging them under the above 5 areas, and adding new topics where needed.

I am currently finding a space in Wikibooks to begin work there.

The seminars and workshops
Once we have a clear idea of the workbook structure and all the sub topics, we will set to work finding existing media and resources, including local seminars, workshops and events that align to the topics. Ultimately we are hoping to have both face to face events and their equivalent online media or recordings for alternative access. We have the potential to offer the course within prisons for example, so the ability to download offline media to use would be useful - as it would be for community learning centres and individuals studying at a distance.

There was some discussion about all the existing seminars and media:

  1. Rae Farrell from Otago Chamber of Commerce recommended Paul Allen as a key person for start up businesses in Dunedin and as a valuable contact in the collecting of resources and negotiating live events.
  2. Rae and others agreed that typical weakness areas for local start up businesses are marketing and financials.
  3. The Inland Revenue team considered the idea of recording media and making it available to the public. There were some ideas about hosting such media on the IRD website so as to maintain currency. This led to discussion about existing media on other sites such as NZTE. It may be necessary to try and get copyrights on this media so that people can confidently download and reuse for a wider range of purposes...
  4. IRD mentioned their Tools for Business but I'm having some difficulty locating it.
  5. Rae from the Chamber mentioned the Department of Labour's OSH bins (difficult to locate as welldifficulty in locating these resources or Karl Senky, so I'll need to double check this info with Rae.
  6. There was some discussion about how we might go about collecting up local case studies. It was agreed to be more valuable to go nation wide in search of case studies, looking into media outlets for stories.
  7. I mentioned my over all disappointment with the lack of good clear guidelines for small businesses to plan and operate. Internationally I have found the Reporting Guidelines and and interesting project known as financial permaculture - specifically the idea of using a structure of ethic, principles, methods and outcomes to plan and operate for sustainability.
  8. Bridget from the Polytechnic tabled printed examples from the Ministry of Tourism's strategy document and the Ministry for Environment's case study sheets such as Dive Tutukaka.
  9. Some discussion about the virtues of the Qualmark standard and its relevance to participants on
  10. I raised the question of how we might pool resources that we find so as to be beneficial to all the stakeholders. DCC Sustainability forums was one suggestion. Other than that it might have to remain as word-of-mouth and email :( - might be my abilities in hearing kiwi accents :) as well as Dept of Labour's Employment Contracts guidelines with a key contact being Karl Senky.
The meeting was quite encouraging, with good levels of interest in where we are going, and very valuable recommendations from the group. At this stage Chris, myself and the graphic designer will focus our efforts on structuring the topics for the text and doing a comprehensive resource collection effort throughout the rest of July, starting to write throughout August, with a first draft ready by the end of August. We should reconvene another meeting at the end of August or early September to review the draft and try coordinating our efforts on seminars and workshops that relate to the topics, and plan new ones, and negotiate recording and media distribution rights.

Thanks all for coming.

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Leigh Blackall said...

This is the link to take you to the tool for business

dol website
http://www.dol.govt.nz/ employment relations for employment contracts

Leigh Blackall said...