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Business Planning - Research

This section of your business plan is one of the most important - it's where you need to demonstrate the need or demand for your new services. This might include statistical information such as the growth in population and live births, the increasing number of employers and rising employment in the area, or the level of lone parenthood or types of deprivation.

But what you include will depend on the services you want to offer. For instance, there's no point saying you want to develop services for full-fee or profit-making places if you're in the middle of nowhere and families can't get to you. And if you give statistical information, you should also give references, i.e. you should state where you got your information from. You could also attach detailed information as an appendix. We will cover appendices in a later stage of 'writing a business plan'.

Examples

Here's an example of statistical research:

'There is a rising birth rate in our catchment area - rising from 423 live births in 2004 to 670 in 2005 (ref. 1). There is also a predicted steady rise in employment, with 6 per cent unemployed in 2004, set to decrease to 4.7 per cent in 2005 (ref 2). This demonstrates a growing need for daycare for parents and/or families either returning to work or taking up work locally.'

Reference source: (1) Health information on live births, PCT, 2005; (2) Employment Service and DSS reports, 2005.
Always put reference sources at the foot of the page, so they don't interrupt the flow of your writing and, possibly, the reader's understanding of your evidence.

Other examples of need/demand are evidence of parents requesting wraparound services, and figures showing how full other local facilities are. In presenting information on need, you must be specific about the area you intend to target. There's no point telling the reader how little daycare there is in Hedge End, for example, if you plan to develop services in Millbrook. This might seem obvious, but it's remarkable how many projects make simple mistakes in this part of their business plan.

Southampton Childcare Audit and Gaps analysis

In common with many local authorities, it has always been the practice in Southampton to gather information to inform the planning and development of childcare in the city. The Childcare Act 2006 formalises this process, and requires local authorities to undertake a thorough ‘Sufficiency Assessment’ every three years, and to update this information regularly in the interim periods. The information in this audit was collected between April and August 2013. It was collected from a variety of sources:

  • Ofsted
  • Inland Revenue
  • Childcare providers
  • Consultation
  • Users of the Children and Young People's Information Service
  • Index of Multiple Deprivation
  • Southampton Universities Hospital Trust
  • Southampton City Primary Care Trust
  • Education Support and Planning Services
  • Community Safety
  • Property Development
  • Children and Families
  • Day Care Trust

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