2 Help the client to analyse the business and decide the way forward


This is about enabling your clients to develop a clear picture of their business, where it is and where it’s heading. To do that they need to analyse the current performance of their business and identify their business needs. This probably involves introducing them to new and more powerful tools and approaches.

What you need to show

You must make sure that your practice meets the following requirements.

  1. Help your clients express what they think and feel about their business performance, direction and shared values of the business and its stakeholders
  2. Work with clients to evaluate and explain their current business situation using established measures and diagnostic tools.
  3. Help clients obtain the information they need to review their business, including the ideas of other stakeholders.
  4. Help the client identify which parts of their business activities would benefit from change.
  5. Inspire the client to seek new opportunities for the business.
  6. Challenge clients to set practical, specific and ambitious personal and business objectives for the short-, medium- and longer-term.
  7. Help the client identify obstacles to improved business performance.
  8. Help clients evaluate possible changes against business and personal objectives, risks and benefits and understand what may be involved personally and in business terms in achieving the results they would like
  9. Challenge clients to prioritise changes and identify problems to be dealt with first.
  10. Identify a suitable form of business plan that the client can use to record and manage the identified changes and help them prepare it
  11. Help the client consult with other stakeholders and obtain buy-in to the plan
  12. Work with clients in a way that allows them to develop these analytical skills for themselves.

What you need to know and understand

You need to know, understand and be able to apply each of the following.

Communication and interpersonal skills

  1. How to use effective interpersonal and communication skills.
  2. The benefits and drawbacks of different kinds of communication (for example, face-to-face contact, phone, fax and e-mail).

Business analysis

  1. Business performance data analysis and performance measures (for example, benchmarking).
  2. Qualitative and quantitative analytical and diagnostic techniques (for example, SWOT, PEST, five forces or variance analysis).
  3. Market appraisal, pricing and evaluating the different types of products offered (product mix).
  4. Evaluation of production processes and techniques.
  5. Financial appraisal techniques.
  6. Risk assessment techniques.
  7. Analysis of business culture
  8. Identification of stakeholders and their influence
  9. Profiling of individuals’ strengths, weaknesses and motivation
  10. Common problems and opportunities small businesses (including structured business formats such as franchising, direct selling, licensing and distribution agreements) may face.

Business planning

  1. How to build support among stakeholders for policies, strategies and plans.
  2. How to improve competitiveness and the benefits and drawbacks of different kinds of competition
  3. How to define business objectives, actions, organisational structures, roles and responsibilities.
  4. Cash flow forecasts and survival planning.
  5. Profit and loss accounts, balance sheets and cash flow statements.
  6. Development, presentation and use of business plans.
  7. Identifying trends and developments that may affect the client’s business (for example, consumer demand, new technology or government legislation).
  8. Barriers or obstacles to improving performance (for example, personal, interpersonal issues, funding or skills).
  9. Sources of new opportunities (for example, networking, collaboration with other businesses or carrying out first hand research with their customers).
  10. The benefits and drawbacks of different business models including franchising, direct selling, licensing and distribution agreements (either when replicating their business or purchasing a structured business format).

Business governance

  1. Business, financial and legal rules and methods.
  2. The range of legal and governance structures available to small businesses

Providing business support

  1. The dynamics of business support relationships.
  2. The limits of your own skills and knowledge.
  3. The guidelines for providing support services set by your organisation or professional body about:
    • maintaining confidentiality in different working environments;
    • ethics, values and professional standards;
    • equal opportunities, diversity and social inclusion;
    • funding and other support available to the client;
    • using information management systems;
    • using invoicing systems, pricing and credit-control policies; and
    • procedures for quality assurance and handling complaints.
  4. The features and benefits of the business support services you provide, and those of any other services that you direct clients to.
  5. The role of your organisation in developing competition among local businesses.

Personal behaviours

You need to show the following behaviours.

  1. Appreciate how an organisation operates in different client sectors. IiP1.1
  2. Respect your client’s need for information, commitment and confidentiality. IiP1.3
  3. Think strategically, take a holistic view of the way forward. IiP3.1
  4. Seek the right information to analyse a situation and draw sound conclusions. IiP3.2
  5. Generate justifiable alternatives to solve a problem or reach an outcome. IiP3.3
  6. Apply knowledge/experience effectively, yet remain open to exploring new ideas. IiP3.4
  7. Have a rigorous but impartial questioning style. IiP4.4
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