Forest School Leaders, whether they are freelance or employed, will need to deal with administrative, financial, and other business related matters, pertaining to their Forest School practice – to some degree or other.

Budgets and Accounts

Whether simply buying some new equipment or running an entire business, Forest School leaders need to manage money appropriately. Budgets estimate how much money you will have coming in and out over a set period of time and, importantly, where it is expected to come from. Accounts are a record or statement of financial expenditure and receipts relating to a particular period or purpose. Again, where the money has gone or has come from is just as important as how much. There a number of standard ways of managing your budget and accounts.

Business set up

Many Forest School leaders decide to set up their own Forest School business. However, the skill set required to run a successful business is different to that necessary to be a good Forest School leader. Some people already have these skills but some have to develop them. There are many important questions to ask yourself before setting up your own business. Making sure that you have good answers to these questions, before you do anything else, will be crucial to your success. Try writing down your answers – it will be useful when it comes time to write your business plan.

Why am I starting a business?
Do I have the right skills to run my own business? If not, how can I gain those skills?
What kind of business do I want?
Who is my ideal customer?
What specific products or services will my business provide?
Am I prepared to spend the time and money needed to get my business started?
What differentiates my business idea and the products or services I will provide from others in the market?
Where will my business be located?
How many employees will I need?
What types of suppliers do I need?
How much money do I need to get started?
Will I need to get a loan?
How soon will it take before my products or services are available?
How long do I have until I start making a profit?
Who is my competition?
How will I price my product compared to my competition?
How will I set up the legal structure of my business?
What taxes do I need to pay?
What kind of insurance do I need?
How will I manage my business?
How will I advertise my business?

Site Tenure

Where will you practice and how secure is your tenure of this site? Landowner’s agreement in place?

Ofted – see guidance notes

Legal – see guidance notes

Project/funding applications

Unless they have the cash in hand Forest School leaders will need to apply for funding to deliver a planned project. This may be as simple as asking your employer to purchase equipment that is needed to as complex as putting together large multi partner grant applications to deliver Forest School programmes. In all cases a clear business case needs to be made. To put it another way, you need to be able to clearly communicate what you need, why you need it, what the benefits would be and who will benefit. A key point is to remember to clearly communicate how the project will benefit the person or organisation giving you the money. You must demonstrate that the project is well planned and accurately costed.
For small projects your employer may just need an email that explains things. Including all the elements above will increase your chances of getting the money you need.
Larger funding applications will require an understanding of subjects like project management, the project cycle, project monitoring, project evaluation, budgeting, stakeholder analysis, needs assessment, etc. Evidence will be needed to support everything you say.

Check the website forums for funding opportunities.

How will I price my product compared to my competition?

Straw poll of commercial rates conducted in 2014

Thank you very much to everyone who has been willing to share their commercial rates with me. I said that I would share the findings with you. Please note that these findings are based on a very small and self selecting sample. There was a quick turnaround time on gathering the results. It is ‘back of the envelope’ stuff and should not be thought of as a rigorous ‘survey’. The findings are not a formal ‘output’ from the FSA.

According to the sample of 23 respondents, based on a FS group size of max 15, without any additional needs, the fees for a half day (I based on 3 hours) and full day (I based on 6 hours) are;

Half day £ Full day £
AVERAGE 117 193
MEDIAN 120 200
MAX 180 300
MIN 50 135

1. The median figures are a good reflection of where most people in the sample are pitching their pricing.
2. The lowest figures reflect people working with a great deal of good will and an element of ‘pro bono’.
3. The highest figures reflect additional services associated with things like the group having additional needs (I know I asked for this not to be included) and the sessions that are part of afterhours clubs.
4. The full day rates are clustered much more tightly than the half day rates
a. £150-£200 – the vast majority of respondents in this range FOR FULL DAY.
b. £90-£120 – majority of half day rates fell in this range but they were much looser, with many outliers, possibly a reflection of the looser definition of what constituted a half day (seemed to range from 1.5 hours – 3 hours).


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