Innovation. Growth. Sustainability. Impact.
This is often the subject of my conversations with small business owners and nonprofit directors alike. After 15 years advising individuals and small businesses on strategy, and the last 3 years focusing on working with nonprofits and entrepreneurs, I’ve noticed some consistent themes. The first is the clear commitment and passion of the small business owners and nonprofit professionals for the work they are doing and the desire to make an impact through their work. The second is the frustration they feel when the tremendous time and energy they are investing in their work does not appear to yield the results they hope for.
So, as an entrepreneur or nonprofit professional, what can you do to move forward on the path of growth and sustainability? It may actually require a smaller and thoughtful shift in practices rather than more dramatic (and expensive) transformation. A focused approach on your own or with assistance will show you that small changes can yield big results. Start with these three easy suggestions that lead to growth and sustainability for your business or nonprofit.
1. Take a step back. You have likely been moving forward at 110 miles per hour and have devoted all your resources to the success of your business. But if you are not reaching your goals as expected or feel like you are investing unending energy and time into your business or organization, slowing down will actually give you the opportunity to evaluate your process and strategy. There are likely opportunities to increase efficiency or re-prioritize activities to align with intended outcomes. Don’t know where to start? Devote time with your team to evaluate your business or organization. Still feeling overwhelmed? Work with an experienced business or nonprofit professional to start the process and create a strategy tailored to your organization.
2. Who is your audience or target market? Put another way, look at your product or services through the lens of the people you are trying to reach. What are their needs? What problems are they trying to solve? What gaps can your service or product fill? Have you conducted market research and talked with prospective clients? Dedicating time to answer these questions will create a more targeted and effective model for businesses and nonprofits.
3. Identify partners or collaborators. Solo entrepreneurs and nonprofits operating on a shoestring means you are likely wearing many hats at any given time. One answer to increase your internal capacity by adding to your team. Another option is to find ways to partner with other businesses or organizations that benefit both exponentially. Nearly always, there are strategic partners providing the perfect opportunity for collaborations. It’s easy to look at others operating in the same space you are in and focusing on the very narrow ways you can work together. But a better approach is looking at businesses or organizations with natural adjacencies – those addressing a different but related need or working with similar target markets. Creating a strategy that complements each other provides additional value that would be too costly or challenging on your own. Often, these opportunities are obvious simply by shifting your approach or perspective.
These are all actions that can be easily undertaken and lead to growth and sustainability. Even more, going through the process of assessing your activities and marketing strategy will result in your ability to better articulate the unique value you provide and the impact you are working to create. Questions or need help? Feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].