Growth & Limitations
A time to grow, and a time to prune.
Over the past two years that Wisk Creative has been serving small businesses and non-profit orgs with marketing strategy and design services, I’ve learned a few things; two that have been on my mind this quarter are growth & limitations (also read: growth, in spite of limitations).
It is hard to recognize, and sometimes even harder to address: are you as a business or non-profit, growing, struggling, decaying? Are your growing pains healthy or exhaustive? Is it time to cut back, reach out, expand or scale? Where are you at in your 5 and 10 year strategic plans (and, if you don’t have 5, 10 year plans – are you ready to put them on paper?)
Yes, these are hard questions to ask, and sometimes even more challenging to answer. But this gut-check can truly help you and your team guide (or guide you back to) your mission. Sometimes, the urge to rebrand or scrap the whole thing and start over is tempting, and the social media age of self-comparison is not limited to personal life: it can sometimes be overwhelming to think about how we “stack up” to similar missions.
At Wisk Creative, I’ve had the gut-check conversation and have seen a need to reenergize the biz’ with a creed. I’m also here with some observations and a few steps to challenging my clients & followers to do the same for their own businesses and organizations. I have seen organizations and businesses have this conversation fruitfully, and have seen them rise to the challenges of their mission more effectively by revisiting this conversation often.
5 Gut-check questions to stay on track
For each of these questions, think: Projects, People, Time, Investment.
What is working? Be specific, use every analytic available to you and assess your systems from the top-down. Start with where you’re putting your time and energy. Are your projects beginning, progressing, ending and wrapping up succinctly? Are your people feeling energized? Is your time being used to accomplish your mission? Can you see how each minute you spend in this business is tied back to the big picture? Is every dollar you invest in your organization working hard for you?
What is failing? Be just as specific in this as you are in your successes. Don’t get overwhelmed. This is just an observation of reality, don’t let any negative emotions hold you back from objectively assessing your operations (even though that is challenging!) Are your projects falling through at some point in the process? Are they completed on time? Is your team lagging, confused or missing the mark on some of their tasks? Are you sinking time into aspects of the company that don’t contribute to the mission? Are you overspending or spending on facets of the organization that are not bringing in value?
What is your greatest need? This assessment is two-fold. First of all, what is the greatest need your company is serving. Are you meeting that need or falling short? Next, what do you think your greatest need as a company is? Bounce this question off your team, a trusted client or friend who sees the operation from the outside, a mentor. Revisit your mission statement; what in this statement identifies the needs you serve and the needs you have. Are you missing the mark or hitting the bullseye on these?
- Example: Wisk Creative sees that small businesses and non-profit organizations need a marketer, but often lack the capital to hire someone in-house or larger firms whose prices are unattainable. Wisk Creative meets that need by offering professional high quality marketing & design services at a lower rate to small business owners and non-profit groups.
What is the biggest hurdle you face? If it were easy, we could all do it. What hurdles are you facing in delivering on that greatest need? Do you have the start-up funds to support your new business? Do you have the staff and support needed to maintain your projects? Is your team communicating their needs and accomplishments accurately and easily? Whatever the hurdle is: don’t shy away from it, write it down.
- Example: While our projects are always completed on time, and at a high standard, I sometimes feel that they could be more creative in nature and push the limits for uniqueness. Sometimes my communication is short, quick and falls flat – using primarily email with clients becomes dull and easy to overlook or ignore. My time is valuable, and I often don’t have enough of it; I’m using it efficiently but could be so much more creative if I had more time.
Establish a vision to close the gap between your greatest need and your biggest hurdles. Easy to write, harder to DO. Set aside 1 hour today for a good old fashioned brain storm. It should look like this:
- 25 minutes: Write your needs on the left and 2+ ideas to solve that on the right. Even if they are crazy! Just write them down.
- 5 minutes: Take a walking break, grab a cup of coffee or a snack and digest what you’ve just come up with for a few minutes.
- 25 minutes: Circle your favorite solution for each problem and write out a 3 point action plan for each one. If you have minutes leftover, make a timeline (draw a physical horizontal line on your paper with points) and create a road map for your success.
- 5 minutes: Congratulate yourself! Now, set up a team meeting using this road map as a guide for a larger discussion on the direction of your organization or business. If you’re a one-woman or -man show, this sheet is your road map. Do what you need formalize it, internalize it, and execute it. Need help? That is literally what we’re here for.
Refueling and reenergizing with our own “Creative Creed”
I’ll be frank, and to-the-point: life is crazy right now. To say I have a lot going on is, actually, an understatement. I’ve seen my work at Wisk Creative become a check box on my list, and as a Creative Director, that hurts. The above gut-check has been so good for me, and is a catalyst for two reenergizing focuses here; 1) refreshing my bookkeeping style and 2) launching my social media channels with a creative creed.
This creed goes beyond my mission statement of serving small-businesses and non-profits. This is our philosophy of service, our vision to help these businesses & organizations change the world. Here it is:
We believe beautiful design, ethical marketing techniques and creative strategy can help small businesses and non-profits share their stories and create a better world. We’re just here to help.
There it is. I’ll be spending this quarter embracing beauty, ethics, and creativity in our services. Yes, we always did that before, but no, it wasn’t at the core of my process for each project, person, minute and dollar that are involved in the business. This quarter, it will be – and I think it’s going to do wonderful things for our mission.