Whatever stage we are at in our social business endeavours, ill-thought out action or inaction, can lead us down metaphoric roads that we may not intend to travel. Ideally, we would ask a plethora of questions (because after all, questions often are actually the answers) and get really clear at inception, with regular reflective pit-stops along the way. This reflective process, often best undertaking with a skilled professional, such as a mentor, is useful in relation to the business as a whole, or for individual projects/new service developments.
Whether these questions are couched within ‘discovery’ sessions, strategy sessions, leadership coaching or professional supervision, they need to be asked. Before I continue, I am not suggesting that there is no difference between these session types because of course, they each have their own specific function. However, what they do all have in common, is that they require us, as business owners, leaders and managers, to take a step back and explore some fundamental considerations, summarised in a sample of questions, listed here:
- What is your service offering and how does it benefit end users?
- How will your service or product be financed – will it be purchased by or will you source funding and it be offered without cost to commissioner/end user?
- What is the legal structure of your business and how does this impact your funding options? Do you have the skills base and capacity to apply for funding? (if not, outsource it)
- What are the considerations within the wider social landscape? Are there regulatory or legislative aspects? How do these impact the service offering or organisation?
- What are the strengths and areas of development for your business and how will you bridge the gap between what exists and what needs to be developed?
- Do you have a ‘soft’ heart for the work, or are you motivated by other factors?
- Do you have a ‘soft’ heart for the work, or are you doing what you have always done and/or feel you ‘should’ be doing, or are expected to do as a career?
- How does your business contribute to a broader social narrative and is what you are doing (or planning to do) congruent with that?
- How would you describe your business in 60 seconds? (Yes, I know, the elevator pitch but it is a good way of tying us down to the bones of the matter!)
- How does your business contribute to your own trajectory – for instance, if it is a time-intensive business that is not able to be automated in any way, how does that fit with your life goals?
This list is in no way exhaustive, neither are the questions relevant to all business scenarios but they form a great basis to begin a grounded and focused process. Feel free to consultachameleon to get the ball rolling for your business.