Ten questions to ask, to gain clarity in your business

Glasses, Reading Glasses, SpectaclesWhatever 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:

  1. What is your service offering and how does it benefit end users?
  2. 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?
  3. 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)
  4. What are the considerations within the wider social landscape? Are there regulatory or legislative aspects?  How do these impact the service offering or organisation?
  5. 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?
  6. Do you have a ‘soft’ heart for the work, or are you motivated by other factors?
  7. 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?
  8. How does your business contribute to a broader social narrative and is what you are doing (or planning to do) congruent with that?
  9. 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!)
  10. 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.

Funding bid MAGIC – ALWAYS a collaborative endeavour

Document, Paper, Business, Chart, GraphI am often approached to help people with their funding bids. Usually, this is a charity or a voluntary group that does not have the money to pay for the help that they so desperately need.  Sometimes, it is an organisation that does not have the time to undertake the task they so desperately need to be invested in.  More often than not, the premise for approaching me is a combination of both.

Whether undertaken pro-bono or paid, there is one common misconception that I encounter.  Desperate commissioners will want to pass the baton to me, to ‘take care of things’, without considering that writing funding bids cannot be done in a silo.

Sometimes, people will say, “how much will it cost for you to do it all for us?” and what they mean is ALL.  As in, everything as a fully sub-contracted role.  I am happy to oblige but it is important to establish common ground about what ‘everything’ entails.

Now, there is a lot that I CAN do and most definitely, I can ease the pressure for organisations.  I can definitely bring expertise, strategic insight, advice, guidance, a range of systems to approach the task.  I can also bring calm to what can sometimes be a highly stressful process.  It goes without saying, that I bring my skills as a professional writer (it always amuses me that we refer to bid writing, when the writing is actually a smaller part of the process, than the organisation skills it requires – any writers out there thinking of bid writing – be prepared!).

Unless I know the organisational strategy, the ethos, the values, have a sense of the history, preferably some case studies, feedback from previous projects, typical budgetary projections, access to policies, account information, impact statistics…the list goes on…I am left without the ingredients I need to bake the ‘winning cake’.

There is no real ‘magic’ in bid writing, whether for statutory tenders, or independent or governmental funding streams, so no amount of ‘special ingredient’ from me, can replace the bridge that working in collaboration provides.

Even if you commission me to “do everything”, that ‘everything’ is dependent upon you. As a policy writer, researcher and stakeholder consultant, I can help you to develop aspects that are missing but to make it work and to compile the bid to time frames, you must be fully on board, especially with the first bid.

Are you really ready?  If so, give me a call.