I put everything down on paper that was in my head, gave them indicative timeframes and sequences and then almost unintentionally didn't really look back at it. I did it, wrote it all down, and set it aside. It was an exercise of catharsis more than anything else.
A couple of months later, I pulled this GANTT back out, surprisingly I realised that all but one thing had been done - and that one thing will be, it just hasn't yet proved important. I think that’s because I knew why I was going into business and what I wanted to achieve by this point. For me it wasn’t about going back and checking that plan or following the steps to the letter, because they will always change. It was about staying true to the ideals of the business and what we were trying to achieve. If you know where you want to go and why, how you get there is pretty irrelevant, but you will get there.
With this is mind, we developed a tool for businesses to help guide that thought process and presented it to Business Gateway’s Women into Business
Here we explain each step in the tool in a little more detail:
1. WHAT is it you’re trying to achieve?
Too often we are tempted to jump straight to the solution, but this isn’t your aim. Your aim is something along the lines of ‘I want to increase my brand presence in the Scottish Market by X’ or ‘I want to make £100,000 profit this year. Your aim isn’t "I need a website". That's a solution to a problem – a tool to help you get to your aim. A website can facilitate you making money or your brand awareness but it is not what you’re trying to achieve.
By focusing on developing a website without thinking about ‘why’ you need one and what you want to achieve, you’re going to miss a whole bunch of stuff you need to think about before you design that site. You have to take it back to your core objectives.
2. WHY do you want to do this?
Don’t underestimate the power of stopping for a moment and asking yourself why? It’s something you probably asked yourself and everyone around you dozens of times a day as a child, and it’s a lesson we often forget as adults. But why?!
Your why is the embodiment of your business, it’s your brand, your ethics, it’s the reason you are in business in the first place.
There’s a really interesting TED talk by Simon Sinek called ‘Start with Why? He takes it right back to the biology that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. So take the time to think about why you’re in business.
For This is Milk, our why is ‘we want to make businesses better’ and everything we do has to come back to that point. If we aren’t doing that, we’ve gone off-track. And that’s not about failing to follow the steps of a plan, it’s about us coming away from our ‘why’.
So now you’ve got ‘what you need to achieve’ and ‘why you’re doing it’ – these are the checkpoints to come back to for every decision you make. OK, if I go down that route - does it keep me on track for your aims and does it still support ‘why’ I’m here? But there’s one more key point to think about – who?
3. WHO is this change designed for?
Think about who your audience is, who will benefit from this decision or change I’m about to make? This will help you design all the elements that are then going to help you on your way to achieving what it is you’ve set out to achieve in the first place (in step one). It will also help you create the messaging around the change you want to make and select the right communication channels to reach your audience.
Let’s say you're designing something for your employees, you have to think about who they are and what they need to know. Communicating the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ to your audience will also help them to understand and appreciate the change you’re trying to make.
Once you’ve answered these three key questions, you can then start to think about how to get to where you want to go. So if I take the example again of ‘increasing brand presence’ there’s lot of ways to do that, we can create a website, advertise on TV, paid search, networking, speak at events…the list is endless.
But this is when you look at all these options and start to assess each one: what will it cost? Is it in the right place? Is the timing right? What are the routes to entry? What are my barriers? All of these kinds of things. You have options, but what you are assessing them against is always what you’re trying to achieve, why you’re trying to achieve it and who it’s for.
Then once you’ve put these things in place, you need to measure and test. How you do that is by going back to your what, why and who again. Do my audience like it? Does it embody why I’m here and am I achieving my goal? Chances are, if you answered the ‘what’ ‘why’ and ‘who’ to begin with, the answers will be yes!
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