M is for Mission-Based

blue target iconA couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about turning resolutions into achievable goals.

Following my own advice, I set a goal for myself to close 5 new clients in January. 2 weeks in, I had taken lots of steps in the article, started getting tons of leads and even got a couple of new clients.

But I discovered something very interesting. Although my leads were soaring and I started getting prospects really interested in working with me, many were not my ideal clients. Although I could technically offer what they were looking for, there were enough differences in each type of client that I would have to dedicate extra time, energy and resources to working with all of them. I would be all over the place.

They were not my ideal clients because they weren’t in line with my mission and how I can best serve humanity.  

So I was stuck having to make a decision: do I close these clients who I’m not super passionate about working with and potentially not deliver my best and be drained working with them?

No. You see, this is not a sustainable business model.

It is true that many times we must follow one path that doesn’t feel like it’s fulfilling our mission, but that provides us income to survive and certain skills we need to strengthen and prepare ourselves to continue fulfilling our mission.

I have a client who is an attorney entrepreneur who was doing mindless freelance work, when I helped her get clear about her mission and path about a year ago. We were both really excited, and she had and still has so much potential. A month after our Mission M.A.P. session, I did a follow-up with her in which she told me she replaced her freelance work by becoming an independent agent in a completely different industry. She still wanted to pursue her mission, but needed to gain some stable income first and couldn’t do the mindless legal work anymore.

Recently I spoke to her and she told me that looking back, she was just not confident in her abilities and her competency back then to go all-in with her mission. Over the last year she has built her network, learned how to be a salesperson and gained other valuable skills that are going to be important once she goes all in into her mission-driven business. Very importantly, she was clear that the job she’s in now is not her forever career.

A sustainable business is not one in which you close whatever clients are low hanging fruit just to get a check. That is survival. There is no strategy to that. Looking back over the last 7 years, I realized I went through periods of this. This is a recipe for burnout, not success.

You can have 1 or 2 clients or business avenues like this to build a financial foundation, parallel to building a sustainable business model with your ideal, mission-based clients.

Remember knowing who you want to work with (your target clients) and how you can best serve them (unique value proposition/client offering), is part of the Mission-Based Business & Branding process.

So to add to the previous article, make sure you create S.M.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Mission-Based, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.

Has this ever happened to you? Share in the comments below.

 

*For more guidance clarifying your mission,  creating your brand, setting business goals, and creating plans for action to achieve your goals, I’m offering new year coaching specials through the end of the month. If you or anyone you know needs that extra push, now is a great time to start! You can also set up a complimentary Discovery Call with me to learn about the Mission Based Branding and Business Method and see if it’s right for you.

Focus Impacts IMPACT

FocusOn my quest to be the best “Missionpreneur Mentor” I can be, I am constantly searching for what I refer to as the “hypotenuse solution” in all areas of business for myself and others. If you remember anything from high school geometry, the hypotenuse is the shortest distance in a right triangle–well I do that with business as in life.

As a Missionpreneur, my bright idea for a hypotenuse solution was to apply to a couple of startup accelerator programs for a startup I have been “starting up” for several years and now trying to revive. The thing is, I’m also running my own agency and involved in a few other ventures and charitable projects. You could say my attention is divided, and the startup is possibly the last on the priority list. Plus the startup itself is in the process of reinvention, so there is no clearly defined business model.  Not surprisingly, my startup didn’t get chosen for any of the programs I applied to.

At the same time, a close friend applied to a few accelerators and got chosen for one and is interviewing for another. These accelerators are extremely competitive, with over one thousand applicants for each. The fact his business got chosen as one of five teams out of over a thousand is a real accomplishment in and of itself. Not to mention the proverbial door-opening to resources, education, collaboration and of course, potential investor funding.

When I assess the difference between our two scenarios with respect to our startups, it comes down to FOCUS. Firstly, as the CEO of his startup, my friend focuses most of his time and attention on building that business, even though he is also a consultant who earns additional income outside of the startup. Secondly, that business itself has a very focused, clear and specific brand and mission; it’s not trying to do or be everything to everyone, although there is potential for future expansion. Thirdly, he made the accelerator application process a priority because he knew that this opportunity was the best way to accelerate and potentially skyrocket his business, revenue and investment potential quickly. He just knew he was going to get accepted to one of the programs, and although it was still a highly stressful process wrought with frustration and doubts, he never gave up until he made it. This inspires me as an entrepreneur.

It got me thinking about the founding of other startups that are now billion dollar businesses–Facebook, Airbnb, Apple, Lyft–and how their focused attention on one key product or service has helped them grow and scale and make a bigger impact on close to a billion people (or nearly two billion as of today in the case of Facebook). Or look at iconic brands with one key product such as Kleenex, Nike and Jacuzzi that still exist today and still lead the market and industry in brand recognition.

At the same time, there are some so-called impact aggregators with a huge mission to impact billions of people; their mission is inspiring and they are trying to find global solutions in many different areas. But instead they are so unfocused, scattered in their attention, chasing after several bright, shiny objects in multiple categories, that they are not quite making the big impact in any one area that they desire. In fact, I have a friend who is an industry expert and thought leader who works at one of these impact businesses and flat out told me in her professional opinion I would make a greater impact working at Facebook. Sure, none of the aforementioned businesses are perfect and their paths have certainly never been “easy”, but in terms of impact, FOCUS was a stronger strategy than trying to be everything to everyone.

How can you apply this to your career/business? Follow these three steps:

  1. What is your one big business goal or dream? Define that and make sure you are devoting most of your time and attention on this. If you can’t do that for any reason, then it shouldn’t be a surprise if you’re not progressing as well as you’d like in that venture.
  2. Does your career/business have a clear, focused mission, brand, business model and key service/product? If not, do an analysis of what is working and what isn’t working. Be as specific as possible, and focus your business and messaging on what works and transition out of what doesn’t.
  3. Prioritize opportunities to accelerate your impact.  Now that you’re focused on a venture that has a clear and specific brand and business model, you will more clearly see the opportunities that will skyrocket your business. Seek those opportunities and believe they are possible. You may even have clients and investors seeking you out! [As it turns out, one of the principals of the accelerator that accepted my friend actually found his startup on AngelList, a site focused on resources for startups!]

How has Focus or lack of focus helped or hurt your business? Is there a step I’m missing? Feel free to add your comments below. And remember, when in doubt:

Focus on Focus!

~Alexandra 😉

 

P.S. – Also if you need help focusing and clarifying your mission, brand and business, we can help! We offer full day or half day Mission M.A.P. sessions or Strategy Programs to get you to clear and stand out in your industry and attract your ideal clients.