Three start-up questions

October 30, 2013


Starting a new project or business can be overwhelming. What helps is keeping your head clear of cluttering thoughts and concentrating on what you want to achieve and how best to get there.

By asking yourself the following three questions, you have a better chance of staying focused. You’ll have also more time for fun at work and in your personal life. After all, we all want (and yes even need) a balance between work and fun.

1. What is your passion?

Using your passion for work makes work more fun! There is so much you know about your passion – your creative hobby with constant new projects, a fierce belief that keeps you awake at night or playing your drums even when the neighbours complain about the noise.

Also, because you’re interested in your passion, you’re always curious to learn more about it. You’re intrigued, and want to share your passion with everyone else.

Now what does this have to do with starting a new project or business? A lot! Projects, programs and businesses fail when they are not compelling to clients and customers. They can also not stand out enough from the competition to get noticed.

By putting myself in my clients’ shoes and asking myself: “when would I work with a consultant on getting my business off the ground?”, I realized quickly what I would value most in a consultant. In my case, it involved putting business-planning tools to work in a creative and non-standard manner.

Incorporating your passion and beliefs into your start-up helps it stand out and get noticed. This could be because your project (as a result of your passion) stands out. This, combined with good branding helps clients meet like-minded people and make useful connections.

If you chose to make your business based on clear values, the customers you attract will be more comfortable working with service providers and vendors that share the same values.

Another way of putting this is that you’re creating a compelling product or program.

2. What is your Theory of Change?

A tool that has gained popularity in recent years in the community sector is the Theory of Change. You wish to create a change for your client and Theory of Change is the roadmap to succeed in this.

This theory helps you define who your ideal client is, understand the environment they inhabit and how it relates to your business environment. In other words, you are looking at the political, economical, social and technological aspects that influence your clients lifestyle and decision-making as well as your own.

With this information, you can look at what you want to achieve with your project or business in the short and long-term and what factors might influence results.

I am speaking about the Theory of Change to everyone, whether people define themselves as a non-profit profession, (social) entrepreneur, small business owner, or community developer. It’s not about the name of the tool (to name a few: business planning, goal setting, strategic planning); it’s about what the tool can do for you!

I fervently believe that Theory of Change helps people understand the nature of their business and their clients much better. This understanding translates into knowing how and when to reach out to your ideal client.

3. What is my value proposition?

So… after reading this far you’ve created a unique project, service or company and have (if you’re anything like me) just gone through the Theory of Change process in your head. If you are like me and are reading about how to improve your business, there are probably a thousand creative thoughts tumbling around in your head.

Perhaps an early version of your value proposition is now popping into your head. Realizing what differentiates you from your competitors and what the ultimate results for your clients will be are key ingredients for successful elevator pitches. When asking yourself why a customer should come to your business, the answer is clear.

Answering these three questions will help you in getting clarity and gaining strategic focus for your project, service or business.


Lisette Andreyko

Lisette is the founder of Kaleidoscope and is passionate about start-up leadership, personal growth and women in business (and psst.. about tea!). She enjoys connecting with small businesses through her network. You can find her on LinkedIn.