My last post spoke to some validation testing that I had put IDWIL through at a local high school. That was a necessary process that needed to be done, and the confidence it built in me was amazing. That was back in Oct/Nov 2013, which is around the time that IDWIL and I drove over one of those double-arrow turbo burst panels that one sees on Mario Kart or similar racing video game.
2014 YouthBridge SEIC
I had an inkling that I would like to enter IDWIL into the 2014 YouthBridge Social Enterprise and Innovation Competition, which had a deadline for entry of a 3-page executive summary of January 6, 2014. So, that essentially gave me 2 months to get something solid together. One thing that was hindering me from really moving forward was figuring out if IDWIL should be a for-profit or non-profit (or other) organization. Having met and briefly discussing the subject with Kellee Sikes of P3 Strategies a few months earlier, I pulled up and old email. She had provided an article and worksheet that could get me pointed in the right direction. As I re-read the entire email, I realized that she had helped some previous winners in the competition! I then hired out her services knowing that IDWIL 'was what it was,' but her experience in this competition would help me be a contender merely from knowing the lay of the land.
Working with an unbiased strategist has helped me in numerous ways:
- It has forced me to work on the things that I usually put on the back-burner while I do the stuff I find to be more fun. This is huge because to be a small business owner/entrepreneur, you can't just be the technician anymore - you have to be the artist and CEO and CFO and COO and Marketing and Everything Else until you are able to hand those duties off to someone else (which takes awhile). When I was a graphic designer, I had a job. Now, I have a business. Though it seems like apples-to-apples, it is not - my business is not my job, it is a lot more.
- It takes my 'great' ideas and concepts out of my head. The benefit to this sometimes comes in the form of criticism (which is constructive), but it can also come in the form of validation (which is empowering). Beyond that, it allows an outside perspective to be included, which ultimately ends up in growth.
- It is therapeutic. Similar to #2, the social aspect of working with an outside consultant while working on an entrepreneurial endeavor invariably seeps outside of 'just work' thoughts. Kellee knew from the beginning that Mia and Lola are at the core of IDWIL from the beginning - just the same, the growth of the business cannot be fully realized without understanding how integrated it is with my whole life. Sharing that with someone is one thing, but really coming to terms with that fact myself was a lesson that I had to learn.
- New circles. Kellee's work with social enterprises means that networking for IDWIL had to go beyond 'meeting people for IDWIL interviews.' In this case, she saw the connections between IDWIL and Girls Dreaming Big, Clean Water Mission, and others. Sometimes working in the same arena, social enterprises tend to be more helpful toward each other than competitive - thus the term "co-opetition." The timing seemed right for Kellee as well, and she started a local Social Enterprise meet-up group - from which IDWIL has made some cool new connections!