Start where you are (with what you’ve got).

Plans are important frameworks for overall direction and strategy – but, as the saying goes, no plan survives first contact with the customer…

So we are really talking about culture here: that people within an organisation feel the ability to spot, develop and pursue opportunities (in line with the mission), to take and be comfortable with risk (and reward), to be creative and problem-solve, to be flexible and responsive in their approach. – Nick Temple, Social Enterprise UK

Some of us are prone to making big plans and then not knowing where to begin while others plod along without knowing exactly why or where they’re headed. Neither approach serves us very well. But “starting where you are” is actually very challenging.

Part of the reason it’s so challenging, I think, is that there often isn’t much to work with at the beginning when a social enterprise is not much more than a powerful feeling that something needs doing that either isn’t being done or isn’t being done well enough.

But somtimes, we have more to work with than we realize. For example, I had a very nice experience this past week when a colleague visited my new enterprise work site. As I explained my hopes for the project, I found myself focusing on the complications, obstacles in the way of getting to the bigger vision. After I finally exhauted myself, he just smiled and said, Look around you, you are not just occupying this space but “activating” it already. You’re doing just fine. Keep going.

I had to admit then that a lot has been happening. There’s movement every day. It may be tiny increments and not always be tangible but things like conversations that spark insight into your purpose or a new take on how you’re doing things, or meeting new people who may turn into essential supporters, allies or partners down the road are a vital part of any business’s development.

Resources are generally thin at the beginning of any project. To build them up, you need more than good ideas and good will. You need to look at what you’ve got like fuel. Good experience¬† directly relevant to your project establishes your qualifications. Do something with it. Anything, no matter how small. This will demonstrate not only what you want to do but also that you’re committed.

My friend showed me that it’s important to get your feet wet. If people see that you’ve waded in and haven’t found it either too cold or too hot, it doesn’t matter so much what you say or if you say it well or poorly. You don’t have to convince anybody. Your actions speak for themselves. And they’re likely to respond with what you need whether that’s for them to jump in with you, throw you a line or lend you a boat.

 

 

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