It’s been just eight months since the idea for The Slow School of Business (Slow School) first took a hold of me.
In this blog I share the truth about building a start-up school. I want to give you the real information (and the inspiration) to help you find the commitment, resilience and patience required to build your own purpose-driven business.
Honestly, it’s been both the most challenging and rewarding journey of my 13 years in business! I’ve had to draw on emotional and spiritual reserves I just didn’t know I possessed.
Since June, nearly 500 people have attended 25 events, classes and dinners. While this was a terrific achievement we also cancelled many classes due to lack of registrations. Each time I cancelled a class my heart sunk a little more and my faith was tested.
So in October, we decided to launch a short course entitled ‘Is there a TED talk in you? in order to truly demonstrate the why behind Slow School. At our inaugural course, 18 people unearthed then shared their purpose talk to an audience of 120 people. The response was overwhelming and humbling and my faith was truly restored! Check out the talks on Slow School TV and details on the February 2015 program.
It’s been a massive year and we’ve all learnt so much. I hope you find these ten lessons of use to you in building your own purpose-driven business in 2015.
Lesson 1 – Get your Purpose nailed
Sadly 9 out of 10 start-ups fail in the first 12 months. I believe the reason for this, is lack of purpose. I’ve known the purpose for Slow School since day one. This is the most comforting and enduring factor required to attract the best people and the most wonderful opportunities. Go fearlessly in search of your purpose!
Lesson 2 – Focus on the People first
We’re building the school on Purpose and People before Products, Promotions and Profit (the old drivers of business). If you want to build a viable and sustainable business, know why and who it’s for first, before the what and the how.
Lesson 3 – Look after your financial wellbeing
In order to build the school I’ve given up other income opportunities which has left me a bit worried about my personal finances. Plans are in place to fix this now. I’ve learnt the hard way that financial security is essential to building a sustainable business. On the upside, the school itself has made a profit!
Lesson 4 – Adopt a ‘minimum viable product’ approach
We’ve spent very little on building the school by utilising existing assets and free technology platforms and with the help of generous volunteers. We’ve attracted and engaged the tribe to help co-design the school. Don’t spend a cent before you know what you’re truly offering and why!
Lesson 5 – Go…um… slow
Patience has never been my greatest virtue, which is why my Higher Power willed me to name the school – Slow School. Perhaps my greatest lesson has been to go slow, not at a snail’s pace but at a mindful and thoughtful pace so as to ensure I make solid decisions along the way. Go fast and fail or go slow and succeed!
Good things take time. Great things take a long time. And the best things take the longest time. Author unknown
Lesson 6 – Action precedes clarity every time
Through taking action we’ve gained clarity over the business model, the curriculum, the resources required and the financials. We came to understand what works and what doesn’t and how to roll with the ups and downs. Get out of your head and start doing. Remember perfection is the enemy of execution!
Lesson 7 – Embrace your role as a conscious leader
As a leader I’ve learnt to embrace vulnerability, transparency, honesty, humour, resilience, persistence, love, compassion, courage and humility. Human connection is what people want – to be invited in, seen, heard and included. This has been my greatest joy. You can do it too!
Lesson 8 – Ask for help
Without the wise counsel of my mentors and the support of so many volunteers, Slow School would not be in existence. Thank you to you all – you know who you are! While much of this help has been mostly offered to me, many times I’ve had to ask for it. You don’t ask, you don’t get!
Lesson 9 – Treat failure as a gift
The failure to fill classes inspired us to create the ‘Is there a TED talk in you?’ course which led to the establishment of the Facilitators Faculty and the adoption of short courses with real outcomes and the highest quality facilitators. Your failures will always offer you the greatest insights. Scrutinise them closely!
Lesson 10 – Focus on the execution
As an ideas woman and a visionary, I’m not always that good at execution. I often leave the marketing, promotions and the finer details of the course management to chance, which impacts on quality and outcomes. In 2015, I’m dedicated to flawless execution – by others. Execution is everything!
So that’s my end of year wrap for Slow School. In all, it’s been simply fabulous and the most rewarding experience because I know that I am on purpose. I hope you’ve found it insightful and helpful in establishing your own purpose-driven business. There’s no time like the holiday season to think deeply about your purpose and how you might shift into doing more meaningful work.
We all deserve to do work we love, with people we love, that makes a difference and is financially rewarding. If you’re thinking about this stuff over the holidays, give me a call or drop me an email and I’ll share with you some of the tools and tips that have helped me in my journey.
Have a wonderful festive season with your family, friends and loved ones.