Amy Wong from Dot Org Solutions LLC wants you to learn these three important lessons that will help your business grow and thrive.
By Amy Wong
When I first saw the call for contributing writers for the COSE blog, I immediately thought, I can do this. I’m a champion for small businesses and nonprofits and this is a great opportunity to share what I have learned along the way as a business owner—and to help you avoid the mistakes I have made.
I’m a writer at heart and have spent my career developing content for my employers, clients and now, our business. My goal is to take the joy I have in writing and bring you meaningful content that will help your organization grow.
I started Dot Org Solutions almost 13 “lucky” years ago. Like most business owners, I sought to fill a need that I didn’t think was being met. Along the way I have learned and made mistakes; I’ve seen employees come and go; I’ve grown as a leader; and I discovered that hiring good people, especially those who can execute my vision, is critical to the success of any business or organization.
But I’ve learned three other important lessons along the way. And by knowing these things, our business has matured, grown and, so far, survived a pandemic. I think these three lessons can help you too as you continue to grow your business and thrive.
Lesson no. 1: You must have three sets of plans.
Every organization should have an annual plan, a strategic plan (3-ish years) and a long-range plan (7-10 years). Each one serves a distinctly different purpose, but—when tied together—provide important guidance for your team.
Your long-range plan outlines your organization’s aspiration and goals for the future. Your strategic plan provides structure to help you achieve your long-range goals and puts your priorities front and center. Your annual plan outlines your goals for the year (sales, program, production, tactical, etc.) but also ties in “to-do” items from your strategic plan. If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that life is unpredictable. Plans can be changed when needed, but they need to be created first.
Bring your leadership team together to discuss your long-range vision and define it if you haven’t already. Develop a strategic plan to help you take steps toward making that vision a reality. And build accountable, actionable, and task-oriented plans to guide you through the year.
Lesson no. 2: Spending time defining and living by your core values is worth it.
If you and your leadership team don’t spend time developing and nurturing your organizational culture, your employees will. That often ends badly and is difficult to fix. Prospective employees (especially younger ones) are looking for organizations with strong, positive cultures and clear core values that align with their own. We’ve seen it ourselves at Dot Org. Candidates for the last three jobs we interviewed for specifically asked about our culture. We proudly shared our core values with them.
So, talk to your people about your culture. Take the time to define your core values and place them front and center. Use them as part of your HR strategy—including hiring and firing. Refer to them when times are tough. Let them guide you when making difficult decisions that may negatively impact your employees.
Lesson no. 3: People are looking for personalized experiences and relevant content.
The past two years have shifted the way many people communicate and receive information. While we’re starting to see more networking opportunities, conferences and events, people are continuing to spend more time researching things online. They have changed their buying habits (curbside pickup, anyone?). And they are being influenced through artificial intelligence (AI) and targeted content. Companies and organizations that are producing relevant content (not sales content) are going to benefit from these trends. People are looking for personalized experiences and want to have business relationships with people they feel like they can trust.
Use content marketing tactics by showing your leadership and knowledge about a topic in a blog, an e-book, social media content or video (not everything needs to be sales driven). Evaluate your website and make sure you include information that your customers are looking for and calls to action that are easy to find. Make your content short and “snackable.” People also want information in a hurry.
Spending time in these three areas is effective and we are already seeing the benefits of starting this intentional work nearly three years ago. As I look to the future of our company, I know that planning, culture and content will continue to be critical to our ongoing success and growth.
Over the coming months, I look forward to writing about relevant topics in leadership, marketing and planning. Hopefully, you will find some tips that you can use to help your business grow.
Amy Wong is president and founder of Dot Org Solutions LLC, (https://www.dotorgsolutions.com/) a creative and consulting firm delivering marketing, fundraising, consulting and strategic planning services to nonprofits and small businesses that work with nonprofit organizations. She is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program and is frequent speaker on the topics of leadership and marketing. She can be reached at email@example.com.