IMPACT ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS A QUEST
Coming up with solutions to societal challenges and creating value by implementing those solutions. That’s what being an Impact Entrepreneur is all about. It’s an exciting ride, with ups and downs, but rarely boring.
I have had the privilege and pleasure of being involved in starting and scaling dozens of projects. No two projects are the same. It takes vision, creativity and perseverance to make a business successful. Yet there is one constant. The project and the entrepreneur evolve hand-in-hand. A project cannot grow if the entrepreneur is not ready. Shaping a project from idea to impact, runs simultaneously with the growth process from Impact Entrepreneur to Impact Investor. More than anything else, entrepreneurship is a quest.
START-UP, SCALE-UP AND SUSTAIN-UP WITH THE QP QUEST
During various projects, I noticed that there were a number of steps that reoccurred each time and were crucial to sustainable growth success. I visualized these in the QP Quest model. It became a step-by-step process that can also guide you and your project through the 3 life stages of your business: start-up, scale-up and sustain-up. In reality, however, this is not always a linear process. Depending on your project, certain steps are more or less important. Certain steps come in one or another order. Sometimes you walk a procession of Echternach, go one step forward and then 2 steps back again. Either way, there are 2 steps that are a must in my vision. That is the first step: start with a business plan, and the last step: contribute to new projects. The latter is how we close the circle and create the positive ripple impact that our society so desperately needs today.
1. Create a business plan
Everything hinges on a good business plan. Many people then immediately think of the numbers, but that’s only part of the story. For our Impact Projects, we developed the QP Business Canvas. In this business plan, everything starts with the intention and purpose of the Impact Entrepreneur. What difference do you want to make with your project? What social challenge do you want to provide a solution for? With what product can you create a win-win-win? Who do you want to co-create with? What is your communication and sales strategy? How can you scale up to sustainably increase your positive impact? And yes also, how do you put your whole story into numbers: income, investments and expenses.
2. Communicate story
Once you have an initial sense of what you want to do, why you want to do it and how you If you have a project that creates value, there is always a strategy to attract funding. Especially if you have convincingly developed the previous 3 steps. With a start-up, it is common to put in your own money first. Then you start raising money from family and friends. When that money is immediately used to spend on the project, it’s gone. That often creates problems when the money is not earned back quickly enough by the project. But there are other strategies to fund your project. For example, you can safely invest both your own money and the capital raised in exchange for a monthly fixed return. You can use this to pay a return to the investor on the one hand and generate a monthly operating budget for your project on the other. The peace of mind this creates benefits your Impact Project and thus society. Also, this strategy is more attractive to family members and friends, which makes it easier to raise funds. Optionally, the value of the funds can be linked to the prices of gold, silver and lithium. On the eve of an expected rise in precious metals, this is a highly sought-after solution. In our mentoring program, we take a closer look at these and other financing strategies.
3. Connect with partners
Making a sustainable impact is not something you do alone. Besides, it’s much more fun together. With multiple partners you can divide the tasks. If the core team is put together correctly then everyone can do what they like most and are best at. The outcome will be way more professional then when you try to do it all yourself. With the right partners, 1 and 1 equals 3. Remember, good agreements make good friends. Ensure a healthy balance of give and take. Talk about mutual desires and expectations. It’s not just about what you want to accomplish together with your Impact Project. It is also about the underlying values that are going to determine how certain choices will be made now and in the future. Remember to always follow your gut feeling when choosing your business partners.
These 3 first steps of the QP Quest, constitute the start-up phase. These steps make your project more grounded, stable and resilient. They lay the foundation you need for sustainable growth in the next phase, the scale-up phase.
4. Collect funding
If you have a project that creates value, there is always a strategy to attract funding. Especially if you have convincingly developed the previous 3 steps. With a start-up, it is common to put in your own money first. Then you start raising money from family and friends. When that money is immediately used to spend on the project, it’s gone. That often creates problems when the money is not earned back quickly enough by the project. But there are other strategies to fund your project. For instance, you can safely invest both your own money and the capital raised, and use the return on that investment to generate a monthly operating budget. This gives you as a starting entrepreneur an immediate income. The peace of mind thus created also benefits your Impact Project and thus society. Also for familly members and friends, this strategy is much more attractive and secure. Moreover, the value of the funds can be linked to the prices of gold, silver and lithium. On the eve of an expected rise in precious metals, this is a most wanted solution. In our mentoring program, we take a closer look at these and other financing strategies.
5. Cultivate team
Once you have secured funding, you can begin expanding your team. You can start with a virtual assistant to whom you can delegate administrative tasks. Furthermore, you need someone who makes sure sales deals are closed every month. Investing in a good sales representative is a must. In consultation with sales, you can provide someone who also takes care of the necessary sales material, lead generation and communication on social media. The larger your team gets the more important it becomes to pay attention to team communication. There is a big difference between a group of individuals each doing their own work and a team working constructively together. The latter requires extra attention and effort from management. Make sure every individual gets the support, trust and resources to create value by using his or her unique talents in a creative way.
6. Construct system
The more people that are involved in your project the more important it becomes to work out procedures. This provides guidance, clarity and structure. This ensures efficiency and predictability. This also allows automation of repetitive tasks such as automatic lead generation by a fully automated converting website. Measuring is knowing. With a sales system you know how much turnover you will get each month and which bills can be paid. With a marketing system, you know what communications you need to make the impact you want. As your team grows you might want to set up your own academy. If it fits your business model you can develop an online membership product or even an online academy for your customers. You can easily scale up these systems. You can choose to share and exchange online content, systems and procedures with partners or likeminded regional organizations.
Steps 4 to 6 of the QP Quest, constitute the scale-up phase. You now have created recurring income streams for different products or services. The team is working together constructively, and all noses are pointed in the same direction. Now, the project is organized in such a way that it can continue successfully even if the founders choose to no longer be actively involved in day-to-day operations. You are ready to enter the sustain-up phase where your organization becomes more and more resilient. The likelihood of your organization continuing to exist grows exponentially. No matter what happens you have options and alternative solutions.
7. Convert to resources
Economic markets go through ups and downs. Just as it is wise for families to set aside money and invest for worse times and/or a rainy day. So is it with organizations and businesses. Especially in uncertain times such as today, it is good to set aside some of the profits for shorter or longer periods of time. You might consider Impact Lending or investing in real estate, farm land, mining, commodities, precious metals and/or safe financial products that allow you to maintain your purchasing power. If you also want to spread risk geographically, you can make a nice mix of investments in and outside Europe. If you are thinking about expanding internationally, this may also be the time to reorganize and restructure. You may find it useful to start a branch outside of Europe as well. Thus, your organization becomes relatively crisis-proof and truly sustainable for the future.
8. Continue creating impact
Always remember why you started your project. Keep tweaking where necessary to continue to make an impact for the benefit of society. Times change, needs change and opportunities arise. Perhaps there are now other ways or tools to help you increase your impact. Make adjustments where necessary, but always respect the company’s regenerative DNA. Always consider the win-win-win principle. Provide a win for everyone involved in the project: the customers, the suppliers, the team and partners, the founders, the investors and win for the greater good, society and the planet.
That said, there is yet another way for you to make even more impact. When you have arrived at this step you have grown immensely as an Impact Entrepreneur and also as an Impact Investor. You undoubtedly have an inspiring story and masses of knowledge and experience. Now the time has come to inspire and motivate others. Do you dream of writing a book? Do you want to be on stage as a speaker? Do you want to become a mentor or a trainer? Just connect, I’m looking forward to hearing and sharing your story.
9. Contribute to new projects
Those who reach this final step have a lot to be grateful about. You don’t achieve this overnight, and you don’t do this alone. This takes a team effort as well as a network that supports you and grant you your success. Step 9 is an opportunity to pay it forward, an opportunity to support another project or start a new spin-off, an opportunity to leave a legacy. You can choose to invest time and be a mentor for new ventures. You can choose to contribute financially. Reaching this step is the ultimate goal in the QP Quest. Because every new project is creating a new ripple Impact. At the same time, the new project enhances the impact of other collaborating ventures. Either way, it’s what drives me forward. The more projects we can support, the more difference we can make.
JOIN ME ON THIS QP QUEST
If you are an Impact Entrepreneur, you are invited to join me on the QP Quest. You can start exploring the free training.
If you are an Impact Investor, you are welcome to connect. Opportunities are waiting for you.
Let’s join forces and co-create this new society where our children can thrive and be the free minded explorers and entrepreneurs they are born to be.
Let’s create, connect and care.