The decision to open a new organization or introduce a novel program can be very exciting. Those of us in the Torah service community are driven to give, to educate and to inspire, and oftentimes look for new ways by which we can engage others. Yet, any new endeavor comes with risks, not the least of which is fiscal and logistical viability.
Whether you possess meaningful experience or are just starting out, there are certain things that you need to know and do in order to successfully navigate through the uncertainties of advancing your dreams. In order to be successful, I suggest that you take lots of “Vitamin C” and think in the following terms: Clarity, Customization, Communication and Connection, and Collection.
Clarity – Before you start, try to clarify exactly what it is that you seek to do. Create a vision. What are your goals? Do you have the requisite tools in order to make them happen? How do you see your endeavor in Year 1? In Years 5 and 10? What will you need to do in order to get where you want to be? Do as much homework as possible. Talk to people in the field who have gone down the road before you. Ask specific questions about their successes and failures. What would they do differently if they were starting again? Such information can be invaluable as you conceive your way forward.
Customization – You likely have heard the expression “Jack of all trades, master of none.” This line describes the profile of someone who has learned many skills but has not come to master any of them or has failed to establish a clearly defined niche within the market. What is your expertise? Why would someone want to come to what you are offering, especially in a market that is saturated with others who are doing similar work? Make sure to pinpoint exactly what it is that you seek to provide and focus your branding efforts and energies towards that end.
Communication and Connection – People want to know that you are interested in them as people before your interest in them as clients. Find ways to meet people, through referrals and networking events. Then make sure to stay in touch. Grow and maintain a strong and updated contact list. As with many other aspects of marketing and client relationships, this can seem like an onerous task and will often be placed on the back burner, particularly when you are understaffed. However, gaining contacts and then staying current with your list is an important way to deepen relations and confidence over time, which will result in greater impact.
Collection – It is also valuable to collect testimonials, personal feedback from satisfied students and donors who have benefitted from your organization. A short paragraph can be posted on your website, LinkedIn page, or included in your print materials. While you are at it, prepare a short but diversified list of referrals that others can be directed to reach out to.
The above strategies have been proven to help people take their first, challenging steps with greater confidence and success. I encourage you to take your “C’s” early and often to ensure that you begin along a path that will hopefully bring you to the success and fulfillment that you seek.