By Chama Woydak,LCCE, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA)
Are you an ideas person? Do amazing ideas for your doula practice come to you while driving, enjoying your morning coffee, or supporting a client? Does it sometimes feel like a curse to have so many thoughts on how you can grow your practice and better serve your clients? I absolutely can relate! I run a birth and postpartum doula agency, a childbirth education service, and an integrative health and education center. There are SO many ways I can grow my business and impact my community. Each idea is a labor of love for my practice, and like labor, it’s best to be prepared – with information, energy and courage.
However, my ideas can be like the siren’s song, enticing me to spread myself too thin. They take my business and pull it into 10 different directions which can create confusion in the community about what I do and who I serve, frustration among my contractors that I always seem to be launching something new, and can prevent me from focusing on the unique value my business offers. Expanding services and offerings is tempting, though, especially if your practice is young and you’re trying to grow your reach. There is value in expanding services to meet a need in your community and create new avenues of income for yourself and your company. The investment of time, energy, and money to add a new offering to your practice has to be evaluated to make sure it’s worth it. New offerings are a bit of a risk. The important thing is to take smart risks that support your success. And success is however you define it!
The investment of time, energy, and money to add a new offering to you practice has to be evaluated to make sure it’s worth it.
I’ve recently adopted a tool from the book, “The PEACE Process for Marketing” by Miriam G. Zacharias to quickly evaluate new ideas for my practice. She has developed this wonderful “fill in the blank” statement:.
This service/product can help ________________[target audience] to ____________________ [be aware of, accomplish or what] so they can ________________ [outcome they experience]
There are several reasons I really like this tool:
- It’s simple! I don’t need complicated tests for a new idea, just something to help me evaluate whether it’s worth further consideration.
- It connects the product or service to a target audience. Thinking through who wants or needs this offering is critical. This helps me evaluate whether the idea is something I can offer to my existing clients or if it will connect me with a new target market. If it’s a new market, I then can ask if I’m positioned to attract and support them.
- Identifies the problem. The middle part of the statement addresses what the client needs to do, know or have. This helps me make sure I am meeting an actual need or desire.
- I have to determine the value to the client. Describing the outcomes is what the client will get from this offering and that is ultimately what they are paying for.If my idea passes this test and I am happy with the above statement, then I feel more confident investing the time and energy to take it to the next level!
Got an idea that passes the test? Now what? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here are some guidelines to make the best use of your time and increase the success factor for your new idea.
1. Define success in your own words. What outcome(s) will mean this idea worked and supported your overall goals for your practice? Are you looking for profitability/economic sustainability, creating connection in the community, filling a niche in an underserved population, being seen as a leader in your community, developing a good reputation at your local hospital, etc? No idea will do all those things so be realistic about your priorities.
2. Decide who is on your team and what does each person have to give (time, skills, money) to this new idea? If you are riding solo, would this idea be more successful and a better use of your time if you were to collaborate with someone else? What mentors, vendors (i.e. printing companies), subject experts, community leaders, etc can help you launch this idea?
3. Brainstorm who would be interested in this new product or service. The target audience was identified using the above test, but now it’s time to ask are these audience the clients you want? Are they a match for your unique contribution to your community? Are there referral sources or partners who would be excited about this offering?
4. Create a plan to execute your idea. This should include estimated time and money involved, action steps, and a concrete timeline for your plan.
5. Evaluate “success.” Again, success is however you define it. Once you launch the idea, make sure to go back and see if it worked! Did you have more sales, registrations, get an article in your local paper, have a blog post that was shared on a major social media outlet? This step allows you to adapt and refine the original idea and assess whether all the work you put in was “worth” the investment.
Deciding to implement new products or services, like all things in life, carries an element of risk. Putting yourself or this idea out there to the world can feel vulnerable, intimidating and scary on many levels. I often compare bringing new ideas to fruition with labor and birth After days, month and years of hard work and finally pushing your baby (idea) out and introducing it to the world, someone could say that your baby is too big, too small or even worse yet, could completely ignore her! It takes a lot of courage to put ourselves out there. Remember, the best innovations in our world came from people making mistakes and refining the process. When you take a well-planned risk, it will inspire many other doulas to do the same, pushing the envelope for our profession.
So at 2 a.m. when the sirens sing their enchanting songs of new business ideas, you can thank them for their beauty and inspiration, smile and wave, and then steer your ship in confidence away from the rocks of shipwreck and into the dawn of success!
About the Author
Chama is a fun-loving, energetic and compassionate mom who has been attending births as a Doula in Asheville since 1999, teaching childbirth classes since 2002, and running her own business since 2003. She is a Lamaze Childbirth Educator as well as a DONA International Birth Doula and a Birth Doula Trainer. Chama is the owner of Homegrown Babies a birth, postpartum and childbirth education agency, and of the Homegrown Families Health and Education Center, an integrative health center in Asheville, NC.