I have a hunch that if you’re looking for information to help you expand your doula practice, you probably aren’t a new doula. You probably have knowledge, experience and even a certain level of success, but now you’re stuck, stalled or in some other way feeling lost. You may think what you really need is sales training, marketing tips and SEO strategies, but trust me – what we need in these moments is not more strategies or lists or knowledge; what we need is a foundation, a clear cornerstone that we come back to when life gets in the way of living. That, my friends, is when I focus on my vision statement.
What is a vision statement?
A vision statement is a tool used to get to the heart of your purpose and help narrow your focus in order to make a calculated plan. This statement clarifies your passion, methods and goals so you have a clearly defined path on which to move your business forward and build momentum until you ultimately achieve the kind of success you want. This is different from a philosophy, business plan or a mission statement and taps into something much more powerful than all that. The vision statement is a strategic way of connecting the very core of who you are as a person with what it is you choose to do as a vocation.
My Vision Statement
“My passion is to instill confidence in parents and professionals by equipping them to achieve their goals. I combat myths with facts using simple and effective training techniques and by providing the tools and resources they need to make informed decisions and take action. Whether in childbirth or business, I help people discover what they want and give them a step-by-step plan to accomplish it.”
— Missy David
It Starts With Knowing Who You Are
At the center of your doula practice is YOU, and the truth of the matter is you are not black and white. In order to know where your practice is headed, you have to know the identity of your practice. To know that, you must know the identity of the people running it (you) and what drives them. Why? Because authenticity matters. Sure, you can fake it ‘til you make it, but that will only get you so far. People can spot a fake and when they do, that knowledge will feed a culture of distrust that will damage your brand, your identity and ultimately your product. What I mean is we can’t hide who we are. You can’t hide what you are truly passionate about, at least not forever, and if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing you won’t try very hard at it, and you won’t be very good. It can be tricky to figure out whether we should be leading with our hearts or our heads, but I have found that you simply can’t have one without the other. It’s not either or; it’s AND that gets the wheel of success spinning. This is especially true of birth workers. I have rarely met a doula who doesn’t have extremely personal reasons for pursuing this work. If we attempt to extricate every bit of the personal from our practices and focus only on the professional advancement, we will remove the very authenticity that makes our work meaningful. Your story matters. If it didn’t, then McDonald’s would only sell hamburgers, and not “Food, folks and fun,” and Tom’s would be just another shoe company.
How to Construct Your Vision Statement
I have seen the process of creating a vision statement help many childbirth professionals and other small business owners put a laser focus on their purpose and goals. While it’s not a complicated process, it requires cutting through the rhetoric and being honest with yourself. Here are the four strategic questions to ask yourself that will become the building blocks of your vision statement:
- What does your ideal client need or want? News flash: it’s not doula services. What emotion do they want to feel? Of all the people who show up on your proverbial doorstep to get information about pregnancy, childbirth or parenting, what characteristic connects them all?
- What challenge do they have that prevents them from achieving the answer to #1? Business owners who focus on solving a problem have phenomenal success. What problem do your clients have that you believe you can help them solve? What do you see as holding them back from getting the thing they want or need?
- What is your strategic plan to help them overcome that challenge? Again, this isn’t as simple as saying “I’m going to offer physical, emotional and informational support.” This isn’t a WHAT question; it’s a HOW question.
- What is your soapbox subject that you love talking about most? Inside and outside of birth work, what gets you on your soapbox? You can find this out about people pretty quickly by scrolling through their social media pages and seeing what they post about most often. What you talk about and how you spend your time, money and energy says a lot about what you care about most. This is the question that gets to the heart of authenticity and attracting the right customers to the product you’re actually selling.
Assembling Your Vision Statement
Now that you’ve dug deep and answered those questions, you’ll need to try to put together your answers in a very concise way so you can easily relay this statement to people. It may take time and many drafts, and will evolve as your practice does. This statement should get you excited and make you want to shout from the rooftops like Buddy the Elf saying, “I’m in love! I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it!” When you get this vision statement down, it will infuse itself into every fiber of what you do. It will be like the glasses you wear when analyzing everything you do. It will guide you in the wording you use when writing content for your website, organizing your welcome packets, communicating with care providers and clients, and define how you present yourself when representing your brand. If your goal is to empower people, then every decision you make will be guided by the level to which it accomplishes that for your clients. If your goal is to instill confidence, then every decision you make from the way you answer intake phone calls to the way you reply to emails will exude confidence to those with whom you interact.
Remembering Your Why
If you tap into your passion in a strategic way and focus on connecting with the desires of your clients, you will unlock a powerful purpose that will drive your business and that’s what a vision statement helps you do. Listen, what I’m about to say is crucial: all those struggles and distractions and roadblocks are not going to magically go away once you have a vision and a plan. But if you have an established vision statement to help focus you when the pressure is on, it will be your anchor through every storm of slow business, conflict, disappointment, and failure that you encounter and will keep your passion to succeed thriving. Did you encounter a traumatic birth experience with a client and feel rocked to your core about continuing in this work? Go back to your vision statement. Did you get a negative public review from a care provider that is threatening to tank your flow of new inquiries? Go back to your vision statement. Are you struggling with negative relationships with other childbirth professionals in your area? Go back to your vision statement. Your vision statement is the WHY to keep you going and also give you clarity on the WHAT of your products and processes. Your WHY is highly personal and that does not make it your weakness. It’s the one thing no one can steal from you and that will keep you going when the going gets rough. I can give you a step-by-step process for your sales, marketing, and products, but all of that will mean nothing if you don’t understand what your practice is rooted in and the underlying reason propelling you forward. I have helped many doulas, birth and postpartum professionals expand their practices, and it always starts by inspiring them to re-engage their vision and passion for what they do so they can find their own steps and their own path to success. Understanding and engaging your vision is the key to growing your practice in an organic and authentic way and will guide your success for many years to come.
— Missy David, CD(DONA), CYBET
About the Author Missy David is an entrepreneur, professional blogger, author and educator. She has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Oklahoma and has a passion for empowering women with knowledge and confidence. Missy is a certified birth doula through DONA International. She is the owner and creator of Your Birth Experience (TM), a comprehensive, customizable, modern approach to childbirth education combined with practical professional components to help childbirth professionals excel from a business perspective. The curriculum is designed for doulas and childbirth educators to get to know their clients and empower them in their birth and postpartum options. She and her husband, Marc, have 4 children and live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she also works as a professional blogger, public speaker, and doula with Tulsa Family Doulas.