Before I felt that I was doing everything and holding it all up. Now I can reposition myself to build more opportunities to have more impact.

Helen's story

I lead a charity called Arts for Impact, which uses art to bring people together in an environment that creates a way of achieving greater fulfilment and connectivity to support better health and wellbeing in people. We truly believe that everybody has a strong contribution to make in their community, whatever their age or the challenges they face; for as long as we breathe we have a role to play. Art can play a huge part and this was proven with the demand for our product and service.

I have a team that is very committed to the cause, yet there are certain processes and ways I want them to come together to do things in a similar way to ensure high quality delivery.
What was my situation?

We feel blessed, unlike many charities, with funding and a strong network of supporters who believe in what we stand for, supported by a team of artists who are equally as passionate about their contribution and are loyal to the difference we want to make. The feedback I receive everyday reassures me we are making that difference and my personal purpose is to ensure everybody feels value in their lives.

I’ve always been quite determined to keep the joy in what I do, yet often seem to be running around in circles, struggling to keep up with an ever increasing list of things that need to be done, and an overwhelming feeling of wanting to do even more and reach more people. The bigger challenge ahead of me is the one I think about more than anything; the sustainability of our charity. We are well funded, however,

I think there is a way that we can be more of a non-profit “social enterprise,” being more sustainable with our services and making them available to a broader community without losing our soulprint or charity status. This means a shift from just benefitting my immediate community with funding, to a position where we can play a bigger role and a stronger part in proactive healthcare and wellbeing to a broader group.

What was stopping our growth plan?

The challenge of shifting from funding reliance to a business model that was supported by a combination of both customer revenue and funding donations created so many questions for me, the board and how it would be presented to other stakeholders. It felt like I never had the time to work out the answers; can our charity grow with the intention of becoming more sustainable? Can our efforts then be spent using funds to produce a greater calendar of events without losing our charitable status?

There’s a fear of growing: my deepest concern was whether we would lose the soulprint of compassion and quality care as we began to serve a broader community.

What did I do?

Step 1: Defined a clearer purpose to connect more effectively with my team. I always felt I knew who our target audience was and I really believed we could positively influence their well being through art. However, in explaining the purpose of Arts for Impact to others I realised the many different expressions that were being used to describe the same thing. Redefining the avatar was essential; who do we change the lives of? We know we help the art student, letting art give them value, however, the biggest impact we made was beyond them. It was the wider community of their relatives who could see the power that that reconnection gave to the student themselves. Knowing who this person was, their emotions and struggles brought simplicity to our purpose and was the starting point to not only protect our soulprint, but also to define the spirit of what we stood for and the way in which we wanted to be seen by our community. Clearly picturing this person allowed us to easily map the organisational values and deepen the impact we could make. Who we are had an even better chance of thriving with my whole team living and breathing it, we had a unified way to express our purpose, something so solid that it would stand strong as we grew.

Our service was simplified and I was worried we would not be able to support the needs of everybody. However, we could help more and do it better by being more focused.

Step 2: Created a step by step process that would consistently deliver our purpose in a unique way. We needed to decide how to simplify what we did, the needs of our original avatar were diverse and we were often offering fairly bespoke approaches to each art student, which spread myself and the team too thinly. Now we knew the avatar as being the direct relative, the way we could positively impact their lives was very much shared. This meant the process was simpler, it wasn’t the bespoke courses that made us unique, it was the values that we had mapped into how we did it, creating a team charter of how we should work to keep us going that extra mile, working as one brand.

Step 3: Began to build a more sustainable business model that broadened our reach. With simplicity, our product became clearer and more aligned with the team and with everybody moving as a collective group. The way we worked became as much a part of the products as the paint and brushes, we had built the value creation process, the core of who we were. Now with an established and reviewed core process we are in a position to open up to a broader community by innovating our courses to support the health and well being of families, group of friends, community and corporate teamwork who’s income we could use to support funding our core.

How this came to life: the process we followed

Express & translate your purpose

I rephrased my purpose and what was truly important to me and then considered how this translated into the purpose of Arts for Impact, committing to referring to it in a particular way known by all: “to create opportunities for our community with access to high quality art activities to support their health and wellbeing.” From this, we translated our company purpose into the organisational values. By involving my team at an early stage I could gather their thoughts in making our values reflect what we do, ensuring everyone knew what we stood for. We could all then feel confident that these values could be part of our service and the full customer journey to make the difference we wanted to make. 

A process to consistently deliver

Knowing my avatar was the relative allowed me to focus my energy in the right direction. Understanding their pains and pressures made the purpose even stronger and helped me to solidify the service. It was easier to build a full picture of the business model and I was able to map out the journey from our purpose right the way through to our avatar knowing what needed to happen and the roles people would play. This helped our group of artists understand their contribution towards one picture and to celebrate everybody's art specialism and passion to funnel it more powerfully into our common cause. We built a trust which gave me the confidence that every workshop would reflect our purpose.

A more sustainable business model

We translated the organisational values into the way we worked, each value standing for the approach we took and the levels of care in teaching art through to celebrating the final outcome. We then defined the process as a team, using our values as a guide at each touch point. How could we provide confidence at that stage, how could we celebrate efforts? From this we created a role commitment for each team member highlighting their contribution and responsibilities. The simplicity in purpose and a trust and confidence that we could deliver at an even greater quality every time created the backbone of our business model, enabling us to consider opening up to more people.

A shift in our avatar led to a simplified and sustainable business model that didn’t have to come at the cost of my values and soulprint. It empowered a team where we could share together the journey, no matter how different our art professions were, no matter the challenges the customers in our classes had. Our values and knowing the part in the process we played was the glue that bound us together, setting us up for a greater growth than I ever could have imagined, simply because my purpose was happening through others everyday – I was sure of that.

We stood as a group of artists, unified not just with our love of art but also with a unified viewpoint on how we could give that joy to others.

One piece of advice I would pass onto another female entrepreneur:

To trust the process and remain faithful to the element that sparked you. Get on with things. Accept it may take time and mistakes will be made. Accept that other people have their own journeys and it is not a race. Understand and trust your own drivers and be open to sharing them with other people wholeheartedly, unedited. Julie’s Wyseminds process has helped me distill my reasons for pursuing this mission. The reflection and challenge has forced me to a place that I’ve had to define my purpose and that has lifted me away from the can I, can’t I questions. Instead I’m asking myself, why am I doing this? I’m clear on my reasons and will find solutions with my team, led by personal drive and passion for the impact we wish to make.

Introducing Helen and how her next step could work for you:

Videos: Helen's story

Here we interview Helen and in her own words, she explains the situation Arts for Impact was in and how discovering the right next step for growth, unleashed the potential of her business and her ability to make an even greater impact.

What's next?

All too often there is just one thing in a business that is causing misalignment and it’s this one thing that can make growth feel harder than it should. To receive an extensive growth guide that highlights where misalignment might sit in your company along with recommendations on discovering the right next step for growth, take our Wyseway questionnaire. We hope you’ll see how your journey can be simple, clear and joyful just like Helen’s!