David Schluter – Fluid IT
My goal when I set up Fluid IT eight years ago was to provide IT services and support to SMEs – particularly non-profits.I started Fluid IT because I was fed up of seeing the small charities around me misspending the precious little funding they had on their IT infrastructure and services. The goal was to establish a service that, by providing a readily accessible, affordable and transparent IT service, would help these organisations deliver their work. These three key factors together, I felt, were never available from any service provider.
Just as our 7th year in business was drawing to a close (and only a couple of months after my daughter was born!) I was invited on a two-week Watershed residential course. It was not an easy commitment to make from either the family or the business perspective, but with the promise of some really high quality input on the business plan, potential access to investors and training that was well aligned to my core value system, it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.
Whilst it was perhaps hardest to conceptualise in advance, starting the two weeks with the business simulator was fantastic. For me it was a time of really getting to grips with what the balance sheet means again, and was extremely valuable learning. It was very practical, easy to apply and hugely entertaining at the same time. I can’t say I’ve ever had a balance sheet come across like that before. The change of pace into the retreat phase then brought about what became the most significant part of the two weeks for me. Usually when I have time away from the business, I do everything I can to avoid thinking about it. Actually having time a step back from the front-line, but with permission to think about it intentionally, was extremely helpful. This reflective time helped enormously in three ways: I caught a fresh sense of the vision for the organisation, I was able to articulate the vision much more clearly and I learned a huge amount about my core abilities, and what it is that I have to offer (which in conjunction with the Wilsher colour profiles went a long way in acknowledging my weaknesses, and the skills I need in the people around me!)
The focus of the second half on the Business Model Canvas was invaluable, and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve referred back to this since the program. It has been key in explaining the remit, focus, strategy and underpinning business of what we do to people, which in the past has been very difficult to do. I now know that I can do it comprehensively and accurately in 10 minutes, which is no mean feat!
It was something that took a long time to develop, as beyond the business layer is the social layer with its own costs, revenues, resources etc, but again on top of that was the spiritual layer – both the impetus behind and the foundation for the organisation as a whole. Again, the process of articulating all of this – first in fine detail, and then more concisely – has really served to hone my ability to communicate what we are about.
Enabling others to understand what we do helps them to engage faster, and get on board more quickly; a key driver for success, and certainly helpful in accelerating networking!