Using a Business Model to Transform Our School

Using a Business Model to Transform Our School

Stephen Carter
August 5, 2023
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Success Statements

The Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Program at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy has experienced explosive growth in the last three years and starting this school year, we have six full-time people dedicated to developing the entrepreneurial mindset in all learners. While there are many factors contributing to this healthy growth, one that stands out is our laser focus on success statements. Whether before a meeting, while planning an event, or designing a class, we always ask ourselves “what does success look like?” By creating four or five clearly defined success statements, we have created a metric to gauge the effectiveness of the meeting or event or class. This gives us benchmarks and goals, making way for implementing the lead and lag measures of the Four Disciplines of Execution approach.

An example of this occurred this week during our start-of-the-year team training. At the start, I drew three circles on the board and wrote “clarity,” “inundated,” and “excited” under each respective circle. I then filled the “clarity” circle in completely and explained that by the end of training, success means full and complete clarity around the job, the expectations, and the evaluations. The “inundated” circle was then filled half-way, demonstrating that while the content may be intense, it will not leave us feeling completely overwhelmed. Finally, the circle for “excited” was not only filled completely but overflowed far beyond the bounds of the circle.

By the end of the training, success meant excitement that cannot be contained. Clarity is kindness, and success statements, clearly articulated before meetings, events, classes, or other projects, lead to clarity and this leads to a well-deserved celebration when the success statements can be checked off. This is true not only for entrepreneurship programming but for all scenarios where we desire successful outcomes.


The Students are your Customers

The ideology that builds a strong business is a clear understanding of the problem and the customer. So often in independent education, however, we treat our students and our parents as the problem and not as the customer. Imagine the power of starting the school year with a clearly articulated plan to increase customer engagement. Imagine having the goal of turning your customers into raving fans, of becoming the Chick-Fil-A of education.

This is not a pipe dream. A culture shift toward seeing students as customers is as simple as understanding that the independent school is a business and that, as a business, it provides a product (in the form of an education). The business will only be as strong as the product and the problem that product solves for the customer. Most of us are sitting on amazing products—just walk the halls of your school (maybe in a few weeks when the bookshelves, desks, and random equipment has found a home) and visualize the education that will be taking place in a few days. This product has been designed for a customer, and those customers will soon be flooding your place of business hungry to consume the product.



Imagine your culture infused with growth mindset, grit, redefining failure, and opportunity seeking. Imagine your team acting and thinking like entrepreneurs.

Stephen Carter  

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