There is a constant tension in the challenge of owning a NDIS-based business between growing (such that you can offer your services to a larger number of people) and losing touch with what you do and why.
Part of the reason we chose to establish Veritable, stepping out into the unknown, was to set the bar for quality services in Central Australia. The way in which the NDIS is designed, due in part to its deep and important commitment to choice and control, is ripe for potential exploitation of already marginalised and vulnerable populations.
In the mainstream, capitalist ‘achievement-focused’ world that many Westerners operate in, it is often assumed that we started the business in order to be in business. To create an income stream. To grow and expand. To be ‘successful’.
Our definition of successful is altogether different. Success is relationship. Trust. Connection. A genuine interest in and concern for the whole messy and wonderful lives of the people we support. Being open and attentive to what we don’t know, as much as what we might bring.
Success is also knowing that you did something useful, however small, for that person and their family. Knowing that you helped reduce the use of restrictive practice. That you listened slowly and deeply, and mapped a path together that could lead to positive change. That you saw your flaws for what they are, and took steps to improve. That you were humble enough to say you were wrong, to apologise and to commit to doing better next time.
With growth, comes the risk that these important qualities for the best work with people is lost. That the business becomes about key performance indicators, recruitment, business management, new office locations, and brand management. That the business becomes about the business itself. About sustaining itself, rather than the people within it and the people for whom it serves.
There does come a point when the next step forward into growth happens. Certainly, the NDIS is a positive game changer for Central Australia, in the support it can enable for many people. The drive to step into that space for growth (and all the risks it brings of losing touch with what we’re doing and why) is that, if done well, more people’s lives can be touched.
The challenge then is how to grow well, so that this genuine connectedness to the purpose of the work infuses all of the business. To grow in a values-driven way, so that all the people in the business understand what they are creating together. With people, and for people.