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The Process

The opportunity was too good to pass up. Katy and Rick had bought an old ranger station in Buena Vista, Colorado, and wanted help launching a new venture. So Micah and I moved to Colorado to help. But what was the business to be? Who would it serve? And how could it both positively impact the community and be sustainable?

Launching a successful business takes more than just coming up with a logo, a website, and cool business cards. It takes long discussions. It takes creating a strong brand with a clear direction. It takes aligning the principals on “why” the business should exist. Simple, right?


Every businesses can tell you what they do. (“We sell computers” or “We sell coffee.”)  That is the result of all there effort, the end product or service. Most can even explain how they do it, the process they go through to create the result. But few can articulate why they exist. Why do a company’s leaders and the employees get out of bed each morning and head to the office? Simply to make money is a weak foundation to build a business upon. Can you envision a business stating Our mission is to make money. Not all that inspiring, is it? So why is a business doing what it’s doing? What is its purpose for existing?

Those are the first questions we explored with Katy and Rick.

Through a series of workshops, we discovered the driving passion behind Katy and Rick’s discussion to purchase the ranger station. We established the “why” of the new business. Once we had the “why,” the “how” and “what” quickly followed.

Understanding the purpose of a business is a vital first step in building a brand. Communicating that purpose in a compelling way is how a brand takes root and grows.

How is that done? Through storytelling.

From the dawn of time, humans have connected with each other through stories. It’s how we communicate and share. It’s how we inspire action in others.

Discovering Katy and Rick’s new business’s story meant identifying the things that made it unique—and how that uniqueness could help others and help better the world. Sounds lofty, true. But it’s a trait all great brands and businesses share, the desire to solve a problem. The desire to somehow improve life.

More workshops. More discussions. More decisions made.

The story emerged.

We then began the process of editing, revising, and refining the story until we had a clear, compelling narrative written in a tone and style that matched the business’s personality. This narrative directed the mission statement, the business’s guiding principles, and all of its inward and outward facing communications.

Now came the fun part: naming the new business.

We’d done an exercise picking five adjectives to define the business, so we knew how we wanted to be perceived. We came up with over a hundred options, whittled the selection down to a few. Ultimately, Rick landed on the name that embodied all the traits of the new business: Watershed. A place for turning points, new beginnings.

As the website states:

At Watershed, we believe that when community members come together to collaborate and create, great things happen.

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to collaborate and create with Katy and Rick. And I can attest, great things are happening.