Clarity for Your Business

What business am I in?

Seems like a simple question, right? However, so many times, it is hard for an owner to answer or to define their business. Admittedly this is not an easy question or exercise, nor is it mean to be. Common issues are focusing too much on ourselves or the product and not the customer and the problem the service or product solves for the customer.

An answer to this question will have a balanced focus on the company’s product or service as well as the impact those elements have on customers and co-workers. Don’t stop here. Keep expanding the definition. It needs to be as broad as possible. Avoid the trap in accepting your first answer. Take time, ask others’ opinions, do some self-reflection.

What Does the Future Hold?

The next question is meant to take into consideration the future. Ask yourself “What business might you be in?” No matter what industry you are in, things are going to change. Be it technology, economy, job market, political atmosphere or the environment, things are constantly changing. If you think your product or service, or even business and model can stay status quo, this thinking could be detrimental.

But don’t forget about your personal goals and job satisfaction as well. If nothing changes, would you still be happy doing what you are doing today in five years, ten years, twenty years? Is there something you can do today that will help prepare for the future, including things that create the ideal future for yourself?

Finally, answer the question of “What business should you not be in?” Sometimes this can be an even more important question. For example, unless the company is going to be extremely customer focused, taking the product directly to consumers may not be feasible. Perhaps being a B2B wholesale only focused company is ideal.

How Well Do You Understand the Industry and Market?

So far, we have defined the business and what the future potentially holds for the business, product or service and yourself as a leader. Next, how well do you and your team know the industry and the market?

Questions to ask yourself and your team members:

  • Who is my competition?
  • Who are my customers?

The key to this exercise is to be realistic. This is extremely important when thinking about competitors. Think about online and offline competitors. For example, the managing partner of a law firm correctly identified Nolo and LegalZoom to be competitors for some of their routine law services including forming businesses, wills, trusts and simple contracting. Another owner of a product repair shop identified YouTube and their extensive collection of “how-to repair” videos.

Of course, there is the local business down the street that can also be a competitor as well. Remember, do not get hung up on all the nuisances of the competitors or make assumptions about them doing better or similar thinking in this exercise. Too many times companies become too worried about competitors and stop focusing on their customers. Just use this to be aware of what is going on in the industry.

Same with customers. Use data of current customers do not make assumptions. A client once told their marketing firm to run Gmail sponsored ads, and when they failed, finally looked at their leads email addresses to find over 75% used Yahoo mail. Also, do not let your personal opinions or what you like or dislike influence defining your customers. Just because you like competitive sports and the product you offer does not mean your customers are sports lovers.

Focus on Yourself

Now that the business elements have been identified, the focus is on the leader. As a human being, you have strengths and limits, things you excel at and others you do not. Having an accurate self-assessment is crucial for both yourself and the business.

Ask yourself “What are the areas I excel in?” and “What are the areas I do not excel in?” For the areas you excel, you need to make sure you have time to commit to these areas and that there is not someone else in the organization that is actually more advanced than you in this area. Spend more time thinking and planning the areas you do not excel in. Figure out if this should be delegated or even out-sourced. Trying to make your way through tasks that you don’t know, don’t like or are not proficient in, will have a negative impact on the business.

Identify the Critical Constraints

What is holding you or the business back? What is causing the traffic jam that is stopping you or the business, or both, grow? Hint, about 80 percent of all constraints holding you and the business back from hitting goals are internal. Leaving 20 percent as external. What does this mean? Most of the issues sit with your own beliefs, opinions and skillsets or even processes, habits, or the lack of these things.

Changes to Make

In addition to our business elements, you are now armed with information about yourself and the impact on the business. Based on this information, what needs to change in the business? What should remain the same? And the biggest questions:

  • What should the business start doing?
  • What should the business stop doing?
  • What should the business continue doing?

Clarity Sets the Direction

Ultimately, having clarity in the business, in yourself, in your team, allows the direction to set. Think of it is a declaration, the business is “X” with “X” being what you define. And this statement should be clear through the organization. Everyone should be striving for “X.” This makes decision-making easy for everyone. The question is simply: “Does this help us achieve ‘X’?”

Clarity & Goals: Winning Combination

The combination of setting goals and having clarity in the business, and yourself, has the potential of setting you apart and moving forward. These things do not necessarily come about easily in a vacuum. Set up a call with me today and find out how I can help you in setting goals and clarity and much more.

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