A Blog Series by Graham Edwards and Renée Cormier
This is the first in a series of thoughts and opinions by Graham Edwards and Renée Cormier — click here to read the backstory and inspiration (if only for the entertainment). It should be noted that neither of us have seen or discussed our answers before they are posted, which in our mind makes this all the more interesting.
In this blog series, we will attempt to answer ten different questions business owners may need to be answered, using our individual and unique perspectives and approaches. It is our hope that this series will inspire both action and interaction. Please feel free to comment and ask more questions.
Question #1: How can I create a fuller picture of the nature of my business Graham —
In my mind there is a much bigger (and more important) question hidden within this question:
”What is the nature of my business, or what is my business?”
I put this out there for no other reason than I keep asking myself, “How can you ‘create a fuller picture’ if you are not really sure what the nature of your business is?” I have now started to morph this into something that could get very big and very complicated, so let me anchor all of this with the customer — because in the end, who else would we be creating a fuller picture for?
There may be more but I have found there are four types of customers that come into the sphere of consideration for any business:
- The end-user who purchases your goods or services
- The employee(s)
- The community that you are in (I also include regulators here)
- The shareholder or investor (current and future)
This now allows us to align “the customer” with what the business is, and more importantly develop language to communicate and paint a picture for the customer; this language defines the business and needs to be developed in such a way that it can be articulated easily and clearly (be it to one person or one million). There are a number of strategic vehicles that will develop the language of what the company is, as well as create the framework for strategic thinking and execution. I believe these are the four most important:
The business’ vision: the company’s road map indicating what the company wants to become and the guiding transformational principles which set the company’s direction. This should be developed into a written statement. *
The business’ mission: the organization’s purpose, identifying the scope of its operations: — what kind of product or service it provides, its primary customers or market, and its geographical region of operation. This should be developed into a written statement. *
The value proposition: the benefits customers get when buying a particular product or service from the business. It should convince consumers that this product or service is better than others on the market — this can lead to a differentiating value proposition*
The business plan: a formal statement of business goals, the market, reasons they are attainable, and plans and activities for reaching them. It is important to have a detailed financial perspective associated with your business plan. *
This can be all be done on a piece of paper, a 20-slide presentation or a 100-page document but in the end, it is important to have it written down — getting your business down in black and white makes real, easier to communicate and minimizes creative interpretation of what the business is really all about.
- Creating a fuller picture of the nature of your business comes down to three areas:
- Understanding your customers.
- Determining your Vision, Mission, Value Proposition, and have a Business Plan.
Align (and effectively communicate) your business to the appropriate customer segment, while ensuring the core message of your business is the same no matter who the customer is.
I suppose you could argue that the more marketing channels you use to communicate your business, the fuller the picture of the business will be, but then again if the aspects of the business are unclear then really all you get is a picture of the business that is fuzzy.
And besides, having done the business plan you will have realized your marketing plan is rather limited when it comes to OPEX so you will have to get very, very creative.
Your investors will definitely appreciate that.