The #1 reason business fail today is a distinct lack of clarity in everything about their business! In today’s market we many times see businesspeople that have been in business twenty years or more who will fail due to a lack of clarity about their business or about marketing their business. If you haven’t noticed, how we conduct business is changing drastically almost daily and it will continue to change. New options; new technology; smarter customers and an uncertain economic environment all contribute to this tsunami of change.
In order to do effective planning it is essential to have total and complete clarity about all facets of your business in order to plan accurately. Oh, you can plan but if your plan is based on old and uninformed thinking then how effective will the plan really be? As the old axiom goes, “Have you been in business twenty years, or, one year twenty times?”
I have a number of “Clarity” questions that I always focus on with my business coaching customers. I do caution you to not take the easy route to answering the questions. Don’t be lazy and answer with the easiest answer. Dig deep and be honest. The only way for this exercise to work is for you to really think about them. Do some research and just open your eyes. Talk to your employees and talk to your customers and more importantly talk to your prospects. Understand who they are and what they need from their point of view. Then have the clarity to be able to, (maybe for the first time) tell them who you are in a clear and concise manner.
- What business is your company in? One of the greatest blocks to a business’ growth is the lack of clarity regarding the true business in which it is engaged. If you don’t believe me do this simple test. Conduct a: 15 second exercise and ask your employees, or friends and associates what business they think you’re in. You WILLbe surprised at the answers you get! Keep in mind that the true business that you’re in is really what you’re business does for your customers. The classic example is of the railroad industry. Everything changed when the industry discovered that they weren’t in the railroad business…they were in the transportation business. Another good example is real estate. Are you in the real estate business? Or, are you the person that helps families make the best decision in the biggest financial decision they might ever make! There’s a big difference.
- What is the core competency of your company? A business only succeeds to the degree to which it is aware of and capitalizes on its core competency. So, what ONE thing does your company do better than anything else? Are you featuring that competency and taking advantage of it?
- What is your core product or service? You had better have complete and total clarity in what products or services are paying the bills. Apply Pareto’s Law here. You might know it as the 80/20 rule. What 20% of your products are giving you 80% of the revenue? Many researchers now say due to the impact of competition, the internet and economic changes that the rule is now the 90/10 rule. Whichever you choose to work with, you should know what people want and what they don’t. Run the numbers and get rid of products and services that don’t sell and focus your business and your time on the ones that do.
- Who is your core or ideal customer? Based on your answer of the 90/10 rule exercise, who buys those products and services? What do they look like? What is their age; income; family status; wants; needs; desires; hopes and fears. This is an essential point of clarity as many businesses’ have all of their marketing targeted at an audience that simply is not their customers and with that, their marketing dollars are wasted.
- What does your ideal customer consider value? Don’t guess here. You had better be doing some research. Talk to your customers and prospects. Do some simple surveys and understand what they want from THEIR point of view. Is it price or quality? Is it service or on-time delivery? Simply put, the worst enemy of any relationship is unmet expectations. So understand what your customers and prospects want and expect. Then make the changes necessary and deliver!
- Who is your core competition? The question isn’t always who the competition is, but today, WHAT is the competition? Is your competition really the obvious competition? Take a second look and understand this point of clarity. Sometimes you’re biggest competition is not another business but many times is the internet for instance. If you don’t have a presence there, then everyone who sells your products or services on the internet IS your competition.
There are five more CORE questions that we’ll cover in our next installment on December 30th, 2013. Remember, if you answer these questions with total and complete honesty and get the highest level of pure and complete clarity then everything will change for you and your business. EVERYTHING!