Too often, I meet with companies who are their fly stage before they have even begun to crawl. They are selling their ideas, products, services, they have business cards, yet they struggle to understand why they cannot reach their target markets or have customers lining up. This is not uncommon in small or large enterprises - where priorities can change by the day or between meetings. Everyone is focused on generating revenue without understanding that incredibly simple process and steps that are repeatable will ensure success in their operations, marketing, and sales efforts.
The struggle begins with how and where you divide your time. What activities have value and how you divide yourself and team with networking and events?
Moments of honesty, trusted advisors, and a good sounding board who can give you real criticism and feedback are a start.
In my experience, it has been beneficial to keep people that are in my network and out of my network as part of the conversation. You can't surround yourself completely with a group that only gives you the answers you want.
That being said, when I work with companies that can't give me an elevator pitch of what they do, I ask the same group of questions each time. The list is simple and small however the responses can be varied. Sometimes I get short concise bullets, other times I'm met with lengthy manifestos that don't answer the questions and defend why there isn't time for ________ (fill in the blank). Some companies don't do competitive analysis - they believe themselves to be different. This is good and bad. The numbers are real, 90% of startups fail. That's right, nine out of 10. So what are the differentiators between them?
Business Process Management - 'The boring stuff' that no one wants to do is a differentiator. It's the moment where are a new CEO, president or principal - you shift hats and gears and begin the mindset of working on your business and not in it.
These simple questions are great framework and foundation for ensuring you have brand vision and clarity within your business and help you take a pulse:
- What do you do (in 45 seconds or less)?
- What does your company stand for in your mind? In your teams mind?
- What is your mission?
- Why do you do it?
- What makes your company unique?
- What value does your company provide to you?
- The company's / team's greatest strengths?
- The company's / team's greatest weaknesses? (If you can't answer this... you might have an issue)
- What need does your product or service fulfill?
- Does society need you?
- What creditability does your company / team have to offer?
- What personal information can hurt your professional team & image?
To me, the most important steps can be narrowed down to the 3P's: Planning, Process, & Prep - after all, the goal is to move the needle and work smarter, not harder. How do you expect your customers or target markets to know who you are if you don't?