Take 5 Minutes to See Your Business in a Whole New Way
My favorite advertisements often run at night, way past the time I should be sleeping. They usually go something like this:
“Start your own T-Shirt Factory! Our amazing automated process and outsourced, sweatshop labor-force can be working for you in minutes! It’s so EASY to run your business, that you’ll be just waiting for the checks to arrive!!!”
That final comment is usually with some happy person in a bathrobe opening a mailbox filled with cash, before cutting to the “CALL NOW – START YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!” screen.
I like them mostly since they are so ridiculously silly, though most people, even some business owners, think that somehow that’s what business success looks like. It’s the idea that if you work hard for a couple months, a couple years, that somehow it should be easy.
At any level, running a business is never easy. It’s work, and often difficult work. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a series of simple but effective ways to think about your business:
- Draw a horizontal line across a blank sheet of paper.
- On the left-side write “technical know-how”, and on the right-side write “Image”. This is your Business Line.
- Now, divide the Business Line by a second, perpendicular line.
- On the top, write External. On the bottom, write Internal. This is your Communication Line.
Ok, the tough part is over. We’ve divided your business into four areas, based on an Operational Communication paradigm (a fancy term for how your business talks to itself and others). Now let’s look at how these sections need to work together.
The bottom-right corner is your company’s set-up. This is everything from its Corporate Structure, Employee policies to its growth strategies and overall financial Plan. We call it the Internal Brand.
The goal of the Internal Brand is:
to structure the organization and develop the culture to best be able to function in the marketplace for optimal profits.
The bottom-left corner is “what your company does to make money”. This is manufacturing, creative development, fundraising or basket-weaving department. We call it the Process.
The goal of the Process is:
to provide products or services as cost-effectively and at the highest quality as possible.
The upper-left corner is your interaction with your current customers. This is your customer service, your quality control and support division. We call it your Commitment.
The goal of the Commitment is:
to ensure that your EXISTING CUSTOMERS return for more business or refer you to other potential clients.
Finally, the upper-right corner is the dialogue between your company and the outside world. This is your sales, marketing and public relations departments. We call this your Public Image.
The goal of the Public Image is:
to ensure that you are communicating consistently with those individuals and groups that need and value your services.
That’s it. Sure, there is more. There is always more. But, when it comes to essentials, a company needs to accomplish these four Core Focuses to be successful. For the rest of this month, we’ll look at each Focus and determine what concrete actions you can do to improve your company’s progress on these.