“Twelve Pillars to Support Your Business Success”
Pillar 1 – Position
The Position of your business is reflected to those around you, both internally and externally. To assist you in determining the Position of your business, the following question needs to be asked:
What does your business reflect to your team members (internally) and to your customers and your suppliers (externally)?
Put simply, how is your business viewed by others?
Your Position will reflect your Why and your Values and ultimately determine your Vision, Mission, Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and Code of Conduct.
There are clearly many different Positions. Note: I am not referring to a particular business model in this section.
- To assist others
- To grow quickly
- First class customer service, always
- To be the most profitable in your market
- To always be better than our competitors
- To build an extraordinary team
Once your business’ Position has been established, it’s time to determine the other key components of your business profile.
The question of Why you are in business is a very interesting question when you start or reinvent a Small or Medium Business (SMB).
Understanding your Why is critical to the style and culture of your business. To give you an example:
When I started Altitude Business Development my Why was “I want to work for myself, I need to support my family, continued personal growth is important and I need something that uses my skills”.
However, after 8 years and a couple of reinventions of my business my Why has changed. I am very clear that my Why is now “I have the skills to assist others and I find that very personally satisfying”. Yes, I still need to earn a living but the satisfaction of helping others is my true Why.
Considering what your true Why is will assist you to create a business with a positive culture and purpose.
Here are some other Whys I have come across from others:
“To create a business that always provides top quality work to our clients”
“To be profitable enough to contribute $xxxx back to our community”
“To employ xxxx people from our community”
“To build a company to support the members of our family”
“To build an exceptional business that will be admired in our market”
“To have something to hand over to my children”
“Owning my own business has the potential to be very satisfying for me”
Following on from your Why is your Values. What you value in your life and your business will determine your Why and certainly assist in creating the culture and style of your company.
Being clear on your Values can take a little time and a good deal of thought – but please don’t take this challenge lightly:
The following Values of Altitude Business Development may help you develop your own Values.
Altitude Business Development Values
Authentic – We always offer proven, professional and well considered business solutions.
Integrity – We always deliver integrity to our clients and each other, despite possible negative reactions.
Honesty – We are always honest with clients and each other despite possible negative reactions.
Sustainability – We always seek to offer sustainable business solutions.
Respect – We always give respect to each other and to clients and expect respect in return.
Giving – We believe in giving in all forms to the community and each other.
Education – We adopt a culture of continued learning in all its forms.
Punctuality – It is disrespectful not to turn up on time. We are always punctual.
Success – Success is personal and comes in many forms. We celebrate our own success and that of others.
Fun – We encourage a fun and enjoyable work place and enjoy the company of others.
Vision and Mission can often be confused in the minds of business owners, so let’s be clear:
Your Vision is the overriding thing that you want your business to achieve. It may be almost unobtainable and it may be a long way into the future. It may sum up your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). Your Vision must certainly be something your team can be inspired by, something they can buy into and be proud of. Your Vision may or may not be something to be shared publically.
Your Mission will then be the things that your business does to assist in realising your Vision.
Personally, I like Visions that are simple and easily remembered by everyone in your team. A great vision will be the rallying cry for everyone in your business – the reason they come to work every day.
Here are a few great examples of Visions:
To Make People Happy – Disney
Crush Adidas – Nike in the 1960s
To be the world’s leading Consumer Company for automotive products and services – Ford
A PC in every home running Microsoft software – Microsoft
World abundance through business re-education – Action Coach
Fanatical Customer Service Always – Viking Office Products
To assist 1000s of clients to achieve outstanding business and life goals – Altitude Business Development
Your vision may also be based on geography by setting a goal of being the best at something in your area.
To make the best most delicious Hamburgers in Sydney.
We are the most sought after Real Estate agent in southern Sydney.
To be the most awarded accounting practice in NSW.
Your Vison should be a stretch and should enrol and inspire you and your team. Your Vision is just that, a Vision of where you want your business to go and what you want your business to deliver to its customers.
The challenge of getting your Vision right is not insignificant and the exercise is assisted by truly understanding your Why and your Values.
The process and outcomes of developing your Vision will assist you to:
- Break out of your current thinking.
- Identify direction and purpose.
- Alert stakeholders to needed change.
- Promote interest and commitment.
- Promote focus.
- Encourage openness to unique and creative solutions.
- Encourage and build confidence.
- Build loyalty through involvement (ownership).
- Result in efficiency and productivity.
As you develop your Vision, be aware of the Vison killers.
- Being stuck in tradition
- Being afraid of change
- Fear of ridicule
- Stereotypes of people, conditions and roles
- Complacency of stakeholders
- Fatigued leaders
- Short-term thinking
Give it a go, get started and you will be surprised by the clarity that a well-considered Vision will give your business.
Your Mission is the road map that shows how you will achieve your Vision. It is commonly made up of four parts:
- What business are you in
- Who you are as a team
- Who are your clients
- What makes you unique (See USP below)
Here is an example:
Company ABC – Always Delivers Sustainable Client Results
- ABC operates in the Enterprise IT sector.
- ABC only sells and recommends quality hardware and software that meets our clients’ needs.
- We work hard to first understand client needs.
- Our Team is selected on their ability to communicate and to understand client needs.
- Our Team is always expected to display empathy and first class service to our clients.
- ABC is focused on transport, professional services and manufacturing in the metropolitan area so we can visit client premises and work face to face.
- ABC will always take a holistic approach to our client IT requirements.
- We will educate ourselves and our clients with the latest technology.
- ABC is structured to benefit our team, our clients and the community.
- ABC always puts its reputation before profit.
When the points in the Mission statement are implemented consistently the ability to Always Delivers Sustainable Client Results as stated in their Vision is realised. The Vision and Mission are easily communicated to all stakeholders and there is no doubt as to what is required of the team members who work with ABC. In terms of leadership the owners of ABC have a clear direction in which to take their business.
Commonly, over time the Vision and Mission will evolve and it is certainly a worthwhile exercise to revisit these every two or three years.
Once the business has a clear direction to develop their strategic plans and goals, they will not embark on a direction that is at odds with their Vision and Mission. This is explored in detail in Pillar Two – Planning.
Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and Guarantee
What makes your business different, what makes it stand out from the crowd?
If you do not have a clear USP that can be communicated effectively to your target market it will be unclear what your business stands for. You will be lost in the crowd and severely restrict your profitability.
Developing a way to stand out in your market will give you a great advantage and it is never more important than in a market with many competitors.
Unique Selling Proposition (USP)is an area that is often written about but poorly executed in business. Most USPs are really just table stakes that someone else can match. This is OK as it can get you out in front, sometimes far enough to stay ahead. Domino’s Pizza did this with “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.” And FedEx with “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”.
One of the best is from “Bugs” Burger Bug Killers, Inc. They are a US company that puts its profits on the line with an incredible guarantee to back their uniqueness. They specialise in pest control for hotels and restaurants and charge up to 10 times what their competitors charge. Here’s their USP: If they don’t do their job they will pay back:
- a year’s service fees,
- the cost of another exterminator for 1 year,
- the guests’ bills,
- all fines and
- any lost profits if you get closed by health authorities.
- PLUS $5000!
What are YOU willing to guarantee? What will you hold yourself accountable for when dealing with your customers?
To help you get there here are a few more questions to ask yourself. Find the answers and you might just find your USP.
What are the frustrations people have with your industry?
How can you solve these? Maybe the trade’s person who is always on time? Or the retailer who is never out of stock of key products? The builder who guarantees to keep clients updated on progress every day? The IT Company who gives a fixed quote and stays until it’s fixed? The printer repair person who leaves a chocolate at every visit? The restaurant who guarantees to have a drink on your table within three minutes of you being seated or it’s free? The removalist who says “If we break it we fix it”?
What are the priorities that your ideal customer has when dealing with you?
Is it price, quality, being on time, speed of service, back up?
What are five reasons your customers come to you now rather than your competitors?
What are five things about your product or service that you take for granted, that your customers don’t know about?
What are five objections you keep hearing from prospects?
Answer these questions and you will be able to develop a USP and Guarantee that can help your business stand out from the crowd.
Code of Conduct (How we do things here)
The final section of the First Pillar is your “Code of Conduct”, “Rules of the Game” or “How We Do Things Here”. Regardless of what you call it, all companies, teams, organisations and families need rules to operate effectively.
Many businesses that I see employ team members and then expect these people to make up the rules as they go along. This is a recipe for inefficiency, unhappy team members, frustrated owners and managers, poor service and costly high team turnover.
Without rules how will team members know what is expected of them? How can they be managed without rules and benchmarks? It is much more efficient to manage and develop team members when it is clear what is expected of them and their colleagues.
Rules in a business, like the rules for a sporting code, are not meant to be restrictive. Your rules for your game should support the business to operate in a free flowing and efficient manner while ensuring you team is supporting the culture and direction of your business Vision.
Here is a guide of the issues that your “Rules of the Game” may include.
- Hours of Work
- Use of Mobile Phones/Personal Telephone Calls
- Internet Use
- Company Cars use
- Dress Code
- Telephone Manner
- Company Culture, teamwork, respect, etc.
- Business Expenses
- The Environment
- Open Plan Office Guidelines
- Termination of Employment
- Counselling and disciplinary processes
- Performance Reviews
- Smoking Policy
- Workplace Health and Safety
- Sexual Harassment and Discrimination
Pillar One is all about building a robust foundation for your business, creating a direction and a culture that can be understood and embraced by all stakeholders.
I like to think of it as the preparatory work you would complete before starting to build a new home. What is the design, the colour scheme, which builders will you use, what will it look like when it is finished and what statement will your new home make to you and others?
You would not build a home without taking the time to build a robust foundation and so it is with building or reinventing your business.
It is essential to start with building Pillar One – Position.