Critical Questions to ask yourself as you create your Business Plan
Let’s begin by asking a very simple question: Why does your business exist?
As you prepare for growth in 2015 this could be the most powerful question you ask yourself. Far too often, businesses can become caught in a trap of trying to be operationally excellent while forgetting about why they are in business and why they actually exist.
Below, I have highlighted four key areas that all revolve around that one simple yet powerful question:
1 What is truly meaningful to your customers?
2 How will you find, keep and grow the right team members?
3 How will you find, keep and grow the right customers?
4 Why are you a customer of the businesses you shop with?
1) What is truly meaningful to your customers… What are your UMSP’s? (Unique Meaningful Selling Points)
Running an efficient and streamlined business is one thing, understanding why you will win in the marketplace is something different altogether, this is strategy versus operational excellence.
No one has the exact answer as to what the perfect strategy is for your business. However, it’s important that you have a compelling reason as to why you’re strategy stacks up, why it will be successful and why it will attract the right number and type of customers.
The term ‘USP’ or Unique Selling Point or Proposition was first coined back in the 1940’s by Rosser Reeves. However, I believe this term needs to be extended to UMSP ( Unique Meaningful Selling Point) making sure that your USP is not just unique, but also has sufficient meaning to appeal to your target market.
A good starting point is to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is our core and one major unique meaningful selling proposition?
- How is it meaningful?
- Why is there a market for it?
- How do we operationally structure ourselves to ensure we deliver on that promise?
2) How will you find, keep and grow the right team members?
Be very clear on the type of team members you want to employ (their attitude, mindset and overall fit within your company) before you start to recruit. Ensure they are clear on what your business stands for and why your customers shop with you. Then empower them to deliver that message to your customers.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What is the right type team member for our business?
- What are the things we will not compromise on when hiring new team members?
- What is the system we have in place to find the right team members?
- What are the critical things they need to BE our brand, to truly represent who we are?
- How do we empower them?
3) How will you find, keep and grow the right customers?
Firstly, how to find the right customers?
- What is our social and online strategy to find and attract the right customers?
- How will we create a unique experience for them as they interact with our brand?
- Which offline marketing strategies are still essential for us in this new social age?
- Are we 100% clear on what our core messages?
Next, how to keep and grow the right customers?
Having the ability to capture and analyse what is referred to as ‘Big Data’ these days is a much talked about topic. Regardless of your level of sophistication , your business will need to capture data and information in order for you to analyse and interpret how your plan is going and any trends in your customer base.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What will our customer experience be like?
- As they interact with our brand, in-store or online, why and how will that experience be unique?
- Why will they want to come back?
- How much of their experience is based on pure customer service?
- How much of it is driven by specific product and offer type strategies?
- How will we know who the right customer for our business is?
- How will your customer know that your business is right for them?
- How clear are we regarding what type of data is important to our business?
- What do we need to look for in that data to help us make sound decisions?
4) Why are you a customer of the businesses you shop with?
Sometimes the simplest of questions and approaches can yield amazing results and insights.
At the end of the day, your business is one big system designed to fulfil your customers’ needs and wants. Step outside of your business for a moment and become a customer for a while and ask yourself these questions:
- What are my favourite business to shop with and why?
- How many people do I know who I can ask these same two questions of?
- Based on these answers, what insights can I gain about what’s important to our customers, in other words, what are the critically important factors we have to make sure we always excel at?
- Have we done everything we can to make sure our team absolutely gets why we exist?
Enjoy growing and improving your business, and remember, we’re all customers of someone’s business – hopefully yours!
Eric J. Gregory is the Author of ‘Would you like Profits with that?’ and the founder of
Gregory Business & Trades Coaching which specialises in working with SME
business owners and entrepreneurs. For more information about Eric and his company
Please see www.gregorybusinesscoaching.com.au