Are You Certain You Understand Your Business?

It’s Your Vision!

You have a business, or want to start a business, congratulations.  I wonder if you understand your business though.  I bet you are an expert at the product/solution you plan to provide.  But do you truly understand your business?  Every book, article, blog you read or TED talk, seminar, webinar you view/attend on the subject of making your business a success you hear the same thing: “Every business must have a vision.  Everything flows from a business’ vision and must support it’s vision.  The vision is the basic reason your business exists.”  Yet it truly amazes me how many small business/start-up entrepreneurs that I meet with who cannot articulate their business vision or market “why?”.  Do you have a vision for your business?

Many have what they call are visions for their business, their elevator pitch.  But what they tell me is a statement of what they plan to provide or do.  “MyGreatestCompanyInTheWorld is going to solve the world’s problems and be the cheapest, most efficient and customer oriented one doing it”.  OK, you may not be so bold in your vision statement, but my bet is that it follows that pattern in some form.  That’s not a true vision.

A vision is a statement or outline of a problem in the market place somewhere that is seeking a solution.  It is the reason someone will pull money out of their pockets and give it to your business.  It is the only reason you are in business.  As far as I know most for profit businesses are ultimately in the same business:  collecting cash and putting it into a bank account while having more left in the bank then they owe.  If you think someone is going to pull money out of their pocket just because you plan to make the world better, you better be a non-profit looking for donations.  If you think they will pay you just because you tell them you are better or easier or faster or cheaper than all of the rest, well good luck with that.  There is a good reason tat 80% of small businesses fail in the first 5 years, and not understanding something as basic as their vision is one of them.  It causes you to go off course and not realize when you need to make a correction.

Others, and perhaps worse, have nailed a vision for their business but it’s the wrong vision.  One recent pitch I heard spoke of solving a huge hassle for patients of certain types of doctors.  It’s an awesome solution.  Yet after research (pivots) they determined that the customers won’t pay, and the doctors don’t want to pay either.  The one’s most interested in paying for them to provide their solution to those patients are the companies that provide the products involved and the medications/products that are related to those products and the patient problem being addressed.  It is an advertising application.  Their vision is to solve the problem for the patient.  That was later changed to solving the problem for the doctors and patients.  But if the ones paying are the Big Pharma companies, and they are paying out of their marketing budgets, shouldn’t the vision of the company involve the problem they are solving for Big Pharma?  Shouldn’t it revolve around their marketing efforts?

You see, the vision in the second example is really a marketing campaign, not what they need to build the structure of the business around.  The structure must be built around a vision that meets a real market need and must be based on those in that market that will pay you for your product/solution.  They nailed the first half of that statement, but failed at the second half.

Your mission then is a statement on exactly how “MyGreatestCompanyInTheWorld” is going to directly solve the problem identified in the vision.  Together they are your elevator speech…they why and how.  If you want to get real fancy, try adding a statement on your personal “why” for getting into your business.  The three together are powerful marketing, and the base of every great business plan.  Without such a base, at best you are drifting in the wind without a sail.  It works fine for a while, but…….don’t be the 80%.

Mitchell Bolnick – The Excel Consulting Group