How to get visible and get ahead in the marketplace
Many times when we think about Google, Microsoft, Intel, Wal-Mart, Apple and many other companies, we think about them as simply huge businesses and global brands. Have you ever stopped to think about where they came from, and how they got there?
Granted, each business has its own, unique, story. However, the common thread is that they started out as very small companies and worked their butts off to build something that changed the way the marketplace works. They didn’t start with tons of money, but were focused to build a product or prototype and take steps to continue to develop and grow their offerings and their business.
The way that businesses successfully do this is by creating and following a strategic plan.The purpose of the plan is to demonstrate how your company can successfully navigate the business-scape to become successful. Think about it: when Wal-Mart started, there were millions of retailers. Sam Walton saw an opportunity to offer low-cost items in areas where people didn’t have a ton of money to spend. Then he figured out how to cut his operating costs. Then the cost to source items, etc.. We see the results of his work.
Get out of the Bubble: One of the most important things about strategy is that it cannot be done in a bubble, or only looking from within the company. It requires that you take a look outside the window – at competitors, the industry, the marketplace and trends. Essentially, you want to look at everything that can impact your business, how it can impact your business, and what, if anything, you can do about it.
Reality Check: Your reality check speaks to two things: what can you do and what can you not do. The caveat is that you would be amazed by what you can accomplish when you don’t know what you can’t do. To hear John F. Kennedy say that the United States was going to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade seemed as far-fetched as being able to connect nearly everyone on the planet wirelessly. Consider all of what had to be overcome in order to achieve either feat.
Think about it like this: many people tell themselves lies about what they can and cannot accomplish. If there is something that you don’t believe, find proof for why it can’t be true.
Squishy Plan: The interesting thing about water is that it will always find a way. If you think about a crack in a dam, it is water that is coming out of that damn. At the beach, when you build a sand castle near the water, no matter how big you build your walls, if there is a place for the water to enter, it will.
The idea of the squishy plan is that it makes a way; if it is too structured, it will break down. If it is too liquid, it can become fragmented. A squishy plan is one that is agile, yet cohesive. Like water, it will find a way, but will not become diluted and fragment. It talks in terms of goals and objectives rather than what color sweaters and jeans, for instance.
As you know, in business, as soon as you understand the situation, the situation changes. Many business leaders offer that because the marketplace constantly changes, there is no point in developing a strategy. While that is a strategy in and of itself, there are more components to this. Think about driving, especially some place you don’t know how to get to. Do you avoid looking at a map (GPS) because you might not get there? Do you just jump in the car and hope for the best?
No – you grab your map or your device, you figure out where you want to go and you get going. Your business is no different. You essentially have a squishy plan.
Execute!: “The plans of mice and men…” fail if you plan but don’t execute. Execute with full knowledge that things will change. That change is dependent on a lot of factors – including your competitors, industry, market, public policy, etc. – most of which you cannot change, but some of which you can predict. What is important is to keep you head up, so you can be proactive and ideally react to changes so that you can make the necessary changes in your plan.
To stay on course with your plan, you want to set up metrics – specific, measurable indicators that say that you are moving closer to achieving your goals. That might look like cost or revenue numbers, number of clients/calls/prospects, time in production, inventory turnover, return on equity/investment/assets, marketing/branding activities, conversion, etc..
Getting visible in the marketplace doesn’t happen by accident. Regardless of the size or age or location of your business, in order to serve the needs of your audiences, they need to know that you exist and why your business is the ideal choice to meet their needs. Duplicating what everyone else is doing will probably get you the same results everyone else is getting. Striking out on your own and taking a strategic approach will lead to your company becoming extraordinary.
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Atlanta, Georgia based Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We help business leaders DESIGN | CREATE | BUILD extraordinary businesses. We support our clients with financial management, product and service production and delivery, outsourced services management, sales & marketing and business growth. We provide them with a number of flexible solutions to help them reach their goals.
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