The “Product” Component of a Successful Business
As I shared with you recently, I’ve been developing my Five Ps of Business Success philosophy into a model for a business operating system. The success of any business is affected by a variety of factors, not all of which are strictly financial – People, Product, Pricing, Process, and Planning. These components are integral to both your strategic plan and day-to-day operations.
In my last blog I discussed the “People” component of a successful business. Now we’ll take a look at “Product.”
What is “Product” – which may also be a service – exactly? Yes, it’s what you sell. But it’s much more. It’s the manifestation of your vision, the tangible result of what motivated you to start your business in the first place. It’s the solution to the problem that you’re in business to resolve – your contribution to making life better for your customers. An extension of who you are, it’s a representation of your “why.”
With that realization, it suddenly becomes apparent that clarity of vision is at the heart of your success. Without that clarity a business has no well-defined path. It likely expends time, energy and money that don’t contribute to its primary purpose, experiences struggles, and its People may flounder and experience frustration. Clearly defining who you really are, what you really want to do, and where you really want to go is liberating – it enables simplifying processes while empowering staff with focus and opportunities to excel.
In his book, Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, author Gino Wickman advocates creating a vision that is bigger than yourself and that “points the way to a greater good.” He offers eight questions that he says must be answered in order to create a strong vision for your organization.
- What are your core values? Wickman defines core values as “a small set of timeless guiding principles” and recommends limiting them to between three and seven. These core values define your company’s culture, what characterizes your People, and will help you attract those that are like-minded.
- What is your core focus? The basis for your core focus goes back to your why…. Why does your business exist? What is its purpose? What is its niche? Articulate the core focus of your business and operate so that nothing distracts you from it. It’s sometimes easy to get off track, chasing after a “shiny object” or trying something new even though it’s not a fit. When tempted to veer off course, remind yourself why you and your People show up each day.
- What is your 10-year target? Successful companies and individuals set and achieve goals. Define where you want your organization to be in a decade. This long-range vision gives your company direction and helps to define shorter-term objectives.
- What is your marketing strategy? Wickman points out that you can’t be all things to all people. You must identify your ideal customer, what you are supposed to do for them and how you’ll do it. This will be at the foundation of your marketing strategy. He recommends considering your own experiences, core values and core competencies when defining your ideal client.
- What is your three-year picture? Wickman contends that there’s little value in investing time and money into detailed strategic planning beyond a three year window because of the rapid pace of life, business and change. But, he points out that its value is in providing your People with a clear vision and direction, and as a tool for improving the one-year planning process.
- What is your one-year plan? Your one-year plan will define what you must do in the next 12 months to make your vision real. Wickman cautions against trying to accomplish too many objectives in too short a time, warning that this can result in setbacks and frustration. Ensure that your plan is attainable. It’s better to check fewer things off your list but know they’ve been done right and that you’re on track to keep moving forward.
- What are your quarterly Rocks? Wickman recommends setting priorities each quarter, based on your one-year plan. He refers to these priorities as “Rocks.” These are imperatives that must be accomplished to keep you on track to achieve the objectives of your one-year plan, with your three-year picture in mind. These “Rocks” give you traction and enable productivity by providing focus and specific direction.
- What are your issues? Although it may seem strange to include a list of problems as part of your vision, this practice is actually very valuable. Every person and business has issues; success is impacted by the ability to resolve them. Embrace those obstacles and document them. Once they are acknowledged you’ll start to find ways to resolve and get ahead of them rather than allowing yourself to be blind-sided.
As noted, your product or service is the tangible manifestation or expression of your vision. Once you’ve created or clarified your vision, assess or reassess your product. Ask and answer these questions that are specific to your actual product or service:
- How is your product positioned?
- What is the size of your market?
- Do you know your production capacity?
- Do you have the right key performance indicators in place?
- Do you have proof of concept – have you sold sufficient quantities to your market?
As the former owner of a multi-million dollar company, I’m a CFO with a CEO perspective, which provides me with a unique understanding of the Five Ps of Business Success and how each contributes to a company’s overall performance. I’d welcome the opportunity to help you find the freedom and empowerment that clarifying your vision affords.