7 Stage Business Builder
Here is the programme that we have devised to help organisations that we are advising to achieve a greater understanding of their business. This process helps us to decide on the best strategy and actions to achieve growth.
The programme has been inspired from experiences gained through helping many businesses, charities and organisations to be more successful. Most recently we’ve been helping companies that are supported by Business Gateway in Central Scotland to develop their marketing strategy.
One of the biggest challenges for any business is to allow enough time away from the day to day issues to review their performance and see a bigger picture. This is where I am able to help, devising strategies and actions to improve focus and results.
If you look down the 7 stages broken down below you will see that strategy and actions are the last the two stages. To get there I have 20 questions that help me to identify the current situation and the potential ares for growth. This article covers the top line of this process and will hopefully be of use if you are planning putting this into operation yourself.
Let’s go through the 7 stages - hopefully they will get you thinking about your business and get you started on the building process.
Stage 1 - Purpose
If this is your own business, then why did you start it? I’m interested in both the personal and professional reasons. This is really to check that it is fulfilling the reason why the business was started. For example if you are running a small lifestyle business so that you can spend more time with your family, is that in reality being achieved? or is in reality the opposite true? Maybe you were compelled to start/run a business to improve a particular market or create a new product. Are you achieving that?
During this stage it is important to define your business vision (what you want to happen) and the mission (what you needs to be done to achieve that). These are not specific financial targets (don’t worry they are to come), It’s about charting the direction of travel. An example could be a cancer charity, their vision may be to see a world without cancer. Their mission (solution) is therefore to raise as much money as possible to invest into research for eradicating cancer.
Finally for this stage are values. The behaviours and actions that will define your business. You may want to be a business that people aspire to work for. Green credentials may be important to you, or helping local charities.
The answers to stage 1 help to shape the personality and character of a business. Later on in the process these are used to help define the brand and decide on targets and goals.
Stage 2 Market
Let’s begin to understand and review the market that you trade in. Who are your customers? You should delve as deep into demographics and lifestyles as is possible. Most important though is to define the problem(s) that you solve for your customers, or look at how your product or service improves their lives?
Then of course there are the competitors, who are they and how good are they? Drawing out this vital information will help to determine what is the current situation in your market. Talk to people, read on-line reviews, ask your customers.
Each market is different and you may be looking after a wide range of customers. It is very important though to have as much insight into the market as possible and understand what factors are driving interest and sales.
Stage 3 - Proposition
One of the most difficult things that you can ask any business owner or manager to do is to describe their business. In some ways they know it too well. The key is being able to break it down into a short and memorable description or pitch.
It is important for your business to have a clear point of difference in the market. Something that makes your product, experience or service stand out and relevant to your target customers. Ideally with a hook or element that cannot be copied or used by anyone else.
As well as coming up with all the answers to this, there is the opportunity to review the quality of the customer journey/experience and also to see whether there is any need or opportunity for the introduction of any new products or solutions.
Stage 4 - Brand
The appearance of the brand and any related design work, promotional material or packaging is vital. It obviously has to look good and consistent, as well as clearly explaining what it is and why it should be experienced. It is also important to consider the best channels for marketing and growing brand awareness. Finally and just as important to review is how welcoming the business is, especially to new customers.
Stage 5 - Numbers
Understanding business costs and setting effective pricing is very important, as obviously there needs to be a balance between having the right customer price point and there being enough margin to operate the business. So this is the stage to review all of the trading and transaction costs.
This is also the point where stretching but realistic goals and targets should be set. These should be monitored and reviewed constantly. When achieved they should be celebrated! It is amazing how many businesses don’t set financial targets and therefore aren’t able to objectively judge how they are performing.
Finally cash flow should be considered, especially if there is potential for this to cause a strain on the business.
Stage 6 - Strategy
Stages 1 to 5 have all been a journey of discovery to understand your values, brand, market, product etc. I have quickly outlined the areas to review, for me when face to face with the customer I use a series of 20 questions. The answers to which really determine both the current position and the aspirations for future growth.
This stage is about identifying the best way forward for the business. This is achieved with a simple statement that defines the strategy.
Once a business has a strategy this can be used as a test for everything. i.e. do the actions that we are considering fit with the strategy?
Stage 7 - Actions
So there is now a strategy. This final stage is all about bringing it to life. Stage 7 is about devising a list of the required actions that will achieve growth. Each one of those actions should be owned by someone who will be responsible to make it happen. Important to note for each one is a date that it should happen and a measure to record that it has happened successfully.
This is a brief outline of our 7 stage business builder. The programme represents a logical and common sense way to create a plan for growth. This system can be applied to any business, charity or organisation.
It is transformational to be in control of the strategy and direction of a business, rather than being pushed and pulled by the daily grind.
We really enjoy working with businesses of all shapes and sizes in Scotland to help them to grow. If you would like to find out more about getting our 7 Stage Business Builder programme for your business please call 01360 661029.
Based in Loch Lomond Paul Saunders Marketing works throughout Scotland providing marketing consultancy and digital creative media for businesses, charities and organisations of all sizes. Core services include Marketing Consultancy, Commercial Photography, Video Production, Websites, Aerial Filming, Social Media, Design & Branding and Events.