3 Steps to Success: Step 1

Posted on 10/10/12 No Comments

This is the first of a three part series on how to most effectively achieve success in business and in any endeavor.  Before we go on, I will acknowledge that many people and most businesses do not follow these three simple steps.  That is why they fail altogether or at least fail to reach their full potential.  The simple truth is that unless you follow these three simple steps, you will never know the full measure of your success:

  1. Start with a clearly defined goal
  2. Develop a comprehensive strategy to achieve that goal and
  3. Systematically execute the strategy

Sounds familiar right?  We joke about ‘Ready. Fire. Aim.’ – because we know that it makes no sense to take action before knowing what that action will be.  Yet, so many people and, again, so many businesses, start off each day with no clear goal (other than maybe to get through the day). Over the years, they pride themselves on being able to overcome unforeseen obstacles and adversities (rather than anticipating and avoiding those obstacles and adversities).  For the most part, they are just satisfied with having survived another day (rather than rejoicing in having achieved their objectives).

One of my favorite quips is that there are three kinds of people:

  1. Those who make things happen
  2. Those who watch things happen
  3. Those who wonder – ‘what happened?’

On the personal, individual side, it really doesn’t matter which of the three describes you.  If you want to wander through life aimlessly and simply accept whatever life gives you, then it is your life and no one has a right to criticize, question or judge you.  If you are running a business, however, such an approach is irresponsible (you have a fiduciary responsibility to your investors, your employees and your dependents to be as successful as possible) if not dangerous (you could lose everything).

So let me help you.  It really isn’t that difficult.  In fact, I am always the first to say that running a successful business is not rocket science. In truth, many aspects of running a successful business are mostly common sense; they are just not common practice. So I develop business systems and processes to turn common sense into common practice.  Let’s take a look at a systematic approach to making your business more successful and your personal life more fulfilling.

Step 1 – Goals

In every endeavor, business or personal, start with the three most important words for success – “What’s the Goal?” If you don’t know what the goal is, how will you achieve it? Clarification of the goal is essential to the execution of the strategy to achieve it.  And, as we will see, every endeavor is simply a series of goals broken down into smaller and smaller goals.

The primary goal of any organization is its MISSION. It is the reason the entity exists. It is the WHY.  This is where we will focus today – on the primary goal of a company.  In the next article we will focus on strategy.  The strategy for a company is derived from the VISION.  The VISION is the second goal of any organization.  It tells us where our MISSION will take us.  It defines WHAT we will do in order to accomplish our MISSION.  Thus, in a business without a clear MISSION, the direction and production of the entire workforce will be inefficient. So let’s start with our MISSION.

Developing Your Mission Statement

Here are the steps I take to assist my clients with clarifying the MISSION of their company. You can apply this approach to any company and pretty much any aspect of your life.

  1. Belief Statement
  2. Brand Identity
  3. Unique Selling Proposition
  4. Marketing Message
  5. Mission Statement

Although very few people realize it, and many companies succeed despite the fact that they don’t even have one, the foundation of every business mission is the Belief Statement. As Simon Sinek so succinctly puts it, ‘People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.” Thus, your ultimate success is contingent upon whether or not people buy into your MISSION.  And your MISSION comes from your Belief Statement.

Your Belief Statement

Your Belief Statement is the absolute core of your entire business.  There are exercises that I give my clients to assist them to develop their Belief Statement but that is beyond the scope of this article.  There is plenty to be gained by seeing the result.

Using Apple as an example, their marketing message might be:

We make great computers. They are beautifully designed, simple to use and consumer friendly. Want to buy one?

If they did that, they would have communicated WHAT they do.  But here’s how that is communicated starting with WHY:

In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and consumer friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?

All that we have done is reverse the order in which the information is presented. People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.  So, to develop your Belief Statement, simply use the foregoing as a guide and describe WHY you are in business.

Now that you have your Belief Statement clarified, it is time to tie it to your Brand.

Brand Identity

Your brand simply needs to represent your belief. Following along with our example of Apple, the Apple brand stands for technological innovation. It is not merely a computer or telephone device company; it represents technological innovation delivered through computers and telephone devices.  Devout Apple users buy technological innovation.

What is your Brand Identity? What do you stand for?  When people see your company name or logo, how do they associate with it?

The Kinney Group, for instance, is all about systematic success.  People who believe you should have a plan before taking action and then systematically executing that plan are comfortable with my approach and do business with us.  People who do not want to be held accountable, who prefer to fly by the seat of their pants, are very uncomfortable with my approach.  I will never be able to convince them and I do not try.

Thus, your brand identity also helps in determining your target market.  Once you know who you want to target, you need to convey to them why they want to do business with you.  You need to capture their attention.

What Makes You Unique?

Very closely aligned with your brand Identity is your unique selling proposition (USP). Do people line up for days for the newest Apple product because of the price? No. They line up because they want to be the first to own a new piece of technology.

Maybe your USP, however, is price. Or, maybe like Nordstrom’s, your USP is customer service. Or maybe it is convenience.  Ours is execution.  We don’t simply offer strategic advice; we work alongside our clients and execute the strategy.  The list can be relatively long but there will always be one common factor: the USP must strike an emotional chord in your prospect. As everyone knows, people buy on emotion and justify purchases based upon logic. Your USP is the emotional reason people buy your product or service.

Now Tell the World

Okay, now you know WHY you went into business (MISSION).  You know what inspired you to develop your business (BELIEF). You know how you want your company to be perceived (BRAND). You know what makes you unique (USP).  Now it’s time to put them all together and tell the world! (MARKETING MESSAGE)

You will develop a multitude of marketing messages depending upon the venue or medium.  And you gain greater credibility with the more different mediums you use (people simply give more credibility to something they see or hear from multiple sources).

And, depending upon the mediums chosen, you will have to reword and reformat your message in a variety of ways.  A tweet is limited to 140 characters.  A billboard will most likely have even less. A radio ad is nothing but words.  A television or Internet commercial is going to have a lot more words (or not) but also have imagery.  In all instances, your marketing message is going to be more consistent, and therefore more effective, if the underlying message is the same – based upon your MISSION.

Your Mission Statement

And finally, your MISSION statement is an outward facing message that is carved in stone.  Sometimes you see the mission statement on a placard in an office.  Usually you will see it on a website.  And, in the best case scenario, whether you see it or not, the MISSION is conveyed through the actions, words and manner or your employees.  Just remember, your MISSION is WHY you are in business.

As you develop your MISSION statement, keep in mind that you are taking the emotional component of WHY people want to purchase your product or service and making a pledge that you will fulfill that desire they are seeking. If, for instance, your USP is price your MISSION statement may read as “Our MISSION is to provide our customers with the lowest price possible on the products they need most in life.”

In Summary

When you systematically build your business, starting with a strong foundation based upon a clearly defined MISSION, you will be consistent.  All of the foregoing elements may evolve – at least in the way you express them – but you won’t find yourself going in multiple directions, constantly re-inventing the wheel or wasting time starting over and over again if you start with a clearly defined MISSION.

The old adage ‘time is money’ is a truism.  In business, and in life itself, you only have so much time.  If you are making a sale, you will only have so much time to capture the attention of your prospective client or customer.  If you are raising capital, you will only have so much time to capture the attention of your prospective funding source.  And even if you have already raised capital, you will only have so much time to satisfy the objectives of your investors (even Microsoft has to show consistent growth in order to maintain or increase the value of its stock).  In every instance you must efficiently develop, refine, produce, market, sell, distribute and collect on the sales of your product or service.  And the most efficient way to achieve all of the foregoing is through the systematic execution of your strategy.  And that is where we will leave off today.

As stated previously, your MISSION is your reason for being in business.  In the next installment, we will address where your MISSION will take you (VISION). From your VISION we will be able to develop your strategy.  So get started on developing and refining your MISSION.  It is the foundation for your success!

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