Having clarity is critical to business success. You have to have a clear vision of where you want to go, a clear view of what you sell, and a clear path for getting there.
It’s been said that business plans tell you where you want to end up but not how you are going to get there. That’s exactly my point. We need to drill down and get real clarity about our businesses if we are going to actually achieve our goals.
I am in the process of reading Mike Michalowicz’s book The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. In this book Mike says, “Narrow your focus on the best products and services you have to offer. Make those few things extraordinary. Focus on and exploit your strengths.” Right on!
Mike is saying that you can’t start out trying to be all things to all people. As a matter of fact, he says that in this same chapter. It reminded me of an article I wrote for Small Biz Trends a year or so ago,˜Start Out Simply,” where I stated, “Set yourself up for success by starting out simply. Focus on the thing you do best and market that product or service to that target market. Build your business from the foundation of your core competency.”
This is one aspect of clarity. Choosing to focus on the one thing that you do best helps you define your marketing message as well as your target market. It makes it easier to grow your business. You can always add other products and services down the road that go along with your core business. You will have established your company as a leader and can add in other items gradually–items that make sense.
Before you can determine the product or service, however, you have to know what your vision is.H What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to provide for others? Where do you want to go? Once again, having clarity will help you take the next steps of defining what you will offer and how you will proceed toward your goals.
Lastly, you should have clarity about how you are going to get there. Visions are big things and can be overwhelming when taken as a whole. So break it down into smaller, manageable pieces. I like to work backward from the goal to identify the steps I’ll have to take to get there.
Then once you have the plan, insert monitoring “temperature checks.” There are few things worse than starting out, never checking on your progress and later realizing you aren’t going to get where you wanted to go. We all need mile markers to make sure we are moving in the right direction. It is this planning and monitoring that will keep you from getting derailed by the issues that can arise on a daily basis.
The value of clarity can not be overstated. When you have clarity about your vision, product/service and path you will be able to see everything else clearly. It will be easier to stay on track and easier to speak about your company. In the end, you will realize your vision and the success you seek.
Interesting article. Mike’s book is excellent, and he gets straight to the central purpose of being an entrepreneur. A fancy business plan is just a collection of guesses. I’m not sure that a path can be imagined beforehand with any realistic accuracy; only through action (and most likely, small failures) can you really understand what your product/idea is up against. This can be tracked through the ‘temperature checks’ you mentioned at the end of the article.
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Stephen Eugene Adams
The counter argument to this is that your vision has to be wide enough to have a market big enough to make a profit. As markets shrink or products become obsolete, many businesses widen their vision. In our case, printing is expanding into marketing and communications which covers many more things and is more complicated. A simple vision is great if the market can support it.
I couldn’t agree more with your post and especially the quote you chose from Mike:
Great points. Stephen I agree about the size of the target market. As a matter of fact I just conducted a webinar where we talked about shrinking or saturated target markets. There are times when you have to expand your vision. Mike does talk about that in his book and I talk about it in my workshops.
What I suggest is that people start with one target market so they can focus and measure. When they see that they have saturated that market, or that it is shrinking, they can branch out to other targets – either for the same product/service or for a tweaked version.
Nice post, and I’m choosing to focus on the “focus” part of your post.
I can relate!
The Franchise King
Thanks Joel. Stay focused!
I totally agree with you about clarity. Many startup make the mistake of getting too excited getting their products launch – without clearly defining their brand, values, and goals. This is a major No-No when you want to build your reputation on the Web. I couldn’t agree with you more on that one.
Is this the same ideas as Jason Fried’s idea along the lines “cut it in half and then cut it again”?
Diane: This post will give me fuel for my new startup venture that we first will start online and then expand to physical locations later on. I will link to it on my Ego Sole Trader site.
To joke a bit, what’s “H”?! 😉
“you have to know what your vision is.H”
So glad this is helpful. That ‘H’ is hmmmm – random! I never saw that! What could it stand for? helpful, happiness, heart? How odd. Thanks for pointing it out. Time to check the original doc.
It’s a good point, Diane. I just read about a guy who makes a good, full-time living selling a single ebook on diet and nutrition. My take away was that this is a person who understands his market, his specific niche in that market, and the single (I’m sure, very good) product he needs to provide to exploit that niche. It’s a great lesson in the value of laser focus.
That IS a great example! Thanks for sharing it.