When the economy takes a nosedive, you may discover that your wildly popular cafe transforms into a lonely hole in the wall. If your brilliant app gets knocked off the app store’s featured list because fans have moved on to the next best thing, your startup will feel the loss financially. And if your competition decides to drastically undercut your prices, there’s not much you can do to change their game plan.
These are all external factors that exercise a profound influence on the success of your business, and you have little control over any of them.
That’s why it’s critical to capitalize on the internal factors that affect your business, increasing efficiency and productivity while maintaining – or better yet improving – the quality of your services or products.
But where do you begin?
Identify your business’ values
The most successful people in the world are those who have clearly defined values that guide their decision-making. For some people, generosity is a priority. For others, innovation is a guiding principle.
Businesses, likewise, perform better when all stakeholders share a set of core values. By making these values explicit and part of every conversation and action, everyone involved in your business will know what’s expected of them.
Clear values provide a sturdy foundation for goals, which facilitates decision making and collaborative efforts. For example, if your ed tech firm values social justice, purchasing parts made in sweatshops won’t even be a consideration.
Adopt a mission statement
Once you’ve determined your business’ core values, it’s time to adopt a mission statement that clarifies what it is that your business does. This mission statement should be short and simple enough to provide a directive for employees and a frame of reference for customers.
Our social justice-minded ed tech firm may adopt the mission statement:
To build affordable, sustainable technologies that provide educational opportunities for all people.
From this one statement, we know what the firm is committed to as well as what they’re building.
Create a vision
Your business vision is aspirational. Where do you hope to be in five years? Do you want to grow your business and go global? Or would you rather keep it smaller, working at a local level? Do you hope to have a full staff, or would you rather continue outsourcing? Do you plan to make all of your competitors obsolete? Or do you have designs to work collaboratively with others in your field? Imagine where you’d like your business to be in five years, and you’ll have an easier time getting there.
Your vision should also align with your mission and your values. For example, our model ed tech firm vision statement may look something like this:
In five years, our firm will open an additional office in Detroit. We will hire from the local workforce at competitive rates and provide professional development to help employees increase their skill set and earning potential.
While this vision statement may seem overly optimistic to some, the firm has given themselves ample time to work towards a business culture that they can take pride in. The time limit imposes restrictions that create momentum and divergent thinking, and the cohesiveness of the vision and values will ignite stakeholders and customers alike to take action.
Set actionable goals
The goals you set should be actionable and attainable, specific and measurable, and most importantly, they should be aligned with your values, mission statement, and vision. Once you establish your mission and vision statements, your goals should follow logically.
What goals will empower our ed tech firm set to build affordable, sustainable technologies that provide educational opportunities for all people?
First and foremost would be to define and streamline business processes, and this is a natural place to start for any business at all. No matter what your mission or aspirations, efficient processes mean greater productivity, and greater productivity and efficiency means greater value for your customers.
Other goals may be:
- Increase income by 30%
- Build connections with Detroit-area schools
Analyze business processes
It’s not uncommon for business processes to evolve organically, especially in emerging industries with no standard practices in place. However, organic processes aren’t always efficient or even productive.
It’s a good idea to look at your business processes with fresh eyes after you’ve established values and goals. First, look closely at how your business operates following tasks through yourself, from beginning to end, and noting the steps. You’ll probably find unnecessary steps along the way that you can eliminate to make to improve your internal operations. You might also realize that some processes could be streamlined further by adopting or building new tools.
Once your processes are lean and understood by everyone in your business, they’ll become second nature, giving you more room to grow.
Combat external threats with internal systems
Taking the time to get your house in order is powerful insurance against external hazards, and it will improve confidence in your business’ long-term successes. That security will improve the culture of your business while rallying advocates for your business.
However, turning the spotlight inward can be intimidating. I developed the Business Design Roadmap to help business owners master the internal and external factors that contribute to sustainable success. Let’s travel the road together.