Determine Your Mission

A key part of strategic planning is to know why you are doing what you are doing. What is your mission for being in business? What kind of a difference do you want to make in your customers’ lives? Every successful business is built around a central purpose or mission. And the very best mission is always to help people improve their lives in some way.

  • How would you describe your mission in this respect?
  • What does your customer consider value?
  • What does your customer actually buy?
  • What is your customer seeking that he or she does not have already clear?
  • Can you be about the value you are bringing to the life or work of your customer? The easier it is for you to design all of your marketing and sales activities.
  • Where do you excel?
  • What is your area of excellence? What is your competitive advantage?
  • What do you do better than anyone else that your customer is willing to pay you for?

Every product or service offering must have one or more areas of excellence that enable it to stand out from any other competitive offerings in the marketplace. What are yours? Who else is competing for the attention and the dollars of your customer? Who else is selling something that your customers could just as easily buy rather than buy from you? Your ability to clearly identify your competition determines everything you do in building your own successful business. Not long ago, I worked with a Caribbean cruise line. They do not define their competition as other cruise ships. They define their competition as anyone who is accustomed to taking a land-based vacation anywhere in the world. Since only five percent of people have been on a cruise, they aim all of their marketing and sales efforts at the 95 percent of people who have not yet taken a cruise. They have determined that their competition is anyway a person could spend money on any kind of vacation, including staying at home that does not involve a cruise on one of their ships. So who or what is your competition for your customers?

  • Why does your customer buy from your competition?
  • What benefits or advantages does your customer see in buying from your competitors rather than from you?
  • What do you have to do to convince your customer to change from their current supplier of products or services similar to yours and switch to your ability to convey the meaningful differentiation between what you sell and what your competitors sell?
  • It is central to your success. So how is your product or service different or better?
  • Why should someone buy from you?
  • Your ability to list several reasons why an intelligent customer should buy your product or service in a competitive market is central to your sales and marketing efforts. Your ability to ask the question Why should someone buy from me will largely determine your success or failure in business?

Write out several reasons why someone should buy from you. Share these reasons with other people in your family or business and ask their opinions. Then focus on the one or two advantages in buying from you and what either company or individual can offer. This difference then becomes the focal point of all your promotional efforts. Your ability to convey these ideas into the hearts and minds of your customers will largely determine how much you sell and how fast you grow.

Develop a complete business plan before starting. This is one of the most difficult and yet one of the most important processes if you want to start and build a successful business. Many successful entrepreneurs take weeks and even months to develop their business plans before launching their enterprises. Fortunately, you can sign up for the Building A Business Plan Course or purchase software that will help you put a business plan together far more easily than my hand, and you must do it yourself. You cannot get someone else to develop a business plan for you. This would be the same as getting someone else to select a husband or wife for you without involving you. The major benefit of a business plan is that it forces you to think through every business element in advance. A business plan is quite simple. It requires that you project exactly how much of what product or service you will sell each month and each year for the next 12 to 18 months. You then calculate the total cost of producing and delivering these products and services. You determine everything you will need real estate facilities, equipment, advertising, staff, furniture, and so forth to bring these products or services to the market. You calculate how much money you will need and where you will get that money. Finally, you project how much profit you\’re going to make and when you will make it.

But be realistic about your business. Here are two rules that could save your business life. First, everything costs twice as much as you think it will. Second, everything takes three times as long as you estimate. This means that if your budget for an activity is $10,000, it will probably end up costing you $20,000 or more. If you expect to break even in three months will probably not break even before nine months, maybe even later.