When creating a Business Strategy and a Business Plan you have to also do that “fluffy” stuff which includes our Purpose, Vision, Values and Convictions, as well as to identify our core niches (“Where We Play”) and our differentiating strategies (“We Will Win By”).
But there is always a but! I find that most businesses simply don’t have a strategy and at tops they will have a few ideas in their head or maybe a vision board type of reminder. After working with many businesses in this area, this is what I have learned during the process: You cannot overemphasis that “fluffy stuff.” You inevitably always have to come back to it. And possibly this is the most difficult part of the strategy to document. The diagram opposite serves as a guideline to direct your thought patterns of how to start.
Recently I went to a great presentation by Daniel Flynn, co-founder of ThankYou.TM and this again reminded me of the need to absolutely master your S.O.A.P., all aspects of it but in particular, your Purpose. Having a solid and crystal-clear Purpose that helps you navigate everything in your business including those many challenges that you will face along the way. Your business may be just you, for others you may have a team or ambitions to create one, in order to support your growth. So, what’s the challenge here? You got it, your core values, purpose etc needs to grow with your business so you as the leader need to spend even more time in that zone. If you are one of these leaders, then the following may help you in achieving this. Always check yourself on these three points, getting this right will allow you to develop a winning Culture in your business.
 Clarity: I have found that creating a strong Value system in a business is the pre-sequel to obtaining Clarity of Purpose. As an example, have you heard of Zappos? They are a major online shoe and clothing business established in 1999 and later bought out by Amazon. They have created an amazing business in a highly competitive market and in particular, have an extremely strong and unique culture. This video will give you a taste of the employee culture.
They have 10 core company values:
1. Deliver wow through service.
2. Embrace and drive change.
3. Create fun and a little weirdness.
4. Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded.
5. Pursue growth and learning.
6. Build open and honest relationships with communication.
7. Build a positive team and family spirit.
8. Do more with less.
9. Be passionate and determined.
10. Be humble.
Powerful stuff! If you are in the camp of “this is theoretical”, then don’t read on, if you are in the tell me more camp, then spend some time on Zappos website, in particular their About Us page. Would you like to have a Customer Obsessed Culture?
 Messaging: What is the message that you give to your employees? Do they give the same message to your customers? Is your boss the equivalent of Mr Burns (the evil, greedy, wealthy businessman in the Simpsons)? Or do they (you) lead from the front? Just like children who mimic their parents, the culture of any business is defined by the visible leaders. Lead by example! Employee by cultural fit to your Values & Purpose. The reality is most companies employ according to talent or technical skill. Once you take on a new employee, spend weeks to months, rather than hours in ensuring cultural fit.
Currently in New Zealand, finding top quality staff is a challenge and equally challenging is the process of exiting poor quality staff. The cost to a company of a “bad egg” in the team is enormous, so consider offering an incentive to any new staff member to exit the company early. The cost of an early exit incentive is likely to be way smaller than the “bad egg” cost that occurs over months of toxic performance.
 Consistency: As leaders of business, plus the formal training that many of you (including myself) will have experienced, I have found that at times the expectation on financial performance and money metrics become dominating factors, if you have a board, this is where they often tend to focus their attention.
Unless you have raving customers, who’s loyalty results in repeat business at preferred pricing, you are nothing but another average business. My encouragement is to place culture, based on customer excellency above the short term financial KPI’s. As leaders you need to walk the walk of your values and to ad nauseam, repeating your consistent message to all and sundry. Providing you have a well thought through business plan in place, the profits will result through having a great, highly focused and productive culture, this will support profitable growth of your business.
Summary: Creating a GREAT company comes from identifying and creating a GREAT strategy and Business Plan. Business is as complex or simple as you would like to perceive it, and there is no magic bullet to success. Success comes through dogged persistence, with the ability to weather the lows through a having a strong purpose and values system. Your end game is in creating an amazing culture that results in raving customer fans. The fastest route to get there, the route that costs the least in both time and money, is creating your S.O.A.P and a business plan, without these you will waste time in inefficiencies. Once you have moved out of the starting blocks, ie. you have a strategy and a business plan, 80% of your success will come from creating and sustaining that awesome, winning Culture within your business.
Boost your motivation juice, if you have not looked at any of the links in this post yet, then check out ThankYou.TM