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Gather the facts and then use the DEAL WITH IT formula...
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Ask yourself these five vital questions.
1. What is the current situation?
Cover the following:
- What is my target market-place?
- What are the trends in the market I am targeting?
- What are the drivers of these trends? e.g. New Legislation, Economic Environment, Culture Change, New Technology, New Social Norms/Beliefs
- What are my potential customers wanting; how can I segment these customers by type of business and size of organisation, or age, sex, geography, background, employment etc.; i.e. individual consumers, what are their specific needs?
- Who is offering what right now to these potential customers address their challenges
- What success are they having and why?
- Where are they apparently not succeeding and why?
2. Looking forward, 12 months from now, what would be a preferred future situation for
Cover the following:
- What products, resources and physical materials will they be buying; how will they want to access /pay for these?
- What services, advice, and value added knowledge, insights and know how will they be acquiring; how will they want to access/pay for these?
- What would be a business model that would deliver to these needs including the pricing model, the features, characteristics, differentiators and of course benefits?
3. What therefore is the gap between the current and future situation which you will need to address?
Cover the following questions:
- What key external issues which you will need to be focussed on, e.g. demands of customers, rivalry between existing suppliers in the market, new entrants to the market, threat of new substitute products/processes coming into the market?
- What internal issues will you need to address e.g. people resourcing issues, premises, plant, equipment, machinery, IT systems and finance?
- How much time do you have to address these issues? Where will you need help?
4. What is the plan to address each key issue?
The plan should include:
- The vision for the business.
- Key objectives for the first 12 months, and following 12 months.
- The initial strategy e.g. a start-up and organic growth as a single enterprise (starting from scratch), partnering with others (employing the specialist skills of others as required), or acquiring an existing supplier (who has already built a business which largely meets the needs you have identified).
- The deployment and use of resources required when the resources will be required; when they will need to be paid for and how
• The structure required to organise the operation.
• The required culture/values; what will make your brand distinctive?
• The leadership and management of the business, by whom, and with what style.
5. What will be the evidence of success?
Cover the following measures:
- Numbers of clients
- Types of clients
- Product revenues
- Services revenues
- Client feedback and testimonials
- Growth of market-share and influence in the market-place
- Thought leadership displayed
- Reputation and market standing
- Directors' drawings/income
Before starting the above five step process carry out thorough research.
To address Steps One to Three it is a good idea to use a Focus Group to work through each of the questions and to prompt further research where there are knowledge gaps.
To draw up the Business Plan (Steps Four and Five) you will best achieve this using an external facilitator/mentor to help you address each issue and to formulate a plan.
There is of course a lot more to starting your own business, not least obtaining the necessary finance and seeking the best advice to do this, but get the above basics right and you should at least be well placed for a successful launch!
CEO Buy and Train