Hi, I'm Greg. Who are you?
Most people struggle for much of their life to learn how to define themselves; your business needs definition long before it draws its first breath.
At the start of any engagement, the first question that I’m going to ask is “What is the ‘why’ of your brand?” And you should be able to answer that with a concise, one or two sentence statement that sums up your raison d’etre and what you promise your customers that sets you apart from your competitors. If you can’t succinctly explain why you’re here, how are your customers going to perceive you?
Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, had a clear statement of promise to his audience, which also served as the guiding principals for the company’s operation and growth; “Quality, service, cleanliness, and value.” Your customer base easily understands this, and it also provides a clear mission to management and employees. This statement is your guidebook to refer to in your pre-opening decision-making processes and a key operational roadmap, moving forward.
Let’s say that you’re opening a coffee shop, but your mission isn’t more clearly defined than “we serve good coffee in a comfortable environment.” That tells customers little of your vision and provides even less guidance to your management and staff.
“We serve innovative coffee drinks from sustainable sources, prepared by dedicated professionals, in an environment that encourages creativity and thought” gives you, your customers, and your staff a clear picture of your promises and expectations. Applying that to your decision-making processes then becomes quite easy:
· Regarding sourcing: Does this coffee fit our claims?
· Regarding your drink menu: Is this innovative?
· Regarding your hiring choices: Is the required degree of professionalism there?
· Regarding your design, décor, serving-ware, furniture, and even your choice of music – yes, music is significant to your brand, but that is a topic for another time – Does this create the environment that you envision?
Knowing who you are and, more importantly, who you want to be as a business is one of the most ignored first steps in planning a business. The time for existential angst is not six months into your doors being open; it’s the first action item in your business plan.