Your Vision should be your Customer reality. Do deliver…
Your Vision should be your Customer reality. Is it? The business plan methodology asks for Leadership and Vision discipline, but above all the ability to drive competence, skills, and resources in a path of Scope, Purpose, Growth, and dedication …to the Customer! It wasn’t ever easy. It wasn’t ever a words-play. Even in the startup events you learn to draft a business plan with a vision, in two days, but it takes a lot of professionalism, passion, empathy, and ethical stance to build it in real life
Vision is a worthless statement unless…
It must have been more than 10 thousands of times, that I’ve seen Vision statements in pitch briefs, advertising campaigns, company presentations and brand manuals. Company Vision statements of the ‘old-world’ all look the same: big, bold, seemingly important words …but also, boring speaking for the “producer” and not the audience; mind you, if it does speak to the audience (and truly delivered to it), it means nothing.
A well-crafted vision and mission statement can help align your company’s efforts and focus its strengths on goal achievement. After all, words (and beliefs) have power.
But words don’t translate automatically to service excellence, customer management, product safety, quality in delivery or marketing with a purpose incorporating customer and user feedback. Sick and tired of these political-positioning statements, that in reality worth very little when you look at the organization. You can exclude the 100 top multinationals, but then ‘cheap’ copycats…
Are you delivering?
If you promise to be customer-centric, how do you show this in real life, at the value-exchange points with your Customer?
What about guarantees? Quality process certifications? Benefits or responses to any problems they encounter in your (e)shop? Trusted (time-cost-service) delivery of experiences? Are you delivering really, incrementally, more than your competitors? Do you make sure that the full attention of all of your company functions has in mind the Customer? How do you measure this? How do you audit what’s working or not?
Even startups, who supposedly try to serve the new models that societies and economies ask for, don’t plan and deliver a Vision that connects to people lives and purchase cycles. Don’t make the same mistake, my dear Change-makers.
Your Vision should be a pragmatic, caring, human, growth view to the world. Your vision shouldn’t wear suits, ties, and formalities. It must be authentic, looking in the hearts and minds of the recipients of your offering (even if it’s your CV). Don’t go there unprepared; the damage that these ‘fake’ Visions have done in the old world can’t be calculated.
If your Vision is a “movement” for others, show it in the Business plan
Young people in startup events ask me “how does a real business plan look like?” implying that they’re afraid, it would be thousands of pages. No, the best I’ve seen are no more than 8 pages with bullet points, with strong database, and unique offering systems. It’s not a matter of volume (thank-god), but a challenge to look into people (Customer) realities:
- Executive summary (your pitch document – 1-page max.)
- Team: here you should ‘sell’ your best skills related to the offering; it shows you’ve selected team with capabilities, experience, and track record of driving business models at best; it means you have Customer champions and not simply technical list of CV’s
- Vision & Mission: describe the value-based commitment that a) will influence on a daily basis your brand culture and operations, but b) a view on the Customers’ lives bringing an improved Change for them (avoiding all the me-too / routine ways)
- The proposition: the factual and emotional benefits’ description of a company, product or service -specific, competitive (better than others), marking your impact on your target audience
- Market description: the knowledgeable analysis of prospect growth segments, targeting and positioning to the opportunities you’ve already researched and you aim to ‘connect’ to with results.
- Explanation of how the product, service or idea is different
- Marketing plan (360 degrees off-and-online): include any product or service variations (call them ‘product codes’) and ‘packaged’ (special) offers that they’ll get in front of them
- Sales plan and forecasts: from where exactly your value proposition will bring revenue? which targets geographically, time-wise, from which unit of your company will you monitor ahead?
- Resources (time plan, costs, development phases in time): it’s not only an investor who wants this piece of info but more importantly it’s you, the business owner, who wishes to monitor and evaluate evolution.
- Financials: ROI, Profit, and cash flow for sustainable path ahead – avoiding burn rates
- Tactics on how to make it happen (tactics you plan to support all above aspects)
But how do you start?
Answer cynically why people should buy your business, product, service, or idea, in preference to someone else’s. Your answer should include the financial reasons, functional and emotional angles why people should buy from you, which then means that your answer is essentially your value proposition (statement of value – greater value to potential customers than the current market can offer).
Stimuli to discuss and share
To create a better everyday life for many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.
The vision of Zappos.com is “delivering happiness to customers, employees, and vendors.” Whereas their mission statement, also referred to by Zappos employees as their “WOW Philosophy,” is to “provide the best customer service possible. Deliver WOW through service.”
Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.
*If you have a body, you are an athlete.
To fulfill dreams through the experiences of motorcycling.
Your Vision should be a pragmatic, caring, human, growth view to the world. Your vision shouldn’t wear suits, ties, and formalities. It must be authentic, looking in the hearts and minds of the recipients of your offering
The customer experience an organization wants to provide can vary widely. For some companies, this transformed experience represents a step change. For others, the aspiration may, at least in the short term, require only more modest changes. Either way, the aspiration will translate into an overall mission and, ultimately, into guiding principles for frontline behavior.
Imagine and plan for whatever help satisfy customers; even marginal tweaks seem good enough. Understanding the fundamental wants and needs of customers must be a step in determining what a great experience for them should look like.
Some years ago, a taxi company might have thought that decreasing the wait time when a customer ordered a cab would be sufficient. But some companies saw a competitive opportunity in addressing the wishes of customers trying to deal with a transportation challenge by getting more control, comfort, and safety, as well as lower costs.
Uber and the Greek-expanding Beat (former Taxibeat) were born. Understanding and addressing customer needs more effectively is a key reason successful start-ups disrupt industries in today’s more customer-centric marketplace.
Some more tips on business planning
- Market Strategies: “hot-to-market” strategies are the result of a meticulous market analysis. It will force you to become familiar with all aspects of the market so that the target market can be defined and the company can be positioned in order to garner its share of sales.
- Competitive Analysis: doing a competitive analysis is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within your market, strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage, the barriers that can be developed in order to prevent competition from entering your market, and any weaknesses that can be exploited within the product development cycle.
- Design & Development Plan: here, you should provide investors with a description of the product’s design, chart its development phases within the context of production, marketing ways of the product you’re after and the company itself, and create a development budget that will enable the company to reach its goals.
- Operations & Management Plan: highlight the logistics of the organization such as the various responsibilities of the management team, the tasks assigned to each division within the company, and capital and expense requirements related to the operations of the business.
Now, there are startup owners, young talent (and older professionals) who either don’t approach their business formation like this, or they laugh at the strategic methodology mentioned above. Don’t underestimate any good piece of advice. You don’t need a formal Business plan unless you’ve ensured that you can answer questions about your plan with logic, completeness and clear thinking. Unless you’ve assessed the opportunity or the problem that the target-audience has and how your plan will address this problem.
You exist because of Customers. They can ‘fire’ you in 5 seconds. Wouldn’t you invest an hour of rethinking well how your Vision will serve and meet Customer and people needs?