Charting the Course – Business Plan Development & Research

As it is necessary to understand the direction and strength of the wind, before sailing, one must know the contrary winds in business. Charting a development strategy for a large or small business requires detail information about the competition. Too many entrepreneurs launch out with a dream, but never bring it down to the real world where men, women and children make the decisions “to buy or not to buy.” What are the qualities and flaws of the competitive products or services? Where and how are they sold? What are the prices and discounts? Who sells them? The provider’s reputation, financial strength, history and sales staff provide important clues to the nature of competition a product faces. The best ways to research include:

· Search the Internet for information, critiques, or evaluations of your competitors;
· Purchase the product or service for your personal evaluation;
· Find out what potential consumers think about it;

Getting this information requires a bit of work and research. Visit the competitor, interview their customers, sit in a place where you can observe the operation, and keep records. Who’s buying? What are they buying? At what price? Always look for any wrinkles in the competitor’s operation.

Once you have drawn a picture of the competitor, compare your own business plan to that. What advantage does your business strategy, location, products or services have over the competition? In particular, consider the pricing. Can you compete on price? If your goods are higher in price explain why. You may succeed with higher prices, but there will have to be reasons why people will pay more for your products. The aesthetics of the store, the nature of a guarantee, the skills of the sales staff and other features make be an attraction. How does your business compare to the competition? You want to compose your strategy based on the competition. All of this information will give you a clue to the potential you have of beating the competition. If you can beat the competition you have a better chance of being the business to survive.

Is It Time to Ban the Organizational Chart?

One critical part of creating transparency and openness in your business is the realization that you can make your business any way you want to. And that includes banning the organizational chart.

In fact, if you take anything away from this article on designing the structure of your organization, let it be this: you have the whole world, your whole creative brain, the whole creative brain of everybody in your organization to do it your way.

The world is screaming for people to be creative with their process.

There are some things we have to do in business. We need to make money and we need to have a profit. We need to comply with certain laws and obligations. But other than that, the organizations people want to create (and work for) today are completely, uniquely theirs.

I want to show you a couple of tools that you can use which I call the Create The Company Structure of Your Dreams.

Before we get started, you should know that I absolutely hate org charts. The first time I sat down and looked at an org chart and then had to use and experience an org chart I thought I was going to shoot myself because it was such a linear representation with two dimensional square boxes. It was such a hierarchial way of looking at a business that I wanted to scream.

You know what a traditional organizational chart looks like, right? You see all these boxes and titles, lines: dotted and solid, who reports to whom, etc.

Now, to be fair traditional organizational charts do give us a little bit of an idea of what the inside of a organization looks like. But what if we scrapped that view of our organizations and went into something that was much better representation of what your organization is really like?

Let’s work with a different metaphor, one that I learned from my friend and mentor, Roger Alan.

Take an organic graph, such as one using the metaphor of a funnel. Then take all the things that feed into the funnel and show how they all interact with each other. This can show how a company really works.

When working with these metaphors and illustrations of their companies people come up with some amazingly original ideas that helps them to really have a sense of what is important, who was important, and what are the important relationships inside of the company.

This goes far beyond a simply org chart with people represented in boxes and titles. Creating your own org chart allows you to really create and implement your vision, noble cause, and your core values.

Think of the metaphor that works for your business and then create a picture of it.

Think about the roles that people have and how they interact with each other. Sure there’s the who reports to whom, but if you are creating a transparent and open company, it isn’t always a reporting to whom, it’s the relationships we have with each other. It’s the flow of work.

Lastly, think about how are you grouped and how are you linked together. And not just inside the company but with everything that interacts: customers, community, vendors, prospects, media, internet, information sources, financial sources, investors, bankers, family members. anyone or anything that significantly integrates with your company.

I invite you to start drawing your core values, vision, noble cause, and mission into the design of your business.

Don’t forget to be creative on where you put yourself!

I read a fabulous article the other day about a company who had stripped themselves of all titles. I love it, because it flattened their company and it made everybody feel more comfortable. It made everybody feel that leadership can happen at all levels. And the relationships that they were making internally, formally and informally, were powerful. I invite you to be as creative as you possibly can be. Never believe that you have to follow the rules that have come before you.

Writing A Business Plan For Success