How to Figure Out What Your Business NEEDS to Do

Do You Know What Your Business NEEDS to Do?This is part of the “What your business SHOULD be doing online” Formula series.

To get the whole picture, you may want to click that link and start at the beginning. 🙂

One of the most fundamental parts of running your business is knowing what your company needs to do in order to succeed.

Yes, that seems like a statement from Captain Obvious, but here’s the thing:

Most businesses have a really hard time figuring out what they
NEED to do when confronted with everything they CAN do.

Look at Me!

As a business owner, you are constantly being hit with distractions.

Many of these distractions arise from everyday occurrences such as customer complaints, vendor issues, equipment breakdowns and all the other fun and necessary tasks that come your way. Most of these need to be taken care of as they arise and are just a part of running your business.

It’s the other two types of distractions however, which poses the most danger to the success of your business. They are the “Supposed-to” and the “Oooo…shiny!” distractions and the online world is full of ’em.

Typically, you run across the “Supposed-to” and “Oooo…shiny!” distractions while trying to figure out what your business should be doing online.

There you sit, reading a post or watching a video when you come across a solution or approach for managing or marketing your business.

  • Sometimes the solution or approach is presented as a “Supposed-to”, something all businesses SHOULD be doing if they know what’s good for them.
  • Sometimes the solution or approach looks “Shiny!”, it sounds cool and fun and, more importantly, the expected results seem to be very positive, something you believe would benefit your business.

So you spend a day, a week or sometimes even months using the solution or implementing the approach.

You may be very successful and achieve all the goals you set out to meet, but something’s not quite right. While you did meet the stated end results of the solution or approach, you have not met your business goals.

The point of this story?

Some of the “Supposed-to” and “Oooo…shiny!” distractions lead
to results you NEED for your business to succeed and some do not.

The trick is knowing which is which.

Company A Revisited

A perfect example of the point above is the story of Company A from my “Not Sure What Your Business Should be Doing Online? Follow this Formula!” post.

I’ll wait here while you go read that story.

Hint: it’s in a yellow box like this one in the middle of the post. Just hit your browser’s “Back” button when you’re done reading to return here.

Welcome back! So, what does the story of fictional Company A teach us?

  • Yes, Company A can use the “Huge Number of Followers” approach to get the largest number of followers for a business of their type.
  • Yes, they can increase awareness of their products across the globe.
  • Yes, they can achieve all the positive results that this approach yields: respect, awareness and website traffic.

But what’s the point? If those results do not bring more people into their physical store to buy their products, they will not meet the business goal of increasing sales during slow periods.

If they get too distracted when using the “Huge Number of Followers” approach, they may not meet their sales goals at all and that will not bode well for the continued existence of their business.

So how can Company A figure this all out ahead of time, without putting their company at risk?

By using their business goals as the filter through which they make all their strategic and tactical decisions.

Goals – Strategies – Tactics

Your business goals are the reasons you start your business in the first place. You may want to accomplish one or more of these goals:

  • Build the business as big as it can go
  • Build the business to a point, sell it and retire early
  • Be your own boss
  • Help those in need
  • Make a living by doing the things you love to do every day
  • And on and on…

As you can see, business goals can vary a lot from business to business, but they all have one thing in common with each other: they must drive everything the business and its employees do.

If that is not the case, then you will not achieve your business goals and it is for that reason that all strategies and tactics must be held up to the filter of the business’ goals.

For example, let’s say that the owner of Company A loves her products. She can talk about them all day and she started her business so she could make a living surrounded by the things she loves.

In her mind, making a living means being able to pay for all of her expenses and some luxuries (mortgage, retirement fund, kids’ college fund, a yearly trip to Europe, etc.).

BUSINESS GOAL: to have a company that lets her do what she loves while making enough of a living to support expenses and some luxuries.

Company A’s strategy needs to support that goal.

Strategies are the high-level plans (methods and approaches) for achieving a business’ goals.

In the case of Company A, she needs to make a certain amount of money each year to achieve her business goal. That amount needs to include enough money to not only to achieve the stated goal above, but to also keep her business running so she can continue to achieve the business’ goal year-after-year.

In addition, Company A’s owner wants to be surrounded by her products so she determines that a retail location would be the ideal setting for her business.

BUSINESS STRATEGY: Earn $x.xx selling products from my retail location each year so I can continue to run my business so I can continue to make a living (i.e. pay for all of the expenses and some luxuries).

Company A’s tactics need to support that strategy.

Tactics are where the rubber hits the road. Your tactics are the approaches and tasks you actually take and do to make your strategy successful and to reach your business goals.

The tactical level is also where the “Supposed-to” and “Oooo…shiny!” distractions can have the most negative impact on your business.

Company A has a very straightforward strategy: to earn $x.xx selling products in her retail location each year.

Since she likes to be surrounded by her products (a key part of her business goal), Company A’s owner decided that a retail location would be ideal. Once that location is up and running, she needs to sell enough products to reach her strategic goal.

To increase traffic to her store, Company A’s owner advertises in the local and regional papers, magazines and school graduation booklets. She also sends out direct mail pieces to the surrounding communities.

Both of these approaches yielded some success, but not as much as she needs to meet her strategic goal of $x.xx for the year.

And this is where we came into the story.

Company A’s owner was looking for a way to use the web to increase traffic to her retail store which she hoped would boost sales.

She could have gone down the “Huge Number of Followers” path, a distraction which I have seem presented using both the “Supposed-to” and “Oooo…shiny” methods, which would have cost her months of time and effort and yielded little in return.

Instead, she used her goals and strategies as a filter to determine if that tactical approach would be one she SHOULD use. She asked herself one simple question: “Will using this approach help me achieve my strategic and business goals?”

The answer as you saw was, “No”. The tactical approach she SHOULD (and did) use was the “Target Local Followers and Drive them to my Location with Specials” approach and it yielded results that led to her achieving her business and strategic goals.

The Take Away

The truth of the matter is that the story above is simplified. Most business have both multiple goals and strategies which only makes it more important to assure that the tactics you use support one or more of them.

The main take away though was demonstrated clearly in the Company A example: you need to consider your business’ goals and strategies each and every time you evaluate whether you should use a specific online tactic (a solution or approach). You need to ask yourself:

  1. What outcome(s) will using this tactic yield?
  2. Will the outcome(s) move me closer to achieving a strategic goal which in turn will move me closer to achieving a business goal?
  3. If I implement this tactic, what tactics am I passing over to do so (you can’t do it all, as much as you would like that to be the case)?

One important note: this approach is as valid offline as it is online. In fact, I suggest that you forget the words “online” and “offline” and just think of them as channels where you can do business and achieve your goals.

I’ll leave you with this reminder from above:

Some of the “Supposed-to” and “Oooo…shiny!” distractions lead
to results you NEED for your business to succeed and some do not.

The trick is knowing which is which.

What’s Next?

Next, I’ll continue the “What your business SHOULD be doing online” Formula series with a post that puts it all together so you can finally figure out what your business SHOULD be doing online.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post in the comments below.

Learn more about my forthcoming book

I’m in the process of writing a book that will walk you through the “What Your Business SHOULD Be Doing Online” formula step-by-step. Due early next year, it’s called:

Figuring Out the Web: The Step-By-Step Formula for finally knowing exactly What YOUR Business SHOULD Be Doing Online – even if you hate technology”

Learn more…

Go to the next post in the series –>

Trackbacks

  1. BizSugar.com says:

    How to Figure Out What Your Business NEEDS to Do…

    Do your online activities help you achieve your business strategies and goals? Avoid the “Supposed-to” and “Oooo…shiny” distractions and figure out what your business NEEDS to do to online to succeed….

  2. […] How to figure out what your business needs to do. One of the most important concerns about your small business is to know what your business needs to do to succeed.  It is important to differentiate between what you must do and what you can do. Distractions can result in failure. One must constantly review the set of goals you had when you started your business. Those goals must be behind everything your company does. This article gives you ideas on how to evaluate your actions against your goals. Matt About Business […]

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