7 Answers That Define Your Business

by Jay Deragon on 11/18/2013

who are you

How does the marketplace identify with your business?

Not knowing the answer to this question means you may not have a clear identity or you are allowing others to define your business. Not providing a clear identity conveys a lack of organizational purpose.  Without purpose there is no opportunity to create unique and sustainable value. Unique and sustainable value is a lot more than just a profit but it does include economic returns for all stakeholders.

In a connected world of transparent information it doesn’t take long for the marketplace to “connect the dots” and find out what it is that defines your business, your brand, your products, your relationships, your culture and your consciousness which collectively represents your identity.  Your identity defines your business but it is also how you identify with your stakeholders.

Lawrence Ackerman, Author  Identity is Destiny writes In the field of human behavior and psychology, the notion of identity, whether a person’s or an organization’s, speaks to the things that make them unique—that rich and varied set of characteristics that fuels differentiation and fires contribution. Within this field, identity is the most powerful force.                                                                      

7 Questions Whose Answers Define Your Business

The answers to the following questions do not come from the C Suite of your organization or the Board of Directors. You may think your business is defined by the beliefs and actions initiated from the inside out but the reality is your organization is defined by how it identifies with its stakeholders. The difference between the two is words vs. actions.

Let’s look at the questions:

  1. What is the purpose of your organization? Take a look at companies whose success has been sustainable. They are keenly aware of the purpose they fulfill for all stakeholders– and they measure their activities against their words.  Need evidence? See Deloitte’s survey results on 2013 core beliefs and culture survey. Have you clearly defined the purpose of the organization?  Is it just words or does it have actions? Does your purpose relate to human needs? Are your fulfilling it? How would you know? Who would you ask? What value is expected?
  2. Who are your stakeholders? Your organizations relies on an ecosystem made up of people, processes, information, products, services and networks with each relying on one another to optimize individual and collective purposes. Not knowing your stakeholders means you don’t know how your purpose fulfills their purpose. Even if you know do you know how you are performing in their eyes?
  3. What do you do to create value for your stakeholders? – 80% of the value created in today’s marketplace is intangible. How does your organization create intangible value? How would you measure it? How do you compare to others? Where are your strengths and weaknesses? If you don’t know then how would you create new value?
  4. What are the key processes and competencies that support this value creation? Once you have the answers to #3 then map it out using the Business Model Canvas which will help you see the critical elements of your organization that drive value creation.  Since intangibles play such a large role in value creation you may also consider using this iteration of the BMC for mapping intangibles.
  5. Who are the key partners that support your value creation model? Value is never created in isolation. Key partners are the critical few stakeholders that you rely on to create value. Who would they be? How is their contribution measured? What value do they add? What value do you add and how are you measured?
  6. What are the key competencies your business needs to sustain the model? Knowing to 1 -5 helps you define what human, strategic, relationship and structural capital will be required to sustain and accelerate value creation for the marketplace. The bigger question may be what key competencies identify best with the marketplace you aim to serve?
  7. Can your business redefine itself? Many businesses and individuals come to a point when they recognize the need to “find their purpose”. Then they wonder if it is too late, can they rebuild their reputation, their relationships, their lives and their businesses. The greatest gift to mankind is forgiveness and it is another intangible asset that enables everyone to redefine themselves and their business. Just don’t take it for granted and make that part of your purpose.

Finding your own answers to these questions will help you better identify with your stakeholders or awaken you to the need to define your purpose.

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