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Achieve success with a business map
3 essential questions to take your business to the next level
There are two common reasons why new businesses fail: either they don’t know what success means to them or they don’t have a clear path from point A, where they are when they start their company, to point B, where they want to be. A business map solves both problems.
Industries change so quickly, thanks to the constant development of technology, that a business plan is no longer enough to plot the future of your business with any certainty. Disruptive technologies or unexpected competitors can come along and displace your business overnight. How do you position your business in this hyper-competitive environment? Are you wondering how to make a business action plan that will lead you in the right direction? Do you know how to write a business plan that will turn your worries into wins?
This is force #1 of the 7 Forces of Business Mastery: Know Where You Really Are and Create an Effective Business Map.
That’s right. You need to stop focusing on how to set up a business plan and instead focus on how to create a business map. Watch the video below to discover the power of the business map plan through the eyes of one business owner who attended Business Mastery.
What is a business map?
A business map looks at your business in terms of roles, responsibilities and standards. It’s not just a way to get from point A to point B or to achieve certain goals – it’s an in-depth look at what’s working or not working in your business and a path to make changes or improvements that will achieve greater success.
A business map allows for a top-down view of how your business works. It does more than just identify where you want company growth to be in two years or how hiring a sales team will lead to greater profits. Instead, it revolves around introspection – regarding everything from processes, inputs and workflow to why you’re in your particular field and the impact you want to have on your community.
A business map can come in many forms, including flowcharts, diagrams and value stream maps, or it can be created with various types of software. Don’t get caught up in the details and choose a combination of modules that work best for your company. The format is less important than the questions you ask to develop it and the mindset behind it.
The benefits of a business map
The process of creating a business map goes deeper than a business action plan. Not only does it address growth possibilities, sales and other surface issues, but it delves into what your business does, who’s responsible for what and what standards need to be met to determine success.
Keep the focus on the big picture
The goal of a business map is the same as a business plan: to be more effective. However, it takes a more holistic approach to get there. A business map ensures that the big picture of your company is always front and center. It not only helps with your company’s long-term goals, but it also helps you and your team keep the business vision in sight on a day-to-day basis. You don’t just use your business map during the growth phases of your business – you use it for the life of your business.
Problem solve more effectively
You can’t solve problems if you don’t know what they are. Business maps will reveal where your company really is – and what its true problems are. They allow you to take a step back from day-to-day management tasks and see your business holistically. A business map also involves soliciting input from your employees on the front lines about the challenges and issues they face every day, giving you valuable information that will help you solve problems and make tough decisions.
Align internal processes
Many business problems are the result of poorly designed internal processes. You might experience high employee turnover, poor inventory management, a large amount of manual labor or other inefficiencies that can cost you time and money. A business map will help you identify these inefficiencies and establish best practices to fix them. And that will help you scale the business, drive revenue and overcome challenges more easily.
Better manage risk
While some people tolerate risk better than others, the fact is that business ownership always comes with risk. Risk can create a business’s highest highs – Netflix certainly proved everyone wrong and changed the media industry when it changed its business model. It can also lead to complete failure – Hostess, Converse, Polaroid and others have all gone bankrupt more than once. A business map can help you manage risk and compliance by documenting and managing your processes to help employees understand their responsibilities.
When you design a business plan, you create a rigid framework with specific goals and actions. When you create a business map, flexibility is the goal. In industries that change on almost a daily basis and where businesses are at risk of being disrupted, flexibility is key. Though your business map plan will have structure, it will also be able to respond to any changes that occur with your customers, the economy or the industry. This helps you create an innovation culture and foster growth. Changing your mindset to one of flexibility helps you develop empowering beliefs that will permeate your entire organization.
How to create a business map
Get major players involved when you create a business map. To turn your employees into raving fans of your business, ask for their input and implement their ideas. Schedule regular meetings to create a business map, improve the map and identify when goals are achieved. Assign team members to different tasks including project managing, writing out action plans and taking the appropriate next steps. At your meetings, ask yourself the following questions.
What business am I in?
Your first answer will probably be the obvious one. You’re in the business of developing software or constructing homes or providing professional services. But when you stop there, you’re not digging deep enough. There are thousands of companies that develop software, build homes and do taxes. What makes you different? With a business map, you’ll connect your business to your passion – which is ultimately what gives you the hunger to succeed.
For instance, what business is Starbucks in? Most people would say the coffee business. But ask Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, and he will likely tell you about his trip to Italy, where he saw people eagerly meeting in cafés before and after work.
Before Schultz ever began wondering how to create a business map or plan, he saw the promise of a transitional meeting place between home and work, and that was the seed that grew into Starbucks. He knew his business was about creating an experience, not just delivering coffee.
When creating a business map plan, you’ll ask yourself and your team what experience you want to create with your business. Is it about the products or service or is it about something bigger? When you discover and harness your purpose – both as an individual and a business – you can truly realize your vision.
What business am I really in?
How is this question useful when you create a business map? This question prompts business owners to think not only about their specific company, but the industry as a whole and the people they’re delivering value to. It makes you focus on what really matters – the customer – and ensures you are constantly striving to create the ultimate customer experience.
Back in the early 1900s, if railroad companies in the U.S. realized that they were really in the transportation business, not the railroad business, they could have prevented the entire industry from going bankrupt as the trucking industry took over. Having a business map really means framing your business in terms that enable you to see opportunities (and threats) that you might otherwise overlook.
It’s common for business owners to fall in love with their product and not their customer. To build a thriving business – or save a failing one – you must fall in love with your customer, not your product. Knowing what business you’re really in means having a deep and thorough understanding of your customer and the value they gain from you. This is your X factor. It’s the way that you provide more value to your customers and clients than anyone else. And it’s what guides constant and strategic innovation in your industry and your business.
How is business now and how do I want it to be?
Asking “How is my business doing?” when creating a business map is the next step to achieving your overall goals. Once you really understand how to consistently offer more value than anyone else in your market, you’re in a better position to identify where you are now, and what it will take to get to where you want to be.
Being realistic and honest about the state of your business is essential. If you’ve fallen in love with your product – like the railroads – you may be seeing your business through “rose-colored glasses” and missing signs of trouble. At the same time, if you’re feeling discouraged and disempowered, you may believe things are worse than they are. That’s why a key part of creating a business map is to get input from others who can help you be objective.
When you’re asking yourself how you want your business to be, think beyond revenue, profits and numbers. Connecting values and purpose to your business map will not only help you grow and create a better experience for your customers, but it will also ensure that you, your partners and your team members will be happy in the workplace. As every good leader knows, their business can’t succeed unless they have an engaged team that is deeply connected to their cause.
Using a business map to achieve success
Through the deep introspection that is part of creating a business map, you’ll discover what success really means to you and how to determine when you achieve it. This clarity helps you and your employees stay hungry for that defined success and keep fear at bay. A detailed business map provides a clear plan for how you and your team need to get there. This allows you to make tweaks when you’re not hitting smaller goals and stay flexible within the broader framework of your overall vision.
When you create a business map rather than a business action plan, you dig deeply into your business to find out what really makes it tick. This will help you create a better experience for your customers, your team members and you. You’ll have more certainty about what your business needs to grow now and you’ll be better able to steer your organization in accordance with that vision. Most importantly, you’ll understand what business you need to be in to become the dominant force in your market.
If you want to increase engagement in your business for yourself and for those you lead, take the next step in personal development by attending Business Mastery, a powerful 5-day experience that will greatly improve your business skills.