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  • 10.21.14

5 Questions You Must Be Able To Answer About Your Business

Can you answer these five questions successfully? If not, it’s time to rethink your business’s strategy.

5 Questions You Must Be Able To Answer About Your Business
[Photo: Flickr user Sebastiaan ter Burg]

One of the key opportunities for a business to grow is when leaders recognize the need to revisit, refresh, or redefine the key building blocks that drive their business. When the CEO or CMO realizes it’s time to reinvigorate and reposition their brand, it oftentimes highlights the need to refine or redefine their overall business strategy.

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There is a lack of understanding around some of the most important building blocks for change. More often than not, there is a lack of agreement around what vision, mission, and values actually mean, why they’re important, and how to put them into action to drive growth. Oftentimes, prior work in this space is discounted because it’s either outdated or irrelevant, and it ends up living in generic and forgettable statements mounted on plaques in conference rooms.

If a team doesn’t have a clear and compelling reason to get out of bed each day, know where they’re heading, how they’re going to get there, and understand the rules of the road, they operate in a vacuum and are driving blind. When teams realize they’re lost and doing the wrong things, the organization usually starts to spin until someone says stop and asks for help.

Building a clear brand platform and keeping it alive is key. The platform should inform every facet of the business. Establishing clarity and buy-in to the company’s vision, mission, and values ensures that the strategy is clearly built from that foundation and can be shared as a compelling story your people will proudly execute against.

Here are five of the not-so-common sense questions to consider when refreshing and redefining your company’s brand platform and turning your strategy into a compelling story people understand.

1. Do You Have A Vision?

Vision is a clear picture of the future. If your company’s vision isn’t clear, and if your team isn’t talking about the impact you’re trying to make in the world, then it’s time to revisit it.

Your vision should be a clear statement that paints a picture of how you want to see the world changed based on your brand’s role in it. The vision should be big and bold. It should be a stretch, thought-provoking, and inspiring.

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Map out the future and the role you’ve played in it thus far. Having a vision makes your brand’s “why” easy to define. People need a paycheck and a career path, but they want to be a part of something bigger–-have a clear vision and you will bring clarity to your brand.

2. Are You On A Mission?

A mission is how you intend to make your vision a reality, and a mission statement is not theoretical, but rather makes a factual declaration of your brand’s intent. Think about a mission statement much like a clearly articulated military mission. It’s definitive and directional––it maps and identifies what your brand plans to do, and how it will realize its vision.

3. Are Your Values Clear?

Values are the beliefs and principles that guide your actions, and they are imperative for your company to have. They are fundamental beliefs that define the human-centered principles that guide the brand’s decision-making, debates, and disagreements, and help define the character and integrity of the company.

Hiring based on the company’s values is fundamental. When these values are universally understood, they help to shape the company’s authenticity and culture. If you or your team can’t remember your brand’s values or describe how to use them, then it’s time to reexamine and redefine the values.

4. Have You Written Your Strategy?

A well-crafted strategy is like the unfolding plot in a great story: It connects the characters, helps define their actions, and compels the audience to pay attention and stay engaged. A compelling and clear strategy deliberately directs and guides the actions of employees, ensuring they have clear focus and are directionally connected to the overall goals of the company. Strategy defines the actions that complete your brands mission.

5. Is Your Three-year Strategy Clear?

A well thought through, data-driven strategy that is clearly defined and shared in a compelling manner creates confidence and connection among everyone responsible for driving the brand. Validating your existing strategy, or developing a new strategy based on the current or pending conditions of the business, is the responsibility of a responsive, diligent and adaptive leader. Strategy that is delivered like a compelling story will help achieve the brand mission and deliver meaningful results.

About the author

Shawn Parr is the Guvner & CEO of Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design consultancy headquartered in San Diego whose clients and partners have included Starbucks, Diageo, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, Adidas, MTV, Nestle, Pinkberry, American Eagle Outfitters, Ideo, Sony, Virgin, Disney, Nike, Mattel, Heineken, Annie’s Homegrown, Kashi, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, The Honest Kitchen, and World Vision.

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