Another alternative is to look hard at your market. Try to take a step back from your business, like the artist squinting to see the view, and look at what they really want. For example:
- The famous Theodore Leavitt saying, that customers who buy drills don’t want drills. They want holes.
- Buyers of business planning software don’t want the software, they want the business planning.
- When you pull into the local fast foods drive-through facility with two kids in the car on a Saturday morning between soccer games, what do you want from them? How is it different from what you want when you go out as a couple on Friday night and leave the kids at home?
- There’s soap and soap. One bar of soap you buy at the grocery store and put in the shower. Another comes well packaged with fragrance and fine wrapping on Feb. 14. Are they the same soap?
So as you start your planning, give this some thought. You can try to just step away from the business and see it, or talk to some customers, or do (gulp) market research. Don’t get too concerned with market research, that’s not a matter of spending thousands of dollars or doing formal primary research, just thinking it through. We hired one person to talk to 10 customers once, and she gave us a valuable new point of view on what they wanted from us and why they bought from us.
If you are more than one person in your company, get together with others, and use this question as a brainstorming theme. That helps you get into a planning mode.
So as a reminder, this is just one of many different ways to get started. It’s good to understand that business planning isn’t sequential, you are going to jump around from one element to another, so just get going. Understanding what the market wants is a good step towards effective strategy.