Here we are several weeks after the death of Steve Jobs, and many of you may be wondering if you could make a similar impact on your business, clients, and the world in general. Steven Paul “Steve” Jobs was an American inventor and businessman widely recognized as a charismatic pioneer of the personal computer era. He was co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Apple Inc. You can read more about the man, Steve Jobs, in the recently released authorized biography written by Walter Isaacson, “Steve Jobs”, published October 24, 2011, by Simon & Schuster.Steve Jobs has been praised for his brilliance, passion, and energy that created countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. Some would say that the world is a better place in some ways because of Steve Jobs. Sometimes in our reactions to another’s death we take the time to reflect upon the reasons for everything that we do in business, in life, in all.In this ever-changing world, you are all faced with issues addressing the viability and efficacy of your current business model. There are client/customer issues in how to remain competitive while at the same time delivering a high-touch quality service that meets the expectations of the ever-changing expectations of your clients.
There are internal issues from employees and colleagues who are expecting financial security and personal fulfillment from their work experience with you, and they are critically evaluating you as to how you adjust and adapt to all of the factors bombarding your business. However, most employees are resistant to change, and at times the words of Albert Einstein periodically cross your mind as he defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
There are your personal, financial, and business goals that are being challenged everyday: creating a sustainable company with a viable predictable revenue stream, maintaining a steady marketing system that generates quality clients/customers “beating a path to your door,” and getting commitment and buy-in from your colleagues that nothing is constant but change. The metrics of economic value for your business are also being redefined.
So let’s substitute the word “change” for re-inventing. Every business is to some degree in a transformation process, and as the changes in our world accelerate with more technology, you need to be perpetually morphing. So where do you begin?
Let’s begin with the basics. It may be time to identify and assemble your key employees into a Strategic Planning Group. This task force is a core team of the organization’s leaders and is mandatory in the effective creation of a strategic plan. Some strategic questions you should all begin to answer are:
What business are you really in? What is your mission statement? Your Unique Value Proposition? Your vision statement?
We all remember the mission statement that you wrote a long time ago or never got around to recording on paper. Your organization’s mission is a definition of who and what you are. Mission statements often include core goals and values of the company or organization.
Too often you overlook the vision statement. The vision statement is simply a roadmap for the future. In a vision statement, you’re creating your vision for the preferred future of your company. Initially, the vision statement should be vaguely specific, negotiating with others to eventually create the path to the ultimate future.
The value proposition is another important statement the company may need to address. Wikipedia defines a value proposition as “a promise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer of value that will be experienced.” Developing a value proposition is based on a review and analysis of the benefits, costs, and value that an organization can deliver to its customers, prospective customers, and other constituent groups within and outside the organization.
So as you begin to redefine what business you are in and to re-address these three statements, it may be time to perform a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis.
A SWOT analysis must start with defining a desired end state or objective and may be incorporated into the strategic planning model. When you have completed the SWOT analysis, what are your conclusions? Why not do a SWOT analysis of your major competitor? Now compare the two. What makes you unique or distinct in the marketplace? What are your strategic advantages and how can you leverage your strengths and your competitor’s vulnerabilities?
Reinventing the mission statement, the vision statement, and the value proposition coupled with the SWOT analysis is time-consuming, and relevant to your business planning. It may be advantageous to review these strategic planning components on an annual basis.
So as you embark upon the journey of re-invention, keep the words of Steve Jobs ingrained in your thoughts:
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.
Robert A. Valente, CFP®, AEP®, is CEO and Managing Member of RAV Financial Services LLC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.