Derek Brooks / April 26th, 2022
Have you ever gone on a road trip without a plan?
I’m talking no destination, no starting place, no clothes for any particular climate… really, no plan at all. The kind of road trip where you get in the car and start driving, figuring out which direction to head as you go.
Unless you are a true “free spirit,” I imagine this would be pretty unusual. Yet more and more, I meet business owners with no idea where they’re heading with their business.
Instead of having a plan, these business owners keep coming into the office and putting out fires, doing whatever they do every day, hoping for new orders and new customers to come in.
If I’m being honest, and I am, this describes how my dad and I ran our business in the early days of Brandywine Printing.
We were super busy all the time, but we weren’t always happy with the work we were doing. We didn’t realize that if we could just get organized, we would be able to accomplish more with less effort, and our “busyness” would be productive and, therefore, more profitable.
But as the saying goes, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
I was aware that there were companies that had their act together more than we did, but I just assumed that they had more employees or their style of planning didn’t apply to our tiny company. At some point in my entrepreneurial journey, I realized that a company is never too small to plan.
One of the most important things that I learned along the way is you need a map. Here’s how you draw one.
Laying out a road map for your business is easier than you might think. In fact, you can break it down into four steps.
Once you have figured all of this out, the hard work starts. You’ve got to figure out how to say all of this in the shortest possible way.
Below is how we did it at Brandywine Printing.
|Step||How-To||Brandywine Printing’s Example|
|1||Identify your most profitable, easiest-to-produce product or service.||High-quality marketing materials printed on paper or any type of wide format. Business Cards, Business Forms|
|2||Identify who needs it and what type of customer you enjoy doing business with.||Businesses, Churches, Nonprofits, Schools, Sports Booster clubs, etc.|
|3||Identify the type of customer you want to avoid doing business with and determine if there is a product or service you can eliminate to avoid doing business with those customers.||Brides: Wedding Invitations;
Parents: Birthday Party Invitations;
Expecting Mothers: Birth Announcements & Baby shower Invitations;
Individual Real-Estate Agents: (they usually want the cheapest option for their marketing materials)
|4||Identify the pros and cons that you may encounter when selling your product or service to both of these types of customers.||The customers that we enjoy tend to have a marketing budget and spend a lot more on printing than the individual consumer. They also generally have a graphic designer create print-ready files before they come to us, versus the consumers who just have an idea but no print files. Lastly, the organizations we serve will do a great deal of repeat business with us, resulting in a long-term relationship, where the consumer-level customers are usually one and done. (Even if consumers referred their friends, it just bred more of the same type of business with the same issues.)|
Once you’ve taken the time to map out your answers using the table above, you’ll want to put it all together and make a paragraph out of your answers, like this:
We print high-quality marketing materials printed on paper or any type of wide format. We also print business cards and business forms for businesses, churches, nonprofits, schools, sports booster clubs, etc. We do not print for brides (wedding invitations), parents (birthday party invitations), expecting mothers (birth announcements and baby shower invitations), or individual real-estate agents (because they usually want the cheapest option for their marketing material). The customers that we enjoy tend to have a marketing budget, and therefore spend a lot more on printing than the individual consumer. They also generally have a graphic designer create print ready files before they come to us, versus the consumers who just have an idea, but no print files. Lastly, the organizations that we serve do a great deal of repeat business with us resulting in a long-term relationship, where the consumer-level customers are usually one and done. (Even if the consumers referred their friends it just bred more of the same type of business with the same issues.)
When a map is too complicated, it’s hard to follow. So next, you’ll need to prune and adjust your paragraph until you can make it one tight sentence.
We print high-quality marketing materials and business forms for businesses, schools, and non-profits. We don’t print for consumers at all.
In his book Start with Why, Simon Sinek says, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”
Your last step is to remember your why. What drives you to accomplish the statement above?
Here is our final version:
Brandywine Printing exists to help organizations succeed by providing them with printed materials that either improve their image or make them more efficient.
This is our Mission Statement.
Creating a road map for your business is not hard work, but it does take some intentional time and energy. If you do the work of defining these things for yourself and your team, I assure you that you will enjoy your work more than when you had no plan.