You can know all the latest and great tactics in your industry. You can have your finger on the pulse of what’s hot in your field. But if you don’t have a clear picture of your overall strategy for business, those tactics are worthless.
(And you’ve spent too much time, money, and energy learning them to render them useless, right?)
You want to set your business up for strategic success so that you can put those tactics and trends to use—and better yet, start to develop some of your own.
In a Harvard Business Review article by Roger Martin, strategy is defined as knowing Where You Want to Play and How You’re Going to Win. And while the essence of that—that business is a game and that there’s a clear path to winning—might have resonated with MBAs and corporate big wigs before the dawn of the New Economy, I don’t think it resonates with today’s new wave of entrepreneurs who are building communities and movements as much as they are building revenue streams and management systems.
So what do you need to know to set up your business for strategic success? Try these 5 questions I’ve adapted the framework that Martin poses to capture our context of creation and connection.
#NewEconomy Strategy: Where to Create & How to Connect
- What is your vision for making life meaningfully better for your business community and what are the metrics of success by which you’ll measure that vision?
- What conversation is your business a part of and what voices in that conversation are your best prospects looking for an alternative to?
- In the greater conversation your business is a part of, how will you represent your unique point-of-view to engage customers who are excited about your businesses strengths, skills, and passion?
- What are the unique strengths, skills, and passion (your Onlyness) your business can invest in to attract your best prospects?
- What product, marketing, sales, and management systems can you put in place to support and enhance your business’s unique strengths, skills, and passion?[/thst_alert]
Martin, who developed the strategic questions my adaptation is based on, argues iteration is the key to better strategy. You have to be willing to make an initial wager on the answer to your first question, then be willing to evolve that as you answer the second question, and so on.
There’s a dual imperative: to both be committed to your strategic thinking and be willing to iterate when the facts change.
This dual imperative holds true for the New Economy. With communities and conversations constantly evolving, your strategic vision also needs to be constantly open to change.
So while it’s always a good time of year to think strategically, I find that summer presents some great opportunities. As we wrap up the first half of the year, I challenge you to consider how your market, its opportunities, and your plans have evolved in 2014 and how you can evolve your own strategic vision for the second half of 2014 to make the impact in the world you’re here to make.
Download a copy of the 5 #neweconomy strategy questions.
A good life is one rich in, above all, “human potential,” the capacity to seed, nurture, and harvest all the many different kinds of wealth.
— Umair Haque, Betterness
Building your own business on your strengths, passion, and self-determination goes a long way towards generating wealth on many levels.
You’ll find your reserves of creativity rising, your relationship accounts overflowing, and your energy reports firmly in the black. Raking in a nice profit doesn’t hurt, either.
This is old news.
You Economy businesses must not only support their owners but support others.
This is not as simple as “do no harm.”
It means working in a way that leaves your commercial ecosystems qualitatively & quantifiably better. As Haque describes it in his book, Betterness, it’s a positive paradigm of economy – not simply a “not negative” one.
The positive economic paradigm isn’t just based in the trade of financial assets but the growth of real wealth in all its forms.
In this system, your business thrives because you’re not just solving problems for your customers but helping them live richer lives. Your business doesn’t make life “not bad” it makes life better.
You know your business can make your life richer in many forms: relationally, creatively, financially, intellectually, emotionally, etc.. But have you designed it to make your customer’s lives better in all those ways as well?
Do you make business decisions with the intention of making your customers richer?
I don’t doubt that some of you already do this. However, in striving to make our businesses work “better,” we often crack open the annals of Them Economy business. We assume the answer lies in the dots that remain unconnected in our non-MBA-trained brains. We assume the answer is hiding in more persuasive marketing copy, finely tuned profit & loss statements, and better launch strategy.
But you are not just another cog in the Them Economy machine.
I love persuasive marketing copy, finely tuned P&L statements, and rocking launch strategies, but the basis & understanding for those facets of business must now arise from an other-focused culture. Your overall business culture must emerge from a focus on generating multidimensional wealth for those you come in contact with.
What is business culture?
Your business culture (and yes, you have one!) is the point-of-view & values that make up all business decisions, communication, and development.
“The thing is, every business has a culture. It may be strong or weak, positive or negative, or just plain hard to spot, but it’s like a form of internal brand in a way. It’s the collective impression, habits, language, style, communication and practices of the organization.
— John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing”
You’re not an entrepreneur, you’re an anthropreneur.
An anthropreneur is part of & is creating a commercial culture that serves human beings to their full potential. The language, habitat, rituals, and beliefs of service & those you serve are at the center of your business culture. As an anthropreneur, you are concerned with building wealth into every facet of life – beyond mere profit – both yours & your customers’.
This is why you find the usual answers to business questions lacking. It’s not that those answers are wrong. It’s that in a different time, a different economy, a different culture, you could start with those answers & build from there.
In the You Economy, you must start with your other-focused culture. You must start with the intention to build wealth on all levels for all parties involved. You must know what that looks like, feels like, tastes like. And then you can layer the business-as-usual answers on top of that context. You can evaluate them. You can mold them & manipulate them to work for your business culture.
Consider social media. No, really.
I am a lover of social media. Both for what it has allowed me to access in commerce & for what it has allowed me to communicate to a mass audience. But I’m not a “how to” social media strategist. I’m a user. And maybe a bit of a philosopher.
But social media is an acute & accessible example of the generating multidimensional forms of wealth.
The gurus will tell you how often to tweet, when to post updates, and what types of headlines will generate the most response. That’s fine. There’s even research to prove it, which I highly recommend reading.
You can construct tweets & updates that have no purpose, no greater message, no call to action. They’ll get retweeted. But does that give your business traction? Is anyone really paying attention? Or is it simply part of a paradigm that rewards competitive behavior? I, of course, would argue the latter.
Instead, starting a movement around a single ideal – even for entertainment, internet memes, FTW! – encourages others to build on the conversation. Develop a #hashtag around something you’re passionate about, use it, and watch others add their own emotional & intellectual wealth to the conversation.
Your output is valuable, sure. But the spontaneous conversation created around your output is exponentially more valuable. If that conversation is tied to a business and you leverage it for sales, your financial wealth increases. If that conversation is tied to a nonprofit and you leverage it for action, social wealth increases. There is greater value for you, your customers & compatriots, and those you all touch in the shared wealth than there is in the value of a single source output.
What I’m not suggesting is that we build other-focused cultures at the expense of profit. Sometimes, these cultures will impact profitability – or our ability to squeeze every last cent out of the business model. Businesses & anthropreneurs should be encouraged to profit – lots of it – as one simple indicator of the wealth they are building into the system.
Responsibility to generating all forms of wealth doesn’t negate your responsibility to generate a profit. And it will probably help.
Yes, building your own business is a big step towards you living a better, more fulfilled life. But to get there in the You Economy, you must begin with making the lives of others better. Unleash their human potential – they’ll help you unleash yours.
What’s your anthropreneur angle?
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