November 30, 2023

A business is what a business does – part 1

If this is what matters to a prospect or customer:

Then a business is really what it does.

Actually, most things are really what they do. A bus that isn’t picking up passengers is just a metal sitting room. Knitting needles that aren’t knitting are just sticks.

And for a business the obvious next questions are “What’s the Promise?”.

It’s not:

  • your product.
  • your service.
  • your vision, or your mission or your goal.

It’s how you uniquely go about giving the people you serve what they really want:

  • Agency – to make their own ‘me-shaped’ dent in the universe.
  • Mastery – to learn and master (even teach) new skills.
  • Autonomy – to be free to choose how they make their dent.
  • Purpose – to do this for something bigger than themselves, that has meaning beyond the purchase.
  • Community – to do all this with ‘people like us’, and so make a ‘we-shaped’ dent in the universe.
    • Status – to know (and for others to know) where we stand in our communities.

through your product or service.

Or, to put it another way, how you:

help you become the person you want to be, in a way that is completely congruent with your values, beliefs and style, so that you can join the tribe that feels like home for you, with the status you seek.”

This Promise is far less changeable than you might think. It captures the essence of what your business is here to do for the kind of people you serve – and nobody else. That essence doesn’t change much over time. Your kind of people are your kind of people wherever, whenever and however they are. What you’re about is what you’re about.

What must change is how you package your Promise to suit what your kind of people need here and now for the specific situations they find themsleves in. That’s where you get down to the specifics of how your Promise is made manifest.

So what this means is that, if you’re going to build a business that mirrors what matters to a customer, you’re going to have to add two more activities in front of the ones prospects and clients experience:

This, then, is the core of what every business does. The process every business runs for the people it serves.

But this still isn’t enough to create a successful form. There’s no real interaction between the business and its external environment. No feedback that can tell you where and how to adapt your business to changing times and changing needs.

For that, you need to add another process, that runs in parallel with this one.

More on that in the next post.