Here’s an exercise that could dramatically improve the success potential of your business: answer the question,
What business am I in?
But there’s a catch: you’re not allowed to answer the question in terms of the products or services you deliver or the activities you perform to deliver them.
So, if you’re a former publishing industry executive turned jewelry designer, you’re not allowed to answer,
I design and sell custom jewelry.
If you’re a faculty member in the social studies department of a public school, you’re not allowed to answer,
I teach social studies.
If you’re the shooting guard for the New York Knicks, you’re not allowed to answer,
I play basketball.
Instead, try answering the question in terms of the outcomes you create for your customers.
Defining the business you’re in in terms of products or services or activities isn’t wrong. But it’s not particularly helpful, and it’s not particularly inspiring. Products and services and activities don’t paint vivid pictures of outcomes for customers. And a belief in outcomes is all that really matters to customers and potential customers.
Go ahead, try it. (If you’re especially brave, put your answer in the comment box below.)