How to Know When Your Business Focus Needs to Change

Business plans can be altered to fit the growth of your company. No company can be all things to all people. In fact, companies that try to please everyone all the time usually find themselves becoming less effective. Business history chronicles a long list of companies that tried to build on success by expanding in new directions — only to lose the focus that made them successful in the first place.

Whether you’re starting a business, growing a business, or turning a business around, think about what you do best and how you can build on that strong base.

If you’re having a hard time zeroing in on a description of what you do best, ask yourself this question: If your company closed down, what products, services, or attributes would customers miss most or have the hardest time replacing? Your answer unveils what makes your company and its offerings unique — and what things your company does best.

After you pinpoint where you excel, ask yourself how you do it. Your answer leads you right back to the list of key business capabilities.

Is your success tied tightly to your R&D? Or to the efficiency of your operations? The flawless systems that back your distribution and delivery? The quality of your management? The effectiveness of your organization? Your products or location? The power of your marketing and customer service? Or the strength of your financial condition?

Make a list of your answers. As you pursue growth opportunities, be careful that your expansion plans do nothing to weaken your company’s key capabilities or lead your company away from the strengths that got you where you are.

In your written plan, give special attention to the business capabilities that contribute most to your success and also to the capabilities that provide the greatest value to your customers. These capabilities represent the heart and soul of your company. They’re your strongest selling points as a company, and your business plan should include specific details about how you intend to make the most of each one.

Reevaluate how well you’re doing in these key areas on at least an annual basis — more frequently, if you sense opportunities to seize or threats to avert. And also take time to brainstorm new ways to build on your strengths and increase the overall value you provide to your customers.

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