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The Four WP Pillars and Foundation of YOUR Business

Four WP Pillars and Foundation of Your Business

No business stands still. It either grows or atrophies. Now, there can be loads of contributing factors to your business expanding or wasting away so let’s keep it simple for now and focus on four “pillars” that I’ve dubbed “WP” and that need to be ‘right’ as they underpin any successful business.

1 Why?

This is “Why did you set up (or buy or merge your company with) this particular business?”

If the answer is purely financial opportunity, don’t be surprised if you hit obstacles as at some point that may seem insurmountable and not worth the effort/ aggro, because there will be no real underlying Passion that provides an overriding raison d’être to carry on with it through tough times. The old newspaper barons, for example, passionately fought tooth and nail to establish then keep their publications going and retain ownership through thick and thin, though very few newspapers were profitable. Instead they opened doors to segments of society, conferred standing in the community, recognition, and often a legacy – in short the things that money alone can’t buy. yet that passion got diluted/ eroded down through the generations and you be hard pushed to find a family-owned publication of any note nowadays…

2 What?

This is: “What is the Purpose of your business?”

  • What does it do uniquely or better than anybody else/ any other company, for whom?
  • Why is it needed, and by whom?
  • Why is it valued, by whom?
  • What is it worth/ what is its value to your ideal target audience?

If you can’t succinctly answer these to someone who’s never heard of you/ your company before, it’s going to be an uphill struggle to believably position yourself as anything but a commodity. And being seen as a commodity is not an even acceptable, let alone good, place to be,in anything but the most buoyant of markets – which we’re obviously NOT in currently.

3 Way?

The way is your Process.

Actually there will be several processes – creative, planning, production, sales and marketing, distribution, accounts – are just some of the many that spring to mind. And it was W Edwards Deming (he who played a huge part in getting the Japanese production industry and therefore that country’s economy off the ground after World War II) who said that a poor process will scupper any great idea or product (I’m probably mangling the quote but you get the idea). And just because a process works well to begin with, it’s by no means a ‘done deal’: you need to keep running PDCA(Plan-Do-Check-Act) against each to see how well it holds up and where/ how it can be improved.

4 Who?

This part about People is potentially multi-faceted too, and obviously includes partners, employees and suppliers amongst many more but, again let’s keep it simple and look at just two big areas:

  • Your target audience
  • Your competition

A target audience and its needs mature and markets evolve – are your offerings keeping pace with or even anticipating and meeting those needs almost or even (ideally) actually before they’re expressed? Or are you sticking with what you’ve always offered and suffering customer churn – in your case not because of bad or faulty goods or service but just because your customers have ‘outgrown’ you?

For example, much has been made in recent years of the innovations from Steve Jobs and Apple. You couldn’t have got help from a focus group with many of Apple’s creations because folk couldn’t conceive of these products’ capabilities until they were job-done (sorry, awful pun!) and laid out before them.

On the competitor side: Maybe you didn’t have much in the way of competition when you set out, or the nature of it has gradually changed. Even well established corporations can get this horrendously wrong – look at Kodak – for many, many years a tremendously successful company but boy! did it misjudge the impact of digital technology on its business… Kodak could have become part of the new wave of photography but it was too set in the way it saw itself and suffered the ultimate consequence of sticking its head i n the sand…

Change is the only constant…

…So we might as well embrace it if we want to remain in the game, enjoy it, and go for win-win-wins whenever possible. Keeping an eagle eye on the four pillars of your business means that when change starts occurring that will (or even could) threaten the growth of your business you will be able to identify the weak pillar and focus on it. Meanwhile, with the other three still strong, because of your vigilance, you should have time to adapt.

Your thoughts?

PS: See my review of “the chocolate conversation” here – A book well worth any leader/business owner reading, in my opinion :-)


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