6 Focus Areas of a Profitable Business

In May of 2008 I went to the Olympics of Graphic Communication trade shows in Dusseldorf Germany called drupa. The show comes only once every 4 years and it's 14 days long. Fourteen days of trade showing is A LOT of time on your feet, listening and sharing information! I needed a way to organize myself and in the back of my brain I developed a simple framework that has been getting stronger and stronger each day since then.

I began to hone a particular business mindset that frames much of what I see and do in business today. I believe it's worth sharing because I have found others have benefited from it and I'm looking to make it stronger and welcome input to any and all of it.

Below are six areas of business that can be used to organize yourself in your own business or you could even use it as a filter to look at your customer's business too!

6 Focus Areas of a Profitable Business

  1. Strategy: This is all about where you are and where you want to go. It's the high level look to help you work ON your business even though we typically spend the day-to-day working IN the business.
    • Does the current direction align with where you want to be?
    • Does the current direction align with current customer needs?
    • Does the current direction align with new customer needs?
    • If so, how's it going, where are the roadblocks?
    • If not, how come? What will it take to move in that direction?
  2. Product/Service Offering: As an organization you DO something. This represents the products/services you offer to keep the customers you have and obtain new ones.
    • What one product/service do you sell the most of? Why? Is it profitable enough? Does it lead to more profitable business?
    • What is the most profitable product/service you offer? Least profitable? What are you doing to align your marketing and selling efforts to sell more of this?
    • If you could add any product or service not currently offered what would it be? Why? How does it align with current customer/new customer needs?
    • What are you doing to find out if what you deliver to your customer meets/exceeds their needs?
    • What else does your customer need (not know they need) that you could be offering?
  3. Marketing: Represents the processes by which you identify what people want and lets them know you have it for them.
    • Do you actively identify and continue to find out what customers and prospects want? 
    • Do you follow a process as you do it? Is it measurable? Is it repeatable? If you do, do you take the time to review and improve it?
    • How do people who don't know you/your organization hear about you?
    • What are the perceptions of what you do for your customer?
    • Have you considered using a marketing approach to review and help your customer with their business?
  4. Sales: Creating business transactions that gives people/organizations what they want or didn't know they could have.
    • Do you have a sales process? Why/why not?
    • Is it measurable? Is it repeatable? Do you take the time to review and improve it?
    • What is the most successful way you/your organization interacts with a customer for the first time?
    • What channel do you use (direct mail, web based, face to face, phone, etc.) and what do you say? How does it change as a suspect becomes a prospect and then a customer?
    • How do you get to what makes your organization more profitable/successful?
  5. Workflow: Represents the people, processes and technology working together to enable profitable work to happen. This is how you create, develop, build and improve what it is that you DO for your customers.
    • Do you have a process to identify the bottlenecks in your existing workflow? Why/why not? If you do, what do you do about it once you find them?
    • What holds you back from doing more in less time at less cost?
    • What could you spend (time and/or money) and be more efficient at the work you do?
    • How can you use this thinking to go after business from your customer? What if you made their workflow "better?" What would it take to make it happen?
  6. Finance: Represents the cost of doing business, the tracking of time, money and resources to make it happen as well as the ability to report on the profit/loss of the organization.
    • How do you track the costs of operation?
    • How do you set pricing?
    • How do you set/interact with the budgets for each area of the business?
    • Is there a documented process, is it measurable and repeatable?
    • What, if any, investment is made in the development of future success?

Think of each as a frame by which you can look into your business, or any business for that matter and identify what is working and what isn't. Although you may think like this, do all the employees think about all six of these even though they may only work in one of them?

If we used this type of business mindset think about the benefits of a more holistic look at what gets done, isn't getting done or isn't being done well. This could help justify the change each and every organization needs to do every day to be successful.

What do you think of this list? What would you add, take away, do better? I'd like to know, please tell me.

~Keep the learning going, pass it on!