Define Who You Are: Then Do it Again

If someone shoved a camera in your face and asked you to describe your business, what would you say?

If your response is: “We’re a long-term care pharmacy”; that’s a start. Most people have never heard of a long-term care pharmacy and would only have a vague idea of what you’re talking about. If you answer “We’re a nursing home pharmacy” that might make more sense, but would it be accurate? Do you serve assisted living residents or residents of group homes? Seems more than just nursing homes.

Defining Your Business is Critical to Success

Defining who you are is not the same as defining who you want to be. That comes next, but there are practical reasons why you need to get a clear idea of who you are, what sets you apart, and why your customers do business with you.  It’s entirely likely that the view from your customers’ eyes is different from your view. Knowing who you are, warts and all, keeps us from having unhealthy illusions.

Defining Your Business Takes Work

This process is not easy. We tend to look for validation (my, aren’t you good looking) rather than truth. We need to constantly validate our hypotheses and learn to cherish people who tell us what we need to hear, rather than what we want to hear.

How to Start

The first step is relatively painless. Ask your employees to write a one-sentence statement that describes your company’s business.  Be prepared for some surprises, but take it as an opportunity to engage the people you work with. You can go further and ask what the company’s strengths are and what are its shortcomings. In order to elicit candid responses, let the answers be anonymous.

Dig Deeper

This part is harder. Go talk to your customers and ask them the same question. “How would you describe my business?” Be prepared for some answers you may not want to hear. A customer who will tell you the truth is worth his/her weight in gold.

If you have one follow-up question, try this: ” If I went out of business tomorrow, who would you use?”  If the same name keeps coming up, your next objective should be obvious.

Up Next:  Defining The Business You Want to Become?

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