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What we don't do is…

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Focus is a word that has entered my vocabulary fairly regularly in recent client conversations. That and 'habits'.

It seems to me that even though the UK economy has grown over the last couple of years, business leaders have developed the habit of doing anything for anyone at any price. This has become a habit from the recession years, and is one that is now out of date.

A tool that I use to break this habit is The Business Statement. It is like a mini mission statement for the business and clarifies:
• What we do
• Who we do it for
• How we do it

In essence, it defines what market segments and customers we want to work with. It asks us to analyse the problems those customers are facing and will face, in order to define our products and solutions. And then it asks us to clarify our model for delivering those solutions.

Growing up in the eighties, I remember the 'This is Anfield' sign for the players (both home and away) to see as they ran out onto the pitch when playing at Liverpool. In those days, Liverpool did not lose at home. It contained a powerful message for both teams. In the same way, I envisage businesses having The Business Statement prominently displayed with an equally powerful message for all stakeholders to see and adhere to.

It is a confident announcement of our belief in our solution.

However, there is another part to the Business Statement that says 'What we don't do is…'

This part is probably more important than the first part, because strategy only becomes really powerful when you clearly define the limits. If you simply state what you do, that leaves plenty of scope for people to do other things too. By stating what you don't do, there is much less freedom to bend the rules.

An example of this is not providing low quality, cheap equipment that is prone to failure and likely to result in higher servicing, at your cost not the customers.

The thing about habits is that they develop because they are beneficial. In times of recession, it is about survival and our solutions need to be different. But habits are subconscious and one way that an outside advisor can add value is by identifying those habits that are out of date and helping you focus on upgrading them.

As an advisor, what I don't do is agree with everything you say. My role is to challenge your thinking and help you focus on key issues.

As a business leader, you can add real value from being clear on what you, as a business, don't do.

Will Abbott
Partner, Head of Business Advisory
Randall & Payne LLP

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