Find out how you can boil down your business to a few keywords.
As a small business owner, you may find yourself facing the same question over and over when networking: "What exactly do you do?"
You could give the long answer that you have ready for investors or loan officers, but that may overwhelm them and not really help you make a connection. Instead, prepare yourself by drilling down to the core of your business until you can identify four or five different descriptive words.
In theory, your five words could change based on who is asking for answers. For example, if the person you are talking to really wants to know why you do what you do rather than what you do, you need to have your brand values or your visionary words ready to go. If the person you are talking with falls within the parameters of your ideal customer, you need to have the customer benefits or unique value proposition at your disposal.
While it may seem like a lot of work to come up with just five words that encapsulate the entirety of your business, keep in mind that it is just a jumping off point. When you have these quick, clear and easy to digest words ready to go at the drop of a hat you will never find yourself fumbling through a long explanation again. Instead, you will prove that you know exactly how to position yourself and your business no matter the circumstances, and you will likely find yourself being prompted to tell the interested party even more about your business.
Every person has a core set of values, even if they have never articulated them as such. They build their life around these values, and each of their actions is centered around remaining true to them. These values could have been shaped by the person's religion, political affiliation, college, hometown or their strong identification with their job.
In much the same way, it is important to think of your business as being a living breathing entity of its own. Having these values to fall back on when you make a decision about how to proceed in a certain situation, what products or services to offer, or who to partner with it can make the decision-making process much easier.
Create your core values by identifying what values are most important when it comes to the big decisions. Is it being professional, eco-friendly, fiscally conservative, philanthropic or cutting-edge?
Choosing the five words that quickly and easily describe the customer benefits offered by your business is one of the best ways to ensure that a causal question has the potential to be transformed into an opportunity to cultivate a loyal new customer.
For example, if you create wedding stationary, your five words might be stunning, magical, memorable, romantic and timeless. You create stunning paper products to help cultivate a magical, romantic moment that will be both memorable and timeless.
Or, if you are a mechanic, your customer benefits might be phrases such as friendly customer care, comfortable waiting area, low prices, environmentally friendly and fast service.
Knowing the core benefits you provide a customer who chooses to entrust you with their business makes it easy to describe what you have to offer them and exactly why they will be better off for choosing you.
Vision for the Business
It is important to be able to clearly define where you are going, not just where you are. What is your vision for your business? Do you want to reach a certain level of profitability so you are better able to support a favorite charity? Do you want to expand globally to reach a larger audience and have a more substantial impact? Think about where you want your business to be or how you want it to operate, over the next several decades and find the words that clearly bring that image to life.
Perhaps you are the sole proprietor of a small business but you want to, one day, help women in remote areas of the world earn a living. One of your words could be empowerment. Or maybe you are a small business owner and you hope to build something that will positively impact your community for generations to come. One of your words may be community. For these five words, you are truly limited only by your own imagination and ability to dream of a brighter future.
Remember when choosing your words for these categories that there is no right or wrong answer. There is only what is right or wrong for you and your business. Also remember that these words do not have to define your business for the next generation. Just as your personality, experience and knowledge evolves with age, so too can the five words you choose to describe your business.