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How to Describe Your Business

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff

Find out how you can boil down your business to a few keywords.

  • Your business description is an essential marketing tool that allows your clients to understand what you do.
  • Your business description should articulate your brand values.
  • Always capture the solution you are providing the market when describing your business.

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 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 to falls within the parameters of your ideal customer, you need to have the customer benefits or unique value proposition at the ready. 

While it may seem like a lot of work to come up with just five words that encapsulate your entire business, keep in mind that it is just a jumping-off point. When you have these quick, clear and easily digestible words ready to go, 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 the interested party prompting you to tell them even more about your business. 

Brand values

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 centers on remaining true to them. These values could have been shaped by the person's religion, political affiliation, college, hometown or 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 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?

Customer benefits

Choosing the five words that quickly and easily describe the customer benefits your business offers is one of the best ways to transform a casual question into an opportunity to cultivate a loyal new customer. 

For example, if you create wedding stationery, your five words might be "stunning," "magical," "memorable," "romantic" and "timeless." You create stunning paper products to help make a magical, romantic event that will be both memorable and timeless. 

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 entrusts 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 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 help women in remote areas of the world earn a living one day: One of your words could be "empowerment." Or maybe you are a small business owner and 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 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 can the five words you choose to describe your business.

Examples of business descriptions

Here are a few examples of business descriptions that have been successful for established companies. The following descriptions are creative and engaging:

"At Shutterfly, Inc., our vision is to make the world a better place by helping people share life's joy. Through our portfolio of premium lifestyle brands – Shutterfly, Tiny Prints, Wedding Paper Divas, BorrowLenses, MyPubisher, and Groovebook – our mission is to deepen your personal connections with the people who matter most with unique, personalized photo products. We enrich the lives of millions by inspiring you to be creative in how you preserve your memories and share your stories. Our brands share a common vision that allows us to help you make memorable moments last a lifetime. Together, we are Shutterfly, Inc."

"USAA provides insurance, banking, investments, retirement products and advice to more than 11 million members. We're known for our legendary commitment to our members, and are consistently recognized for outstanding service, financial strength and employee well-being."

"Starbucks: Our story began in 1971. Back then we were a roaster and retailer of whole bean and ground coffee, tea and spices with a single store in Seattle's Pike Place Market. Today, we are privileged to connect with millions of customers every day with exceptional products and more than 30,000 retail stores in 80 markets."

Image Credit: julief514 / Getty Images
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business.com editorial staff
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