Category Archive Business mission

What Matters In Business For Successful Start-Ups

What makes a successful company in a market? Is probably the single biggest question a new start-up team must be able to answer. What factors make a successful business has always been a difficult question to answer.

The answer has always depended upon who is asking the question.

Dreamers look for unicorns with unique protectable offerings, such as Intellectual Protectable rights, a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

Traditional funders, such as banks want high returns with low risks and owners who will take all the risk either directly or being prepared to 100% underwrite the banks so called investment. This logical shift has its own problems. Risk reduction by definition reduces opportunity, in essence if you remove all the risk you also remove all the opportunity.


Entrepreneurs genuinely look at solving an emerging problem, the old adage is:-

“The secret of success is to find a need and fill it, to find a hurt and heal it, to find somebody with a problem and offer to help solve it.” – Robert H. Schuller

While the logical approach of bankers is to ride an existing market wave, true entrepreneurs look to create the wave. They are looking at a problem and identifying the ideal innovative solution for that problem’s resolution.

Researching Successful Businesses

So what makes a successful business model includes a whole variety of factors including the core idea, the experienced team, the market opportunity, market access, competition, scalability (the list goes on and on, depending upon who you are talking with) and what resonates with key stakeholders and target audiences.

Recently Bill Gross, CEO of Idealab decided to research this using his extensive range of business start-ups; 100 of his own, and matched by another 100, across a whole range of sectors.  His assessment started by analysing what makes successful businesses. He came across 5 key common factors and he cross-referenced those compared to businesses which have succeeded.

Bill Cross’s 5 key areas a successful business has to have include:-

  1. The Idea: defined and coherent.
  2. The Team:  skills, experience, energy and how well connected.
  3. The Business Model:  comprehensive worked through covering the business need.
  4. The Funding – access to the right amount of money to achieve its core goals.
  5. The Timing – identifying the market timing to meet target audience needs.

The research results contradicted what many thought would be the results across the 200 companies he and his team analysed, which include global names such as Airbnb, Youtube and LinkedIn.

Success in Business Relies Upon…

Timing is THE common factor in a successful business at 42%. It is the most common trait of successful company start-ups.

Team came in 2nd, with 32% and the idea only came 3rd in importance with 28%.  The business model, upon which so many advisors focus their attention was 4th at 24% and the funding came in 5th at 14%.

Ideas wrongly are not as important as timing. Timing, the driving strategic factors identified through PESTEL analysis are actually the bottomline in driving the success factor for a business.  PESTEL factors set the macro landscape a business operates and defines the timing of its launch. If the landscape is favourable then a business can succeed. I not, then even if everything else looks great then your chances are far lower, than if you get your timing right.

This shift from build and they will come, the old motto of every good idea, qualifies that statement by saying if the time is right then if you build it they will come.

Impact for Start-Up Leadership Team

Leadership teams need to focus on answering the question their target customers ask, now. Timing is offering the solution the their customers will pay for today, not waiting for it or putting with second best. If you can answer their needs when they need it. Then you are on the first rung to find success. Without good timing you are creating products and services no-one (or not enough people want). Timing is equally important for leadership teams to assess if your product / service can be accessed by the target audience.

See Bill Gross, CEO of Idealab Ted talk here:-

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Customers have choice by Richard Gourlay , Cowden Consulting.

Are you on a MISSION or just a dreamer?

One of the most important pieces of any good business plan is to define what you do and where you are going as a business. If you do not define what you do and where you are going then why should people work with you or for you? Defining your purpose as a business is the clearest statement of intent any director or owner of a business can make, and yet one of the most misunderstood and avoided pieces of any business plan. This is the mission statement which everyone in a company should be able to relate to and believe in.

Why is it avoided? In my experience directors are most often frightened of making a commitment of what they stand for so as not to alienate any existing or potential customers who may not fit the proposed mission statement. This contradiction, not wanting to say what the primary goal of a business or organisation is, means that many company’s try to be everything to everyone, ending up being meaningless to everyone.

Mission Failure

This failure to define a mission is also one of the biggest limitations companies and organizations have in creating clear blue water between them and other players in their market. It is why so many companies struggle to stand out and then expect someone in marketing to try to answer that question sometime later. Marketing does not define the purpose of any business or organization, they may influence it, but it takes leadership from the top for a mission statement to be successful.

Missions fail if they are not believed in by the employees and customers, or experienced in how an organisation looks to deliver its products and services. They are not just slogan on a wall or a website.


Mission Statement

A good mission statement is clear, unambiguous, engaging and relevant to all its key audiences: namely its leadership, senior management, employees, shareholders and customers. A mission and a vision (but more of that later) provides a central definition of what a business or organization delivers.

Creating a Successful Mission Statement

Here’s a quick-step guide to creating a mission statement.

  1. First identify your organization’s “strategic advantage” what makes you successful. This is the idea or approach that makes your organization stand out from its competitors; the reason that customers prefer you and not your competitors, what makes you unique, what are your core competencies?
  2. Secondly, identify the key measures of your success. Key success measures by which you can measure, Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), typically pick 3 to 5 headline measures of performance.
  3. Thirdly combine your strategic advantage and success measures (KPI’s) into tangible and measurable goal.
  4. Define the wording, using clear language, until you have a concise and precise statement of your mission, which expresses your ideas, measures, and desired result.
  5. Now communicate the mission statement effectively so everyone owns the mission statement within the company, make it public and ensure it is owned from the top with passion.

Communicating mission statements effectively to everyone is a defining piece of making the mission live. After all the hard work in having one so often they are filed away, or framed and stuck on the wall and forgotten. Instead successful Mission statements are launched to everyone and owned.

I’ve run embedding program within companies to ensure that everyone inside businesses and organizations “own” the Mission and build it into their everyday activity.

If you don’t follow through then all the effort is wasted and the opportunity is lost, so remember to focus on making your mission statement memorable and relevant. The leadership also needs to own the mission statement and make it live throughout the company.

A Mission Creates Loyalty

If you do this businesses and companies can achieve significant improvements which can include: building higher loyalty from staff, higher levels of customer service; improved stakeholder and channel support and lower costs for winning new higher value customers. These are just some examples of the benefits from having and using a mission statement successfully at the front end, one other major advantage is that you have a foundation upon which to build your business plan.

Good Luck: Want to develop your growth plan, use my business planning tool kit, click here to Take the guess work out of your business success   or click this link to learn how to greta your own business strategy:-

Strategy: The Leader's Role by Richard Gourlay , a book for business leaders to learn how to develop and deploy their business success

Strategy: The Leader’s Role by Richard Gourlay

Richard Gourlay


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Do YOU have a Plan for Growth?

Do you have a plan for GROWTH? 

Leadership is most often identified as someone with a clear vision to grow their organisation, of where it is to where you want it to be within its market. By definition, that means looking for and finding growth.  All leaders must focus on looking for growth and development of their organisation if leadership is going to be seen as successful. But many leaders do not have a plan for growth within their organisation.

Leaders need a plan for growth

Do you have a clear vision of where you are going to take your business?  From understanding the market and its direction to where your business needs to be within those sectors, to profit from the growth within the market.  Leaders need to be strategically aware of their market if they are to find and focus on growth within their organisation.
Leaders must also redesign their organisation so that it can take advantage of growth opportunities, redesigning how a business operates to increase turnover and / or profits is at the heart of ensuring a leadership team has plan for growth.  Revitalising the sales and marketing operations is at the heart of acquiring more clients and developing improved relationship structures with customers and channel partners.
With a plan for growth leadership teams can reduce the amount of down time and focus their efforts on driving your business forward, with a clear vision of where you are going and why.  Successful businesses develop strategic plans to move their business forward, to grow and succeed, while being in control.
The first role af any owner or director is to have a plan, from star-up onwards (not for the banks) but for you to own and deliver. That plan needs to be kept alive, fresh and driven to focus on success and succeeding.

GROWTH needs a Strategy

strategy is a researched approach by the leadership team, supported by a detailed plan of continual action steps to get the organisation to where you want it to be. The reason strategies are so vital is they keep things moving, and in business, if you are not going forward, you’re going backwards, and that can happen very fast.  So, if you want your business to be successful and/or pay you more, having a strategy that focuses on growth is a must!
If you have no formal strategy to take your business to the next level you need to refocus your priorities right now to create growth, here’s the first stage of a growth strategy framework:

Create a clear vision of what you want to achieve:

There’s an old saying that you can’t hit a target you can’t see. Well your vision is your target. Your vision needs to be very clear in terms of what you want from your business, by turnover, profit, customer type or all three? What’s your ideal position in that market, do you want to be known as the premier supplier of your product or service, or a low cost or niche player?
What about your personal goals to support your lifestyle?  You need to be very clear about what you want and what you don’t want. Have a clear focus that will keep you aligned with your long term goal for you and your business. Make your vision aspirational, where do you want your business to be within the net 3 to 5 years? What will it look like and what will the business feel like to be part of?

Looking for Growth

Starting with a clear vision for growth within a business is the simplest and most powerful way a leader can motivate everyone. Growth is about understanding the drivers of growth within your business sector.  Knowing where a market is going requires leaders to step out of the day-to-day operational detail and focusing on the drivers of your market.
Growth is fundamental to a successful company. Finding growth does not mean just looking for growth in turnover, growth in profitability is by far the most valuable growth any leader can find. Growth can also be found in winning new market entrants; cross selling penetration to existing customers; launching  innovative products and services or premium pricing of scarce products.  Other profitable ways to grow your business include driving demand of premium and unique products, where your business has or can create a competitive advantage.
Like to learn more about creating growth for your business, then get in touch with us through the links below.
Cowden Consulting provides Strategic Planning Workshops which enable owners to create their vision of what they want to achieve. Our SPW faciliated workshops provide the opportunity for owners to work on their business not in their business. To learn more about Strategic Planning Workshops (SPW’s) or contact us by clicking Cowden Consulting to discuss your needs, or go to our website to learn more about us.
Like to learn how to find growth for your business? Then why not buy the book on how to build your successful business strategy, with the step-by-step guide on how to build your own business strategy, click the book below to buy now.
Strategy The Leader's Role By Richard Gourlay

Strategy: The Leader’s Role by Richard Gourlay, a book fo how you can create your business strategy, with all the tools a business leader needs to build their business strategy.

Learn more click here to read more about Richard Gourlay 

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The power of WHY to consumers

The power of WHY to consumers

Will they BUY?

In the old days people used to buy what companies did, what they made, where they sold it and bought what they promoted. That was the age of big marketing and sales budgets, when big adverts worked, by driving demand through pushing products down channels, offering promotion and celebrity endorsement to generate business.
The age of the Unique Selling Proposition “we are special because…..” so you will buy! It was the 1980 and 1990’s so the world did as it was told: “we make what you want because we tell you want you want because we know about your needs”.
That mindset existing when choice was limited (if there was any choice at all) and led to big brands consumers trusted without question.

Honest is essential

Then ethics came into play. As the internet began its infancy, so the power of globalisation was laid bare by the internet. People asked more about how companies did things? Where were products sourced and how they were made became important to consumers. Why were the premium footballs, such as those which David Beckham kicked, being made by blind children in India for a few rupees. Why were the clothes models wore being made in sweat shops where workers earned less than for a dollar a day?
The internet changed how the media could communicate, explaining how household names operated and could afford those huge marketing budgets. This forced companies to change their practises (not their policies though) by educating and fighting back against the likes of Naomi Wolfs’ No Logo expose for example.
How business operated mattered, and so in response companies upped their awareness of their social impact and visibility through corporate social responsibility. How people did things mattered not just when the likes of Bhopal and Exxon Valdez disasters struck, but in everyday life.
Fair-trade has become a household name in consumer goods, with high street stores vying for credibility of having an ethical policy.  Supporting local goods and having transparent policies of how businesses operate matter in consumer decision making. This gives more confidence but leaves companies open to further scrutiny and often to unsatisfactory answers to vital key questions.  Not at least within developing countries, who are now the fastest growing markets for many brands.

Why! – should I buy from you?

The biggest question which consumers and business now asks people is why businesses are doing these things.  Everyone has become so empowered with information sources that people want to buy the WHY, not the what. Buyers want to understand the ethics of the company and importantly the people behind the decisions being taken. Customers want to know that these decisions accurately reflect the real cultural and values that company has, not just the marketing hype, which the brand portrays. Today this is the real power of consumers to interrogate and validate brands as to their genuine credentials.
What’s the real purpose of the company, who and what is driving it and what does it really believe in and stand for. No longer is a small donation to a local charity enough to say it supports the community, customers want to know how much, who gets involved, is it company wide and deep or just a year end tax saving.
What do the decision makers really value, their life story, their values really matter, and how they treat all their people now determines as much if not more in buyers minds than the value the products communicate.
In fact the world has changed completely, confidence comes not from what you say but why you are saying it. The educated and informed world means that it is not just politicians who have seen their reputation tarnished but any business in any sector who does not explain their why factor. No matter what sector you are in, sustaining your reputation is essential and never more so than in explaining why you are in business and why you matter to consumers.

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