The Key Business Structure is a framework to add structure to your ideas.
By filling out this questionnaire, you'll get a better understanding of what you need and don't need to get your idea up and running. You can create your key business structure for a personal or business idea and use this structure for any type of project—big or small. Oh and one more thing, this structure is timeless! Big companies like Nike, Coca-Cola and Apple have been using these same structures to help them get to where they're today, so if they can use them, why not you?
"Freedom Comes from Structure" -Unknown
Note: Take a few days to answer these questions. I highly recommend writing your answers down on paper; not on your cellphone, computer or in your mind. Actually, take the time to think about the question and allow yourself to think freely when writing down your answers.
Once you complete the questionnaire, leave a day or two in between. Then go back and review your answers, make edits, and highlight what stands out for you. You will see how the answers you have been looking for all along are right in front of you.
The Key Business Structure is Composed of Two Parts and Five P's
Part One: The 4 P’s of Marketing:
Part Two: The 1 P of Business
Part One Questions: The 4 P's of Marketing
The "4 Ps of Marketing" often referred to as the marketing mix is a tool you can use to promote and sell your products or services. It answers the questions of what you're selling, how much you're selling it for, where you're selling it, and how you're letting people know about it.
- What is your product(s) or service(s)?
- What challenges does your product/services help solve?
Always start with the product. Describe the features, benefits, brand, packaging, customer service, and all the details that make your product or service unique
- What is your price?
Your price is your competitive weapon and is key to your business because it's directly tied to revenue! and how much money you're going to make (or save) with your idea. It's the most flexible of all the P's and the quickest to change. It's also very powerful because it communicates your brand and positioning, and people will automatically associate your idea with something known to them based on your price.
- How do you deliver your product(s) or service(s)?
- Where is your business located?
- What's your distribution plan?
Basically how and where your customers will get your product or service. Is it online? in-person? both? Here you have to think about location, availability, times, supply chain, and everything related to the placement and distribution of your idea.
- How do you promote your product(s) or service(s?
- How do you let people know about your product(s) or service(s)?
Here is where you put your creativity to work and think about promotion ideas for advertising, public relations, sales promotion, events, personal selling, social media, word of mouth, etc., to let people know your idea exists and why they should buy it.
You may be asking yourself, should I answer these questions in order? If you want, but you don't have to. The 4 Ps of marketing is a mix, combination or blend of different marketing elements; therefore, the creation of your mix should follow what the name refers to.
I do recommend starting with the product because that will help you come up with the other answers easier, but once you have your product, a.k.a your idea, more fleshed out, you can get to work on the other Ps.
So you're done, right? Your idea is now a fully formed product with a price tag, a placement strategy, and a promotion plan. So you're ready to fly and make tons of money. Not so much, unfortunately.
By creating your marketing mix, your idea is becoming more realistic, but the 4 Ps is just one portion of your key business structure—a very important portion, but not the only portion.
No big, strong, leafy tree became like that out of nowhere. For a tree to grow beautiful and strong and stand the test of time and bad weather, the tree must have a strong foundation. The same principle applies to your idea. You must have a strong foundation, and that foundation, you will find it in one place: PEOPLE.
Strategic planning in marketing is the process of developing a long-term plan that outlines a business's overall marketing goals, objectives, and strategies. It involves:
- Analyzing the human capital
- Understanding the target audience
- Studying the environment
- Creating a roadmap
Part Two Questions: The 1 P of Business
And all these fancy, business terms can be simplified by learning about people and understanding how to connect with them. You need to evaluate your idea through the lenses of four different types of people.
- Leader(s), so you!
- Target audience, so your customers, buyers, clients, bosses, stakeholders, etc.
- Partners, so your support system, team, tech stack, etc.
- Competitors, so your target audience's second choice
Questions for the Leader
The only person who should be answering these questions is you, the leader of your idea. Not your family, friends, or your boss. You have an idea, so you should lead that idea. It includes five elements:
- What is your identity?
- What is your current market positioning?
What would you like your positioning to be in the future? Positioning refers to the place that a brand occupies in the minds of the customers and how it is distinguished from the products of the competitors. For example, luxury, most innovative, cutting-edge, cheap, safe, etc.
For the next three questions, feel free to elaborate as much as you would like
- Past: What's your story? What have you done that has gotten you to this point?
- Present: Why do you want to invest time and effort into your idea now? What is the current motivation? Why are you entertaining this idea now?
- Future: What do you want your idea’s legacy to be? What is your vision?
Questions for the Target Audience
An idea, a business pitch, a thought, a role, etc. exists with the purpose of being shared with someone else, so now you have to define who is that someone.
- Who is your audience? You can describe your current customers and clients, and/or you can describe your desired audience
- What are their demographics? Like age, gender, income, location, education, etc.
- What is their psychographics? Like interests, values, personality traits, lifestyle choices, etc.
- What is their behavior? Like buying habits, product usage, and decision-making processes
- What do they think about you? What's their feedback?
Questions for the Partners
Find people, companies, and technology that can help you develop your idea. You can't do it all on your own. Working together with people who align with your values and visions BUT have different skills and expertise, will accelerate the process in a positive way.
- Who are your partners? You can list past or current partnerships that have made an impact on your business in a positive or negative way
- What are your weak areas, and what type of partner can help you overcome them?
- What specific skills and expertise am I looking for in a partner, and how can they complement my own skills and expertise?
- What kind of financial resources and investment are you willing to contribute to the partnership?
- What are their long-term career and business goals, and how do they align with yours?
Questions for the Competitors
I don't want you to think about your competitors as your enemy, but as your target audience's second choice. By doing so, your mindset changes from an alert and protective mode to a curious, open-minded mode to study that person, thing, or company that can help your audience if you don't do a good job.
Study direct AND indirect competitors. An indirect competitor offers a product/service that is in a different category altogether but is seen as an alternative purchase choice. For example, coffee and water are indirect competitors.
- Who are your main competitors in the market, and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
- What products or services do they offer, and how are they different from my own?
- What is their pricing strategy, and how does it compare to my own pricing strategy
- What advertising strategies are they using?
- What kind of reputation do they have in the market, and how can I differentiate my business to stand out from them?
Overall, strategic planning is a critical process that helps you create a roadmap for success by aligning your 4 Ps of marketing with your overall idea.
Again, take a few days to answer these questions. I highly recommend writing down your answers. Then, take a day or two to let your answers sink in and go back, review, and make edits until you get a good feeling about the structure of your idea.
What to do with this information? Put it to use!
This is the framework that is going to take your idea from something like this 🍃 to something like 🌳. It's not going to happen overnight, and there are going to be changes—A LOT of changes—just as the leaves of trees change according to the seasons of the year.
But as every new season comes and goes and every new year comes and goes, your idea will get stronger and stronger, and bigger and bigger, making a reality what you imagined on that very first day 💜.