How to Build an Exceptional Business

June 16, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

Are you looking to build an exceptional business?  From the book “What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business” by Harry Beckwith, here is a checklist of questions you need to ask from conceptualizing your business to servicing your customers.

First Principle

  • What really matters to us?
  • Where do we want to be in five years?
  • Never mind what we have done or others have done: What is possible?
  • What would clients think was remarkable?
  • If we were starting from scratch today, what would we do differently?
  • If we were competing against us, where would we attack us?

Adding Deeper Insight

  • Which 10 or 12 clients, friends, industry insiders or other individuals can give us the most insight about improving our business?

Getting to the White Hot Center

  • Who makes up the White Hot Center of our industry?
  • Which members do we have contact with? Which do we not?
  • What should we do to increase our influence with these people?

Getting the Key Clients

  • What 3-4 prospective and acquirable clients would have the most long-term impact on our business – as uniquely strong references?
  • How can we begin to convert them into clients?

Attacking our Industry’s Weakness

  • What is the greatest flaw in our industry, in the perception of prospects and clients?
  • What stereotype do outsiders have of people in our business?

Our Brand

  • Is our brand unique?
  • Is it vivid?
  • Is it simple?
  • Does it communicate a clear and powerful message, in the way we most want and need to communicate?
  • Is it inviting?

Our Name

  • Is our name distinctive?
  • Is it memorable?
  • Is it brief enough to be processed and remembered?
  • Does it express or imply an important message?
  • Does the value and equity of our current name outweigh the value of changing it to a more powerful and useful name?
  • Can it be pronounced easily, even musically?
  • Will most people have to ask how to spell it? If so, can you easily explain how to spell it?
  • Is it short?
  • Does it have the unique traits to make it memorable – is it unique, sensory, and outstanding?
  • Is it interesting? Does it have “story value”?
  • Is it authentic? Is it who we really are?
  • Can our employees say the name proudly?
  • Does it set the right tone?
  • Is it different enough from competitors’ names?
  • Is it acceptable to virtually every important prospect?
  • Does it make some people uneasy?
  • Is it rich with meaning? Does it imply more than one positive message?

Our Price

  • What does our price communicate about the value of our work?
  • Is our pricing absolutely clear?
  • Is it so simple a prospect understands it immediately?

Our Package: The Visual Audit

Look at every point where our prospects come into contact with us – from business cards and signage to attire and envelopes:

  • Does each contact make a strong impression?
  • Does each say, “This firm is special”?
  • Does each contact clearly convey a sense of quality and professionalism?
  • Are the messages at each point consistent with each other?

Our Communications

  • Are our messages brief and to the point?
  • Does every word count – or are there unnecessary and wasted words?
  • Do we immediately convey our point of difference?
  • Do we clearly and convincingly communicate the distinctive benefit of working with us?
  • Do we provide strong proof for each of our claims?
  • If the person never reads of a word of the message, does the communication still convey a sense of quality?
  • Does the reader feel engaged by the copy? Does it speak to him and his wants and needs – or do we talk too much about ourselves?

Our Presentations

  • Do our images, by themselves, convey an unmistakable sense of quality and professionalism?
  • Is each slide necessary? Does each one deliver its message better than words alone can?
  • Are slides kept to a minimum, so that our audience will focus on our people rather than on our slides?
  • Does each image convey no more than three succinct points?
  • Can any point be made in half as many words?
  • Are the images interesting yet appropriate?
  • Are the words engaging and interesting?
  • Is our presentation about the client and his needs – or is it about us?
  • Is the presentation compelling without being immodest?
  • Is our presentation human, warm, inviting and personal? Are there moments where it is too institutional?
  • Are our testimonials powerful and believable?
  •  Do we use stories to make our message clearer and more interesting?

Our Service

  • Are 20 percent of our clients thrilled with us?
  • Are all but 10 percent of our clients very pleased with us, and what do we do for them?
  • Is our receptionist warm, welcoming and optimistic?
  • Do we return calls or follow-up on contacts in near real time?
  • Do we follow-up every contact with a prospect or client within 24 hours?
  • Do we have a regular and closely followed program for thanking clients and prospects at least once a year?
  • Are we doing something special for our loyal clients at least once a year?
  • Do each of our special clients clearly know they are special to us?
  • When we make a promise to a client, do we make sure to put it in writing so we will know what we have promised and what to do – and they will know exactly what to expect from us, and when?

Recommended Books on How to Build an Exceptional Business:

 Excerpt from the book What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business by Harry Beckwith (Warner Books, 2003)

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