If you are in a specific business, it might be a good idea to actually perform said business.

Most businesses have “mission statements”, “corporate visions”, formal “business models” and plans, or even written “value propositions”. These tightly crafted statements tell themselves and the world what it is they do. Or want to achieve.

I like business plans, but shudder seeing “mission statements”, “corporate visions”, and “value propositions”. Why?

If most companies put as much effort into customer service as developing airy-fairy, feel-good statements, business would be good. But typically they do not.

And usually world domination is involved. No, I am serious.

Case in point. 

Vision Versus Reality

From the Canada Post website:

Canada Post will be a world leader in providing innovative physical and electronic delivery solutions, creating value for our customers, employees and all Canadians.

See, world domination is indeed part of their vision.

Today I am waiting for a expedited parcel to be delivered by Canada Post. Have been here all morning. Imagine my surprise when I check the tracking number online and find that it was successfully delivered this morning.

So I call Canada Post, go through various menu options, punch in the tracking number, and find that it has indeed been successfully delivered. I punch more numbers until I track down a live body. Nice lady. Explains patiently to me that often parcel deliverers do not possess scanners. So they scan “successfully delivered” at the depot before beginning their deliveries.

I patiently explain that this method ignores the fact that the parcel has yet to be delivered, successfully or not. And while I grant that “successfully delivering” a parcel before it has even left the Canada Post depot is indeed an “innovative … delivery solution”, I am not sure it is “creating value” for me.

Fortunately, this already successfully delivered parcel may arrive sometime before 8:00 p.m. this evening. Or it may not. So it appears I may have a few hours to create some of my own value (perhaps that is what Canada Post means?).

And, of course, no one can track its status because the transaction has been successfully completed. Innovation, yes. Current technology, no (but, to be fair, the corporate vision makes no mention of productive tools).

I also explain that if Canada Post is in the delivery business they probably should spring for scanners for all parcel delivery staff. If Canada Post employs a mechanism to track deliveries, it might be useful to create a system that actually works. In other words, one that meets customer needs.

I deal with FedEx and UPS continuously. Have never seen a delivery person without a scanner. I can hear the nice lady chipping my comment into a hard stone slab, so I think it has been recorded for consideration in future corporate visions.

What’s My Point?

Well, besides a mini-rant?

If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, feel free to develop formal mission statements, value propositions, corporate visions, et al.

But it is much more important to actually understand the true needs of your clients. What can you create and deliver that meets these needs? The product or service need not be cutting edge or require huge amounts of capital.

Know who your competitors are and how they operate. Adopt their successful traits. Avoid their unsuccessful ones. Exploit weaknesses and neglected market segments.

Then deliver. Or at least just not annoy your customers.

Most companies do not need (or even want) to be world leaders.

Find your market niche. Perfect your product or service. Exceed customer expectations.

If you do, you have a fair chance of business success.

Regardless of whether or not you have a corporate vision or mission statement.

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