Planning: How To Find What You Do And How To Be Outstanding

What do you do? What is your niche? 

The old saying goes, “Jack of all trades, master of none,” and it can apply to business in many ways, the first being that there is no such thing as a business that can do everything. Like the saying goes, if you do everything then you are not going to be that good at any of them.

One of the most important things in business is to stand out at something. To be outstanding if you will. 

This means that you have to first of all, discover what you do best and then hone those skills that make you the best. It is interesting to me that many companies do not understand what they do best. They just take it as it comes. They build what their customers send them. This is especially true when it comes to companies like ours in the PCB industry since what we are in the end are “Job Shops’, building our  customers’ products.  This can make it difficult to make clear what it is we do, what we are good at. What is our niche can be even more difficult to discern.

What we sell is expertise, expertise to produce certain technologies that our customers want and need. Our “Product” is our process to build those technologies.

To find out what our true niche is, what our own expertise is, we need to ask ourselves these questions:

  1. What do we do best? What technologies do we thrive in?
  2. What do our customers say about us? Why do they do business with us? Why do they like working with us?
  3. What are the prevalent technologies that fill our shop? Basic four and six layers? Metal backed? Flex and Rigid Flex? HDI? Military? Medical? Automotive? and so on. Check our customer list and your backlog to discover what we are building the most of.
  4. How good are we at building these technologies?
  5. What business are our customers in? Are they in a market that is expanding or contracting?
  6. Does that market have a solid future outlook?
  7. What is it going to take for us to be able to serve those customers in those markets both today and in the future?

Taking this information, you build on it by brainstorming with your team. Ask these leading questions to define your future:

  • Mission Statement: Clearly articulate the purpose and mission of your company, outlining the core values and principles.
  • Vision: Define your long-term vision, describing where you want the company to be in the future.
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Identify what sets your product or service apart from competitors.
  • Target Audience: Define your ideal customer base and demographics.
  • Market Research: Conduct thorough market research to understand industry trends, customer needs, and competitors.
  • SWOT Analysis: Evaluate your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Competitive Analysis: Analyze your competitors to identify gaps and opportunities in the market
  • Value Proposition: Clearly communicate the value your product or service provides to customers.
  • Positioning: Determine how you want your brand to be perceived in the market.
  • Brand Identity: Develop a strong brand identity, including logos, colors, and messaging.
  • Marketing Channels: Choose the most effective marketing channels to reach your target audience.
  • Pricing Strategy: Decide on your pricing structure based on costs, value, and market demand.
  • relationships.
  • Growth Strategy: Outline your plans for expanding your business, whether through new markets, products, or acquisitions.
  • Technology and Innovation: Leverage technology to stay competitive and innovative.
  • Partnerships and Alliances: Identify potential partners or alliances that can help your business grow.
  • Employee Engagement: Ensure that your employees are aligned with the company’s mission and values.
  • Customer Feedback: Continuously gather and act on customer feedback to improve your offerings.
  • Risk Management: Develop strategies to mitigate potential risks to your business.
  • Execution Plan: Create a detailed plan for implementing your strategy.

Look, I know that this kind of thing takes time. Sometimes even a few days of meetings, but in the end it works. And in the end it is worth the time investment. 

One of my ongoing frustrations is how little time some companies spend on their strategy and company direction. I really hope that you, dear reader, will consider doing this kind of exercise. Think for a minute about how little time you are spending each year thinking about and planning for your business. It’s likely very little, isn’t it? We are always ready to talk about the business directly in front of us, but when it comes to self-evaluation and looking at our future, for some reason we never seem to find the time.

I would urge all of you to find that time. Especially this time of the year. Find the time, bring your team together and talk and think and discuss and plan your future, your company’s future, not only for this year but for years to come. It’s only common sense.