Do you take your business, your brand and the growth of your business seriously?

Or – really – are you just pissing about?

I asked someone these exact questions last week.

(I’ll tell you who I asked later).

I asked this person if they actually knew what they were doing.

Or if they were just smiling through the big, shiny, artificially whitened teeth of a well constructed and presented but wafer thin brand.

A brand that, behind the scenes, didn’t really have a clue how to grow.

A brand that, behind the scenes, was scared to ask for proper help.

Because, (they thought) asking for help would make them look silly.


If you want, you can ask yourself the same Entry Level questions that I asked, below.

The same questions that I asked this person.

To find out if YOU are taking your business, your brand and the growth of your business seriously.

Or – really – if are YOU just pissing about.

Just as I asked the person I was talking to last week.

Entry Level. 

Entry Level for any business are these rudimentary questions, studies, touchstones, documents and frameworks:

  • Organisational objectives. What do you and yours actually want from this venture? And when do they want it? You, your family and fellow shareholders.
  • Customer Avatars. Who will buy from you? How well do you actually know them?  How do they live their lives and how do they actually behave? As people and as consumers. How are  you going to get them to notice you, buy into you and buy from you? (And then buy from you again). How are you going to get under their skin? So that they become fans and tell others.
  • The Competitive Environment. Do you understand how readily your target customers can get the same benefits that you are offering from elsewhere? Have you developed strategies to corral competitor audiences to defect to you? To become your customers instead of their customers? Have you developed a circle of brands with whom you should be associated, so that their audience can be encouraged – by you – to become your audience and customers as well?
  • A Brand Strategy. What do you stand for? What is the change you want to make? What is your distinct, ownable, memorable, compelling and motivating reason for being? What is your purpose? And who gives a shit about all of that? (If it isn’t your customer avatar – you really are screwed). And how do you propose to embed all of this into the fabric of your organisation (even if it’s only you) and into the minds of your segmented marketplace? How are you going to find and engage with those that believe what you believe? Do you even understand how you are different and better? And is this point of difference something you can own?
  • A Marketing Strategy. What will you say, to whom, when, why and how? What combination and schedule of marketing tactics is best? And how do you know and review this? What five different strategies do you have in place for your five different kinds of customer (there are only ever five kinds of customer. In any business).
  • A Messaging Framework. What will your brand actually say? What are the actual words? What is your leading edge proposition and that are your trailing edge propositions? Those things that focus on customer acquisition. And those that will consolidate a sale and build loyalty, repeat business and reputation. So you will be remembered.
  • Sales Strategy. What are your routes/channels to market? How does your selling machine actually work? What do you do when? Who else is involved? How can you ensure that intermediaries can sell as well as you can? What are your sales targets?
  • Organisation. How does all of this work and fit together? Who do you need and who do you have to make all of this work?
  • Money. Profit targets and margins. Reserves levels. Are the key ratios correct. Does your pricing policy allow you to flourish in the channels you have chosen? Or are you restricted? How are you in the context of industry norms? Is cash flow OK? Are you planning for organic growth or step change…

If you are good with 80% of this, go for it.

If you’re not, get help.


Get someone that will help you then hold you to account over time so you don’t drift.


This stuff is hard.

It’s thorough.

And when you’re on it, and if you address all of this properly, it’s great fun.

Honestly, it’s ace.

I told this – in no uncertain terms – to the person I was giving a fucking good talking to last week.

Asking them every single one of these questions – and more.

I thought you might benefit from listening in.

Because the person I was talking to.

Was me.

Image by Pete Zulu.


  1. I love this Michael, sometimes you just nail it right on the big bloody head mate! I am thankful we have Melissa at Nat West to hold us accountable but so so true…

  2. I knew the punch was coming. But it was well delivered and clocked me right on the nose. In fact, I even enjoyed being hit.

    Great questions Michael. Thorough, deep, searching, difficult questions – but if you are planning on succeeding, they are ones that need to be answered.

    Many businesses do not have good answers. Many more have no answers at all. And there are legions who don’t even know there are questions.

    I’m going to print them out big and hold my feet, my colleagues’ feet and perhaps some clients’ feet to the fire.

    • It’s a little framework I use a lot, I think.

      A nice, but also slightly scary, reminder.

      All the best Shaughn.


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