6 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples (6 medium) · 3/4 cup sugar · 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour · 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon · 1/4 teaspoon salt · 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and one tablespoon of salt. Sound familiar? These ingredients are combined and sealed inside a soft pie crust with three slits across the top, baked at 425 degrees until the apples are tender and the crust is golden brown. Thanks to Pillsbury, we have had an apple pie that has grown to be a reliably delicious part of the holiday season for over 100 years.
As traditional as apple pie, the holiday season has continued to bring families and friends together, spending quality time and embracing the spirit of connectedness. However, eventually, the family gathering comes to an end and our alarm clocks are waking us up to get back to our place of employment. As our mind shifts back to work mode, we can still hold onto that “piece of apple pie.” What ingredients do we need to combine to make our business start or continue to be successful? Take for example a new business owner. Creating a company for the first time is a lot like whipping up an apple pie for the first time. You need a recipe, although it may be simple. You know what the ingredients are, and you can visualize the results. Yet without detailed instructions, your “business recipe” may not give you the desired outcome you initially envisioned.
There are essentially two parts to every recipe – the ingredients and the instructions. For a new business, you can provide unique ingredients, such as your executive summary, business description and structure, market research and strategies, management, personnel, and financial documents. The question remains, how do you take these ingredients and come up with the “tried and true” recipe for success? What are the preparation steps? For example, your team. Be sure you have a great one! Who is going to be your “head chef”? Are you investing in the right people? Typically, start-up money doesn’t drive a company’s success if you have the wrong people for the job.
Secondly, have you identified a market with a real need? Have you found those “hungry” people who are willing to pay for your product or service? Identifying consumer interest and targeting those who are willing to pay for your product is often one of the keys to increased revenue.
Third, what is your go-to-market strategy? Are you willing to test your “entree” on potential customers helping them get a “taste” of your product? Are you willing to be adaptable to trends in the marketplace, economic realities, and data on your ideal customer? Are you willing to budget for the updated data which can be crucial to a business’s success?
Fourth, what about your financial model? Have you set the right price for your “entrée” and included the costs associated with creating your product? What about your sales and marketing investment, cash flow and capital requirements? Are you showing growth rates and a return on your investment? Basically, are you validating your business model?
Finally, as you see your business succeeding, focusing on continuous improvement can be key. How about “kicking it up a notch?” Developing metrics to measure your business and utilizing them to scale up and improve your product or service as fast as the market will allow can also be part of your recipe for success.
To summarize, a business plan can often be the complete recipe, combining your ingredients with a process. If you don’t have one, the chances of your “apple pie” turning out perfectly may be low. Following your how-to recipe for effectively combining your ingredients combined with your competitive edge can be sure to deliver a delicious dish, serving your business a profit, a healthy outlook, as well as future recipes put together to bring you and your staff a successful and profitable business model for years to come.