Recently, one of our facilitators, Jodi Rhoden, spoke eloquently to her Birds Eye class when she stated “Your businesses are extensions of you out in the world. They can serve as microcosms of your beliefs, skills, passions, and daydreams.” After hearing this, and reflecting on my own entrepreneurial journey that has confluenced into the founding of Birds Eye, I was reminded how, since early childhood, the most important thing to me has always been the depth and meaning of the relationships that I maintain.
It then dawned on me that this core value is woven into the heart of Birds Eye’s work and is what I would define to be our Unique Value Proposition in the market: Relationship Tumbler. Viewed through a sharp lens, Birds Eye is a relationship builder, tester, and destroyer. Viewed through a poetic lens, Birds Eye is a relationship developer, mirror, and transformer. Stick with me as I apply this to the business planning process, it is a little more layered than it might first sound.
We get to work with folks who are committed to building something for their families, their communities, and/or the world at large. But at the heart of all of that development is the building of their own relationship with their concept or existing venture. This is where the passion is generated to be able to carry them through the challenging or mundane times that inevitably lie ahead. In traditional terms, it involves the exploration of mission, vision, and values, but it is more intimate and nuanced than these commonly used terms may suggest. It is the real heart of the matter that then is built into form. There are exceptional business planning models out there that help test the market viability of your concept quickly that we often encourage folks to use, but if you skip this critical first step of testing the entrepreneur’s inner motivation and muscle, then a foundation may get laid that cracks with the first storm.
Once we begin to span out from the initial nucleus of the business idea (and the buzz that comes with dreaming up a cool new idea), the tests and mirrors start to show up. In tangible form, these tests can look like a SWOT analysis, feedback from peers on various components of the plan or pitch, prototype results, etc. However, these mirrors are also at work “behind-the-scenes” in entrepreneurial development as well, in what I often describe as a “not-so-fun house of mirrors”. Our own strengths and weaknesses get cast all over the place and the ego makes a range of appearances along the journey of business planning. Having the padded walls of a cohort of fellow entrepreneurs to rebound from these distortions is what folks are often referring to when they praise the experience.
It is a harsh word, but on the other side of destruction often lies real opportunity. Sometimes we have to destroy old patterns of thinking or over-attachments to a business daydream that the market doesn’t have interest in in order to get to the real fertile ground where the right idea can begin to take seed. We have had Birds Eye participants who have actually completed the course giving a metaphorical eulogy at the gravesite of their great idea. Then, months or even years later, we will cross paths again and they will be brimming with excitement about a derivative concept for a business that is now coming into fruition in their lives. They have been able to clear out the demolition site, so to speak, and are now ready to take on what it is they feel they are truly called to do, and the market agrees with them.
So, sitting in a season of life when I rarely catch a moment to reflect, through writing this, I get the opportunity to reflect on the relationships I value most, both inside and outside of “my business”. This process serves me well on a series of levels. The invitation to my fellow entrepreneurs here is two-fold:
Is there a deeper connection between your “UVP” and your own core values than you originally thought? Could this connection actually serve as the motivation you need to finally shrink or close out unaligned lines of business?
Have you put your business or latest business concept through a recent “relationship test”? If not, is it time?