The 4Ps of your business

Business is complicated. So many moving parts. So many variables. So many pressing concerns. So little time.

I find it helpful to use frameworks to break complicated subjects (like business) into smaller components. It makes it a little easier to get your head around things, and helps identify key priorities from busywork. When you’re in the day-to-day trenches of running a business, it can be hard to tell the difference sometimes. 

There are literally TONS of frameworks that business gurus, consultants, researchers, and owners have developed over the years. Here’s what works for me—see if it resonates with you.

I like to look at business in terms of the Four Ps

The first P is Purpose. This is the big picture stuff. Why are you in business? Why does the business exist? What do you and your business hope to accomplish? What are the key principles that drive the business? This is where vision, and mission, and values come into play.

The first goal of any business should be to achieve crystal clarity on the why (vision), what (mission), and how (values) of the business, so that everything that comes after can be directly tied to the pursuit of the vision, furtherance of the mission, and values-based decision-making. All concepts I will discuss in future articles.

The second P is Planning. Once the business’ purpose is clearly articulated, the next step is planning what needs to be done in accordance with that purpose. Above I said that values are the how of a business. They are the big picture how. They are the deal breakers. If an opportunity, decision, investment, collaboration, etc conflicts with the values of the business, then the answer is easy…don’t do it.

If values are the big picture how of the business, then planning is the tactical how. What are the things that need to happen if the business is to move toward its vision. How do you get from point A to point B. This is where business plans live. Ideally your business should have a 3-year plan, as well as an annual plan broken down into quarterly measurable objectives. And the objectives must not only be measurable, but someone must be tasked with ensuring that the measurement takes place. Again, all concepts I will discuss in more detail in other articles.

The next two Ps are intertwined. They are People and Processes. It is people and processes that will determine whether or not the objectives set in the planning stage are achieved.

It is often said that people are the most important part of any business. And that’s true. But your people will only be at their best when the business has the purpose and planning components in place.

People and processes are intertwined because processes determine what people are brought into the business, and it is people who create, administer, and follow the processes of the business. Processes is where all of the components of the business people most often think of, and spend their time, come into play. Product or service development, sales, marketing, HR, operations, communications, technology, customer service, finance, risk management, and so on. These are all core functions of the business and each requires one or more processes for them to function effectively. And they all involve people. Whether or not these processes are well defined, consistently reviewed and refined, and align with all of the other processes—and with purpose and planning—go a long way to determining the sustainability and success of any business. 

Notice how none of the Ps is profit. That’s because profit – while it should obviously be a key goal of any business – is the EFFECT of the other 4 Ps.  Profit is the result of having aligned purpose, planning, people, and processes in your business. 

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