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How Well Do You Know Your Business?

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 10/22/2009

Entrepreneurs have two to three minutes, tops, to define their business to prospective venture capitalists and customers. Do you know your business well enough to make the most of this short time frame?

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    Importance of a Business Overview

    Watch any television commercial or examine a magazine or newspaper advertisement and you will discover the impact that short, concise action-provoking business overviews have on people.

    It sounds simply enough. However, many entrepreneurs, whether they be shopkeepers, artists or members of the medical, investment, scientific or educational communities, struggle when asked to stand up before an audience and fully describe their business in less than three minutes. Entrepreneurs can find the task so daunting that they shift the responsibility to the head of their marketing department.

    To create an engaging overview of their business, entrepreneurs would do well to start with their company’s mission statement. Make sure that the mission statement includes the company’s philosophy, culture and guiding principles. Over time, as the company continues to develop and expand, the culture will change.

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    Photo by Iron Bishop at Wikimedia Commons

    Entrepreneur Business Owner
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    Company Philosophy and Mission

    However, a firm’s philosophy and guiding principles should generally remain solid and unchanged. For example, entrepreneurs who operate beauty salons might have a mission statement that reads, “To offer a world class salon that offers a diverse range of services to clients across cultures. To be the top salon in the Northeastern part of the United States.”

    Focus on the company’s culture. To narrowly define the culture of their business, entrepreneurs should ask themselves questions like - What types of employees and consultants does the company hire? Is the business solely a virtual firm? Are we flexible with work arrangements and allow employees to set their own work hours or do we demand that employees work tirelessly until business goals are met?

    Have a clear understanding of the company’s history and guiding principles. Entrepreneurs who operate businesses that create and manage data and statistical analysis for other small businesses and government agencies might have guiding principles that read, “Provide consistent accurate data analysis for global clients operating in the healthcare industries.” Another guiding principle for entrepreneurs who operate data management businesses might read, “Research and verify reportable facts and figures with a minimum of three credible sources or references.”

    Guiding principles, culture and the company’s mission statement should have a direct connection to the products and services that the entrepreneur provides. After an entrepreneur becomes familiar with the history, guiding principles, culture and mission of their company, they can combine the four to create a two to three minute overview of their firm. This is the overview that entrepreneurs will benefit from presenting to their prospective business partners, clients and customers.

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    Sample Business Description

    Entrepreneurs can make passengers who sit next to them on airplanes and trains aware of their company while they travel to meetings or other official or personal engagements. Pulling all the elements of a company’s main points together, an entrepreneur who owns the beauty salon referenced earlier in this article might describe her business to a potential client like, “Feel Fine Beauty Salon was founded in 1989 by me and another empowering woman, Betty Jones. We started as a small company located above a storefront in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Today we have a suite of salons in Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore and Princeton. Feel Fine Beauty Salon offers a broad range of world class products and care. Hand braided hair designs, coloring, trims, stylish cuts that fit the face, imported conditioners and moisturizers and customized nail designs are a few of the services and products that we offer to male and female clients from the world’s cultures. Our clients consist of local residents and international tourists. Feel Fine Beauty Salon’s mission is to be the top culturally diverse salon in the Northeastern part of the United States.”

    Opportunities for entrepreneurs to present and describe their business abound. Because industry leaders, potential business partners, clients and customers often have full and busy schedules, entrepreneurs who are armed with a clear yet thorough description of their company can leave a positive and lasing impression on people they discuss their business with. Over time these discussions will likely generate new revenue by leading to increased product and service sales.