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Forget Business Plans. Business Maps are the Answer

The pace of change has accelerated to the point where a business plan is no longer enough to plot the future of your business with any certainty. Disruptive technologies or unexpected competitors can come along and displace your business overnight. How do you position your business in this hyper-competitive environment?

Different from a business plan, which will likely be obsolete in five years, a business map helps you close the gap between where you are and where you want to be. This is force #1 of the 7 Forces of Business Mastery: Know Where You Really Are and Create an Effective Business Map.

To create an effective business map, first ask yourself “What business am I in?

And then drill a little deeper. For instance, what business is Starbucks in? Most people would say the coffee business. But ask Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and he will likely tell you about his trip to Italy, where he saw people eagerly meeting in cafes before and after work. He saw the promise of a transitional meeting place between home and work, and that was the seed that grew into Starbucks. He knew his business was about creating an experience, not just delivering coffee.

The next two questions are: “What business am I really in?” and “How is business?

How is this useful? Back in the early 1900s, if railroad companies in the U.S. realized that they were really in the transportation business, not the railroad business, they could have prevented the entire industry from going bankrupt as the trucking industry took over.
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