By Mark Wesley, publisher, business gardener, and marketing strategist
At Metamorphicx, we help leaders to transform themselves and their organizations for positive impact so that they can change their world. One of the ways we’ve done this is to develop the Tree of More Life vision for business development, a model that describes a business as a tree that begins with the seed of business vision and ultimately bears fruit in the form of profits and positive personal growth.
The Tree of More Life metaphor begins with a business that plants a personal dream—the seed—and nourishes it with personal passion—the soil. The seed then produces a strong root system in a collection of foundational concepts—a business model, value propositions, and value chain descriptions—from which the above-ground structure of the business can grow.
From that healthy foundation, the framework of the business takes direction and shape, and the end result is the fruit of profit.
Your Tree’s Trunk: Leadership and Accountability
The first part of the Tree of More Life to emerge from the root system, and the part of the tree that supports everything else above ground is the business’ leadership. It is here that you, as the owner of the business’ vision and the leader who will take it forward, provides the strength and stability that will make the business successful in everything it does.
To be an effective leader, you must take the underground framework and execute on it through proven management processes and self-management disciplines. Effective leadership is characterized by five essential skills: innovation, communication, organization, discrimination, and concentration.
Leaders must innovate; they must set themselves and their businesses apart from the competition and show that they can solve customers’ problems in new and better ways.
Leaders must communicate; they must be able to describe their vision not just to customers, but to employees and colleagues, too, so that the business can function as a unified organization as it pursues that vision.
Leaders must be organized; they must have a plan for the pursuit of their business goals, and they must be able to consistently develop systems for executing that plan.
Leaders must discriminate; they must be able to identify which paths to follow and which paths to ignore as they pursue the business’ goals.
Leaders must concentrate; they must be able to stay focused on their goals and avoid distractions.
Finally, a business’ leader must be fully accountable for the behavior of the business. True ownership means taking full responsibility for the business you’ve created. We all make choices based on our values, and we get results that are a reflection of what we believe and hold dear.
The Limbs: Your Business’ Core Functions
From the sturdy trunk of leadership grow the Tree’s biggest limbs, the core functions that work together to make the business productive. These limbs—which include such major functions as finance, marketing, sales, and delivery—are supported and directed by the trunk. They, in turn, support the smaller branches that represent the smaller processes within these larger functions.
Standing Out: Your Business’ Brand
Perhaps the most important of these limbs is your business’ brand. Simply speaking, your brand is your business’ identity in the minds of your customers. It is what comes to your customer’s mind when he or she encounters’ your business’ name, and it’s what he or she expects to get from your product.
In terms of your business function, brand building involves a system of marketing practices that establish an identity and a reputation for your company, but it also relies on your business practices as a whole. Your business must function as a coherent unit, always in line with your brand identity, in order to build a brand that leaves a lasting positive impression on customers.
Brand building also requires a clear understanding of your business’ market environment. You must know with great precision who your customers are so that you can understand how they will react to your efforts to build a brand.
You must also have a detailed understanding of your competitors and their brands. Your goal in brand building is establishing a unique identity for your business and your product. You must know how your product differs from—and is better than—your competitors’ products, and you must strive to create an identity that is easily distinguishable from your competitors’ identities.
Finally, you must make your brand identity part of every aspect of your business. Your brand identity must be an integral part of your business’ function, and all parts of your business must behave in a way that is consistent with your brand.
That’s why brand building is one of your Tree’s strongest limbs, and not a spindly branch growing from the marketing limb. Brand building is one of the most important things that your business does, and your Tree of More Life is weak without it.
Your Business Bears Fruit: The Branches That Make It Happen
All those smaller branches that grow from the main limbs are the systems and processes that make up the daily functions of your business. They are the key to a bountiful harvest of fruit, but they can’t exist without the limbs that support them. And those limbs can’t exist without the trunk that holds them up. Leadership and the core functions that it supports are the framework that makes your business successful.
Mark Wesley owns metamorphicx and me+mi publishing. He has spent the last 25 years developing products and providing services for businesses across the United States. As an EMyth-certified business coach and Duct Tape marketing consultant, Wesley helps clients improve their leadership, branding, finance, management, marketing, sales, and customer engagement skills. He is a current member of the IBPA board of directors.