Every business leader should have a full grasp on their business environment. One easy and comprehensive way to view the environment is to draw out what I call, the map. The map is a way to create a picture of the market you are playing in. It is a high-level view of everyone you interact with in your market place. Writing down every player that interacts with, or impacts, your business will help you visualize where you fit in the market.
The map should show all the different organizations that your company interacts with at some level, companies that you sell through, your channels, suppliers you work with, partners you’re leveraging, associations you’re a member of, and also your competitors, so that you have a map of your business landscape.
It’s very simple to do. Just take a blank piece of paper and put your company’s name in the middle of the page. Then, on the left-hand side, write down all the entities involved in getting your product to market: • Your customers • A particular customer segment • A channel that you sell through, whether directly or indirectly. • Someone who refers business to your company because you have complementary products.
Next, on the right-hand side of the page, you’re going to create a map of your supply chain. Write down any suppliers you use to get your product/service to market. You might have supply chains for many different products, but you’ll see, as you write them down, who your key suppliers are. On this side of the page I also include any partners or industry associations that the company is a member of. And finally, because they’re also in our market landscape and we bump into them, even though we might not have a direct relationship with them, I include my direct competitors. This gives you a view of who is interacting with your market environment and with the same suppliers, channels partners, and customers.
I highly recommend that, as the leader, you try drawing the map first. Then, take an hour or two with your leadership team and go through the process of drawing it together. This map will help you and your leadership team visualize the industry, the industry flow, and where your organization could fit into the marketplace. It will help you know whom you can make happy, annoy, and leverage to scale the business quickly.