The Importance of Rethinking Business Design

2016-06-17-1466171985-3057508-johnrampton.jpgBy John Rampton

Over the years, I have learned that business design can benefit your company in so many areas.

For most businesses, according to Heather Fraser the director of Rotman DesignWorks, business design can be defined as "a methods-based approach to innovation that helps teams get to bigger breakthroughs faster and define strategies for competitive advantage." For me, business design has helped improve brand identity and loyalty, market position, sales, idea generation and time to market It's allowed me enhance operational efficiencies, creating a well-oiled machine.

Common Types of Business Designs

Business design doesn't just include the outward appearance of your business, such as a logo or website. While having a consistent look and voice for your brand are important, business design permeates everything about a company. When my team is looking at a graphic design for marketing materials or a website or if they are developing a new product, they put the principles of business design to work. While I do not have a product to actually package or a retail location, these are also types of business designs, along with architectural and interior design.

Below are a few pointers on how to rethink the design of your business, including examples of how I applied these ideas to my own business.

Build a Winning Business Model

Your business model must be a top priority. Figure out how to modify your model to disrupt the market and create more value than your competition.

At Due, I realized that there was a valuable core solution in the online invoicing system. However, in order to compete (and beat similar companies), I had to redesign my business to specialize in payments and offer an end-to-end solution for time and project management, billing and invoicing, a digital wallet, and more.

Have a Clearly-Defined Mission Statement

When starting a business, it helps to have a mission statement. When defining your mission statement, I suggest asking yourself the following questions:

  • Why exactly are you in business?
  • Do you know your customers?
  • What image of your business do you want to convey?
  • Why do people want your products or services?
  • What roles do you and your employees play?
  • What's your competitive edge that will help you succeed?
  • What are your values and how do they guide your business?

I used these questions as the basis for creating my company's mission statement. Once it was drafted, I turned to my team for feedback on how we could tweak it until it would guide us, and the business, towards achieving our primary objectives.

Put the Customers First

My one goal is to always put the customer first, followed closely by potential customers. In applying these concepts to my own business, I had to conduct research to understand what my customers really cared about, explore the creative ideas we could incorporate into our design, use a prototype to create an initial design of our new payments platform, and evaluate the feedback from customers on the new features and tools we were looking to add for value and a competitive advantage.

I first had to consider the big problems my customers were facing beyond just invoicing and getting paid on time. I then aligned my team and customers so they were on the same page. Finally, I took all this information and put it into a design that would create the right experience for the customers who would be using my payments platform.

Be Flexible

Every business owner will tell you that nothing goes as planned, including me. No matter how much research and preparation I have put into my business, those initial business plans and projections can be off track. For example, I focused strictly on online invoicing until I realized I could design a much larger business from the initial product.

As our first year of business progressed, I also changed my business design. It was important for me to pivot in order for Due to become the successful businesses that it is today. I've been able to accomplish our goals because we had backup plans and were flexible and willing to make the necessary changes.

Surround Yourself With the Right People

When building my all-star team, I look for people who share my passion, are a bit on the quirky side, are committed to what I'm building, and are ambitious and experienced. They must also be willing to learn and have a strong character. Lastly, they must be likable -- they should have that air about them that is positive, passionate and enthusiastic. The people design of my business has gone a long way to turning my business design into a success.

Business design is really a lifelong process of blueprint revival. This perspective will empower and help you understand how to do great things.

John Rampton is the founder of Palo Alto, California-based Due, a free payments company specializing in helping businesses bill their clients easily online. You can connect with him @johnrampton.