The Making Part 2: Defining a Business

| by Amber Leigh Turner | business, january creative
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One would think that sitting down and defining what your business is and what it is going to do would be the easy part. And it may very well be. But it was one of the most challenging parts of this entire endeavor for me. What exactly do I do, and who do I do it for? What makes me different?

One of the problems I was having before is figuring out exactly what I did in my freelancing was, “Am I only a graphic designer and web designer?” If so, why do I consult my clients about marketing as well? So I knew I was more than just a designer. But what was I, and how would that translate into a business?

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that 75% of small businesses don’t have a solid definition of their business. Sure, it would be easy for me to say “I am a graphic and web designer,” but that leaves a lot out that I do, some of which I do very well.

One of my favorite examples of business definition (or mission) comes from Google (the company, not a search result). Think of all of the things that Google does. They do search, email, documents, videos, social, translations,advertising, maps, and shopping, among so many more. So what would you say Google’s business definition is?

They elegantly and precisely define their business as ” Organiz[ing] the world’s information and mak[ing] it universally accessible and useful.” Pretty powerful stuff. Everything I listed above, and everything they are currently developing fit perfectly into that mission statement.

So what is my mission, or business definition? It’s not quite ironed out as nicely and short as Google’s, but I can tell you that I am not a graphic designer, or a web designer, or a geek behind the computer for the majority of her day.

What should my business say about what I do?

Before I tell you what January Creative’s business definition is, I must first explain what I wanted my business to say. You have already heard some of those things, such as being green, going behind design, and helping clients with visual identity design and marketing. Some others were to help businesses grow, make design projects easy for clients, educate clients on proper uses and techniques for design work, and so many other things.

When clients come to me, they often do so because they are either starting a new business or looking to take their business to a different or new level, and want me to help them visually represent them. This was the idea behind the “fresh restarts” and “new beginnings” phrases you see on the home page of this website.

I also had the issue of “who am I providing services to?” After several sleepless nights trying to define my target market, I stopped. Why? Because the type of services I was offering and for who was pretty much already defined. I wanted to work with clients who were starting a new business, or working to take their business to a new level.

Narrowing that target market even more could have caused some repercussions, such as not being able to sustain enough business to keep the doors open. My market needed to be small enough to become a niche provider, but large enough to provide enough income to stay in the niche. Bit of a catch 22.

I didn’t define my market based on variables that didn’t change. I defined it by situations or opportunities that are changing.

This went against everything I was taught in my six years of business school, but why wouldn’t it be able to work? It does work. For instance, who would you say is the target market for a body shop? You could say those that own cars, but that is a very large market.

Their target market are those that are in the situation of needing their car repaired. Today, my car could be in perfect condition, but tomorrow I could back into my mailbox, and all of a sudden I go from not being in the body shop’s target market to being a perfect prospective client.

January Creative’s Business Definition

So without further adieu, January Creative’s business definition is:

Conceptualizing, developing, and executing successful visual identity design for businesses, organizations, groups, and individuals who are in the process of starting a new beginning or seeking a fresh restart.

Not as pretty and sexy as Google’s, but I felt it covered the highlights. The point was to bring focus and clarity to a seemingly open type of business.

I defined my business as the above (and I am still working on that definition) because I wanted to focus on one part of the design world and cater to my strengths. Along with that, I find an absence of graphic design professionals who don’t offer this type of service to the level I know I can provide for my clients. With my strong marketing background and even stronger design skills, I knew I could position myself in an area that more and more clients are seeking.

For the next post, I will talk about how I arrived at the name and logo. The longest part of this endeavor, after I defined what the business is, the name and logo was much easier to conceive and finalize on.

Author’s note: This post originally appeared on version one of January Creative’s site on February 8, 2012. For the launch of version two of January Creative’s site, some of the original posts were republished here, edited and republished here, or got booted permanently. Starting July 1, 2015, all articles published will be brand new articles.

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