The Key Activities Your Business Needs to Survive

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As we determined in the value proposition phase of the Business Model Canvas, there are certain things customers are going to expect from your business. The key activities block of the business model canvas helps us figure out what those are and what we should be paying attention to that might not necessarily done for value creation.

Key Activities: An Essential Building Block for Any Business Model

While it might be tempting to just start listing out ideas, let’s start by thinking about back to the pieces of the business model we already know:

  • Your value proposition is a great place to start. What did you promise to deliver, and what kinds of activities must you keep doing to deliver that promise?
  • Customer relationships are crucial. What key activities are paramount to maintaining those relationships?
  • Based on the channels we evaluated, what are some key activities for each?
  • We know we can’t do business alone. Are there any pieces you absolutely need to keep those relationships with key partners alive and well?
  • Take a look at your revenue streams, what do you need to keep those working and open?
  • What about your customer segments – are there specific things you’ll need to do in order to keep them happy (aside from providing the value you promised?)

The main goal here is to focus on “key” activities, not including the unnecessary ones we tend to include as the business grows. The key things are those like delivering the product or service, communication with the customer, or the actual making of said product or service.

You can absolutely keep a list of the non “key” activities just as a baseline for other things you’ll need to work on, but the key ones are most important here.

I think that’s extremely valuable because then you’re going to have a list of detailed tasks you need to build systems for. From here you can start working on your operating procedures so you can easily hand off work to an employee, virtual assistant, or contractor.

Examples of Key Activities

However, for this exercise you really just need to focus on 3-5 activities that are going to keep your business going. Here are some examples of Key Activities:

  • Business development – building relationships with partners. These could be supply chain management partners, or a single person who might refer you business in the future.
  • Market research – learning about customers motivations, problems, and your potential competitors. You’ll also want to know if your business and industry are predicted to move in an upward or downward trend over the next few years.
  • Sales – going out and finding customers. Making sure you follow up with potential clients every few weeks to stay top of mind. This has helped me get quite a few of my customers in the past. I was the only one who bothered to follow up!
  • Marketing – creating buzz around your brand and product – whether it’s through content creation, paid advertising, or other distribution channels.
  • Product Development – this can include optimization of the production process, software development, building out a new product and services to meet your customers needs, etc.

Of course, these are just a few examples and it will vary based on your business and industry.

Here are some examples of my key activities:

  • Ask for referrals (this is my number one lead generation machine at this point)
  • Giving gifts to other entrepreneurs who send referrals my way
  • Networking and going to conferences – this checks the box of improving my skills and meeting people who can refer clients
  • Communication with clients – trying my best to make sure they understand every step of the process
  • Improving the onboarding process to create a better experience and save time later
  • Staying on top of marketing trends and testing new channels to improve my service
  • Getting training and certifications (similar to above but more formal)
  • Improving the sales process

Now of course, I wrote down about 20 other things that are not key activities, but are things I would do to move the business forward in the future. Here are a few examples:

  • Speaking more regularly
  • Creating case studies
  • Building an email list
  • Improving the website
  • Creating content to bring in inbound leads
  • Be on podcasts and other people’s websites to grow awareness

I hope that helps you see the difference between the two as the lines can be a little blurred. Again, don’t spend too much time here – but pick a few things that you know if you didn’t do, your business would fall apart.

That’s it for today – comment and let me know a few of your key activities.

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