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If there were a business equivalent of six pack abs, one such flat belly might surprise you.

Dunkin’ Donuts.*

I know. Using “six pack abs” and “donuts” in the same sentence is a little strange. But regardless of how Dunkin’ fits within your health regimen, this brand has maintained a fitness level that is legendary. Well into its seventh decade, its a lesson in the importance of maintaining your business core.

Your physical body has a core that includes the abs, the side muscles, those deeper muscles supporting the spine, as well as the glutes. Those muscles are core by way of their pivotal role in supporting your entire body.

Everybody has a core. So does every business.

For some it is their people, culture and customer service. For others it might be products, systems and content. Marcus Lemonis of NBC’s “The Profit” looks for those companies where people, process, and product can be restored to create a turnaround. For many IT companies it’s people, process and technology.

A common pattern is a triad of three elements whose unique mix and constellation holds a competitive advantage. Just as the strength of your core has a bearing on the stability of your body, so too the strength of the business core often determines how well a company will hold up over the long haul.

Here is a look at the business core of Dunkin’ Donuts.

Product Simplicity

Dunkin’ began with a very simple business idea – to sell coffee and donuts to factory workers. That simple product theme has been at it’s core for over seven decades.There have been hundreds of product enhancements along with many shifts in mix and emphasis (such as on coffee beginning in 2003). Yet it has maintain a simplicity that creates for a predictable experience.

I don’t go to Dunkin’ because the people are so great. I go because the product is so good.

Financial Discipline

Almost to a fault, Dunkin’ has been vigorous about staying financially disciplined. In order to compete in a Starbucks dominated world, it had to become aggressive in opening new stores. This raised the bar on the size and financial strength of its franchise network. Accordingly Dunkin’ has made several tough calls with franchisees who could not hold to emerging financial standards.

While they have probably been “unfriended” by a few franchisees along the way, it has made for a more stable body of stores within the markets served. Dunkin’ was diligent about maintaining the strength of its financial core.

Brand Strength

The Dunkin’ Donuts brand has been alive over 70 years because it has exercised this core strength all along the way. It has not let the brand atrophy, even though there have been changes in ownership and many tempting trends that could have derailed it. The brand, and it’s corresponding value, has remained fresh and alive over time and is a worthy competitor on a global scale.

Every business, whether a solo-preneur or a multi-national, has a core.

The question for all business leaders is this. Are we working to strengthen our core?Do we exercise it’s muscles in the right ways to maintain a healthy posture in the marketplace?

It’s a worthwhile question at every level and across every generation.

What is your business core? How will you strengthen it this year?

* Firsthand personal research was conducted for this article.

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