In our last post, we laid out the elements that a new business should consider before diving in “head over heels,” and we promised to offer some insight into the Mission, Vision, and Values statements. Most entrepreneurs have heard about these statements and often don’t spend much time or even any time crafting them. It is easy to tell ourselves that we know what business we are in so we just need to get out and do it! However, our view is colored by the tint of our glasses which is usually “rose-colored” by the romance of launching or running a new business. We expect to do what we love, make boat-loads of money, and have a rewarding life and business that will lead to enduring customer loyalty and an ever-increasing market. So who really needs Mission, Vision, and Values statements? Why would it be useful to get so formal as to create these statements?
The Entrepreneur.com encyclopedia says, “A key tool that can be as important as your business plan, a mission statement captures, in a few succinct sentences, the essence of your business's goals and the philosophies underlying them...A mission statement defines what an organization is, why it exists, its reason for being. At a minimum, your mission statement should define who your primary customers are, identify the products and services you produce, and describe the geographical location in which you operate.”
Our company’s “Mission,” simply put, defines what our business does and how it does that. It often serves as a public statement in our marketing materials to give prospective customers and clients some means to decide if we have the goods and/or services they want. The discipline of crafting our Mission Statement causes us to be very clear with ourselves that we can actually make good on what we offer. It further enables us, as business owners, to keep a manageable focus and not try to do more than we are in business to do. So, while a Mission Statement is delimiting, it also paves the way for lasting and more varied engagements with customers and clients. It all starts with being deeply committed to excellence in our mission! Keeping it simple and concise is critical. The United States Air Force Mission Statement is “…to fly and to fight…!” Everything every airman does every duty day in our Air Force is to that end.
From much research in business, we know that when the market perceives a business or business person to be expert in an area in which they seek products or services, and they are satisfied with their experience, that will also inspire confidence in that same business with regards to other products or services. It is sometimes called the “halo effect.” We see this effect used all the time when a celebrity, who has nothing whatsoever to do with a product, endorses it.
Here is a list of questions that might help in beginning to craft the Mission Statement for your company:
1. What dreams, ambitions, passions, and preoccupations do I have that led me to found this company? Do I have a sense of destiny about doing this?
2. Is there a need, interest, or market for what I am expertly skilled to do and passionate about doing through this business?
3. Is there room for my business in the marketplace, or is this need already adequately met in the location in which I would like to live and work?
4. Are people willing to pay enough for what my business might do that it would be self-sustaining for me and meet my financial and estate plans?
5. Am I willing to re-locate to follow my Mission?
Once you have become clear about your mission statement, Entrepreneur.com suggests, “It's more important to communicate the mission statement to employees than to customers,” since they are the public face of your company. The more they know and understand about the purpose for why you are in business, the more they can “buy in” and more convincingly sell your products and services.
And finally, “If you already have a mission statement, you will need to periodically review and possibly revise it to make sure it accurately reflects your goals as your company and the business and economic climates evolve. To do this, simply ask yourself if the statement still correctly describes what you're doing.” From time to time, every romance needs a tune-up and a breath of fresh air—so does your business!
Our next post will elaborate on the “Vision Statement” – stay tuned!