The success of your business doesn’t just rely on your product, your brand, or your marketing strategy. It also relies on you, the owner. It’s your job not only to oversee the everyday operations of your business, but also to take a step back and look at the big picture.
There are 7 priorities that you should consider when deciding what you want your company to become, and where you want it to go. The priority I’d like to discuss today is your mission and the five essential questions every owner has to answer to get a handle on theirs.
“A business without a dream,” according to Michael E. Gerber, entrepreneur and author of The E-Myth, “is like a life without a purpose.”
And the lack of purpose seems to be a chronic issue in organizations across the business spectrum. In his 2009 TED Talk, Simon Sinek addresses this issue:
“Very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by ‘why,’ I don’t mean ‘to make a profit.’ That’s a result. It’s always a result. By ‘why,’ I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause?…Why do you get out of bed in the morning?”
It’s essential to ask yourself why you exist as a company. If you don’t know the answer to that question right away, it might be prudent to take some time to contemplate it – not just for yourself, but also for your employees.
Gino Wickman, author of Traction, stresses the importance of developing a mission statement for your company. “[It’s not] always an easy process,” he says, “but it’s an extremely valuable exercise that…gives everyone a central purpose to focus on.”
2. Who for?
Your mission cannot be separated from the question – who are you doing all this for? You know what you want to accomplish, but who benefits from that goal?
The answer may be simple: you want to have the most prosperous business you can so that you and your employees are happy and secure. But it’s more likely that the answer goes a little deeper. Maybe you want to improve your customers’ lives. Maybe you want to fulfill a promise you made to your father, to become the most profitable pizza place in town.
Motivational speaker Michael Port puts it this way, “who were you meant to serve?” I love that question. It gets to the heart of why many people started their business – a vision and a desire to serve a specific audience. For some, it’s clarity on the “what we do” – but scratch the surface a bit and you’ll find the “who” for that “what”– try it and you’ll see!
All of this is part of your mission.
Fully understanding your mission can be invaluable in terms of guiding choices and decisions about your company. If you know where you want to go – it’s easier to get there.
But it’s not just about knowing you want to succeed. You have to know how.
Take a local pizza place, for instance: is their mission just to sell the most pizza? No. They want to have the best pizza in town, or they want to have the most welcoming environment. There are different routes to achieve your monetary goal.
What’s more, your vision for success might not be limited to simple revenue. It’s all up to you. Maybe you want a social mission, or maybe, like Elon Musk, you want to see your company be the first to go to Mars (though, if you’re a pizza place, that might be a stretch…)
Whatever you want your company to achieve, articulation is important. If you can’t visualize and communicate your company’s ideal future – you’ll never get there.
4. Who are we?
When exploring your mission as a priority, the vital first step is deciding – deciding who you are as a business. That sense of self is intrinsic to the mission.
“A great mission statement,” according to Wickman, “also makes it easy for other organizations to gain insight into what you do.” If you’re a B2B operation, this sort of clarity is essential; if you’re not, the statement is still true, but of the individual.
You have to first understand your identity in order to communicate that identity to others. And if investors, customers, and employees don’t understand the core values – the mission – that defines your company, they won’t want to hang around.
5. What’s next?
Knowing where you want to go and how you’re going to get there is all part of a vision for your company’s future.
What’s next for your market? Changes in your market, new developments in your industry, and other variables will undoubtedly affect not only your present state of being but your mission and your view of yourself as a business. You need to be ready for these variables – you need to take time now to think about the future and ask “what’s next?”
What’s next for your company? Where do you want to be in three years, five years, retirement? What roadblocks might appear in your way? How will you overcome them? How will your mission hold up against them? What does the “end of the road” look like for you?
The 7 Owner Priorities:
There are 7 priorities that you should consider when deciding what you want your company to become, and where you want it to go:
- Mission ✓
- Cost Management
Questions to discuss over a pizza with your team:
- Does your company have a central, guiding purpose? If not, what is the “why” that justifies your existence?
- Do you have a specific, articulated vision for success? Or is your mission just to “achieve the most revenue possible”?
- Is your company identity clear to your employees and the people you do business with? Is it clear to you?