By Shannon Bell, Principal, Bell Virtual Solutions
As business owners, we know that starting a business takes passion, commitment, determination, perseverance, attention to detail and other things that we likely didn’t consider when we were starting out; including defining our business’s mission, vision and values. Establishing your company’s mission, vision and values statements will help define your business and propel your company towards long-term success.
If you’re just getting started – NOW is the perfect time to develop a strong mission, vision and set of values to guide your business as it grows. Defining your business’s mission, vision and values in the early stages of brand development helps to build trust with your target audience, develop your brand’s “story” and create exceptional client/customer and employee experiences.
If you’re already in business without clearly defined mission, vision and values statements, NOW is the perfect time for reflection and goal setting. Take time to consider your purpose and values to ensure your branding is aligned with your vision. The good news is that your business is likely already operating under a set of values and a vision that is directing you towards your goals, you likely have just not articulated them yet. Remember – communication is key!
Your Mission, Vision and Values – Why They Matter
An organization’s mission, vision and values statements are fundamental to communicating the who, what and why of your company for yourself, your team, your clients/customers and your stakeholders. With a clearly defined mission, vision and set of values, your business’s goals and plans will be better aligned, your brand identity will be easier to define, your team will have a clear understanding of your company’s direction, and your organization’s purpose will be easier to communicate to current and potential clients/customers.
The more clearly you define your organization’s goals at the onset, the less time and resources you will spend trying to repair poor communication, alignment issues, employee engagement and unwanted cultural behaviors in the future.
Mission Statement – What do we do?
At the heart of your business is your mission – it is what you do; your purpose. Your mission statement should be a summary of your overall business strategy, developed from your client/customer’s perspective and aligned with the vision you have for your business. Mission statements allow companies to define and establish their brand by identifying what they do and how they do it, as simply and clearly as possible.
You may be wondering: “How do I do that?” Surprisingly, the answer is simple, since you have probably done most of the work already without realizing it!
- Start by defining the overall purpose of your organization: What do you do? Who do you do it for? Why do you do it? To create your mission statement, you will need to identify your purpose – what do you do that will draw people to your business over competitors?
- Once you have identified your purpose, you will need to identify the key ways you will measure your success. A tangible means of assessing success and failure creates the motivation you (and your team) need to continue to deliver results.
- As your purpose and measures are defined, you will be left with a clear statement of your mission, which should reflect your idea, your measures and your desired outcome.
A mission statement should provide purpose, guide and unify an organization and set the tone for brand culture.
Vision Statement – Why are we here?
Once you’ve created the mission statement for your business, your next step should be to develop a vision statement that supports your mission. Your vision statement should identify long-term brand goals, provide clear guidance for current and future actions, identify your organizational purpose and unite your team in delivering your mission.
A vision statement describes your organization as it would appear in its future successful state. Again, you may be asking: “How do I do that?” This will require a bit more thought and, if you have one, collaboration with your team.
- First, you will want to identify your organization’s core values. What are they? Why are they integral to your brand and your future success?
- Once you’ve identified your core values, you will want to consider what you are currently doing that aligns with these values AND what you are doing that is not aligned.
- Next, you should consider how your company can remain aligned with these values as it grows over the next 5 to 10 years.
- Finally, once you have determined your values and alignment, you need to consider what you, your team, your clients/customers and your stakeholders will value most about how y achieve these goals.
An effective vision statement should both challenge and inspire
Values Statement – Who are we?
Many organizations stop creating when they have answered the WHAT and the WHY; but it is the WHO that that truly defines a brand.
A values statement is a set of beliefs and principles that guide your business activities and operations. A values statement helps to create a moral compass for your company and your team, to assist in decision-making, establish standards of behavior and guide your overall brand culture. Essentially, a values statement outlines who you are or who you aspire to be as an organization.
For those of you still thinking: “How do I do that?”, when it comes to writing your values statements start with a few rules:
- Ensure your values are measurable, decision-making tools so that you and/or your team can ask themselves “Am I doing this?”
- Keep it simple! You don’t need elaborate language or lengthy paragraphs, sometimes the simplest, shortest sentence delivers the greatest result.
- Keep it short. Make it memorable.
Values statements typically help to identify and connect a brand with its target audience, while reminding you and/or your team of your company’s priorities and goals.
- Every business, large or small, should be able to identify and articulate what they do, why they do it and who they are prior to launching the business.
- Taking the time to clearly define your mission, vision and values early on will humanize your brand by identifying: what you care about, what your purpose is and where you are going.
- Identifying your business’s mission, vision and values are fundamental to guiding strategy development, communicating purpose and identifying objectives.
- When used properly, your mission, vision and values statements can be powerful tools to motivate and inspire you and/or your team.
- Your mission, vision and values statements are a road map for your organization; but remember – you can always change direction. Periodic review and revision will enable your business to evolve and grow over the long-term.
Shannon Bell is the founder and principal operator of Bell Virtual Solutions – a full service administrative and project management firm, located in Langley, BC, specializing in supporting small businesses and busy professionals.