Define Your Mision, Values, Vision, and Purpose for your business
Nov 01, by Tanya Alvarez
Define Your Mision, Values, Vision, and Purpose for Your Business
Running a business can cause owners to get lost in the nuts, bolts, and moving parts. It’s something we completely empathize with at OwnersUp because service-based ownership is a serious undertaking.
Every day as an owner is a learning experience. You’re in a constant state of doing what needs to be done to turn a profit.
On top of that, a lot of service-based business owners jump headfirst into their new role. Often, these entrepreneurs were sick and tired of spilling their sweat and tears so that someone else could profit. Or, they just wanted the freedom that came with no longer having a 9 to 5, clock-in, clock-out obligation.
Sure, it’s possible to experience a level of success without anything more than your moxie.
In fact, I’ve worked with plenty of service-based owners earning 6-plus figures in revenue every year, and they came to me with an ad hoc approach. After all, we’re talking about ambitious people who are multi-talented, dynamic, and passionate. While they haven’t put much thought into vision, mission, values, and purpose, they’ve got the drive to push forward.
But your grit, determination, and skillset aren’t enough. At some point, you’ll hit a wall and forget why you become an owner in the first place.
Are you finally at this pivotal tipping point?
If so, I’ll start by saying, “bravo,” for these two reasons:
- You’ve gotten this far, and that’s an accomplishment in and of itself. Running a service-based business and finding any success is impressive.
- You’re reading this blog, meaning you’re open to course-correction–a crucial component of business growth.
It’s Time to Think About Your Business on a Deeper Level
There are almost limitless ways for you to expand your business, boost your bottom line, and live the freedom-filled life you deserve.
A frequent difference-maker for my clients is leaving their comfort zones to focus on high-value tasks. Another huge boon to owners is learning how to delegate. Or the simple act of joining a group of fellow, like-minded, similarly driven entrepreneurs has helped them grow their business exponentially.
Even still, some factors go beyond the behaviors and corrective measures discussed above. Namely, I’m talking about your business’s values (right now), mission (today), vision (one day), and purpose (your forever), which all act as your forest through the trees.
When things get crazy, and you’re getting pulled in a million different directions, these big-picture business elements hone your focus and keep you on the straight and narrow.
Disclaimer: Defining Your Values, Mission, Vision, and Purpose ISN’T a Magic Bullet.
Take a moment to mull over the metaphor below:
Suppose you’re training for a marathon. Of course, your main focus should be the race itself and the physical activity that gets you through it. That means lots of running.
But what happens when all you do is run every day? Typically, you’ll plateau and not reach peak fitness levels, or you’ll get injured. That’s why most experienced marathon runners map out a plan involving strength training and rest to prevent injuries and improve performance.
Now, if all you did was weightlift and rest, you probably could barely run a mile. So, it’s not like you can suddenly neglect running because you’ve added these elements. They’re just meant to complement your main objective: kicking butt for 20-plus miles.
In a similar vein, mapping out your values, mission, vision, and purpose won’t be a cure-all for all things wrong with your business. They can’t stand alone and must align with viable systems and philosophies that further enhance growth potential.
Additionally, just like weightlifting and rest prevent injuries and help overcome plateaus during marathon training, defining these elements will stop your company from stalling out over the long haul.
What’s the Main Idea Behind Defining Your Values, Mission, Vision, and Purpose?
I have an ongoing discussion with many of my clients. It revolves around working “ON” your business instead of “IN” your business.
Working “ON” your business means concerning yourself with big-picture details like values, mission, vision, and purpose. Working “IN” your business means blindly doing tasks without much thought.
A crucial component of working “ON” your business is creating a series of easily repeatable systems. This way, you can delegate tasks and trust the work will be done correctly. And you can keep your focus on high-value work that grows your enterprise.
Here’s a problem you could run into:
Say you’ve not yet defined your values, mission, vision, and purpose. But you’re trying to delegate and form partnerships that help your company expand. Unfortunately, without establishing these foundational elements, everyone else within your business won’t know how to embody them.
Conversely, defining your values, mission, vision, and purpose offers the following advantages:
- Helps maintain consistency across all business activities, from day-to-day decision making to big-picture initiatives
- Provides context to gauge whether you’re veering off course or remaining on course
- Gives you a clear direction in your head
- Offers clarity when there’s a lack of cohesion
- Offsets any confusion between you and your cofounders and employees
Now, without further adieu, I’ll examine each big picture element - mission, value, vision, and purpose - in more specific detail.
Defining Your Company’s Today (Mission)
Your company’s mission is its here-and-now. It’s the current actions you’re taking and where your brand brings abstract ideas into their physical form.
At the center of your mission statement should be defining the methods that bring you closer to your purpose. Moreover, it adds cohesion to your team’s efforts while letting your target audience know how you offer them value.
Here are some tips on how to develop your company’s mission statement:
First, You’ll Need a Vague Idea of Your Purpose.
The order in which you can define these big-picture elements is up for debate. It’s almost a chicken-and-egg scenario in that sense. What comes first? And what comes last?
In the case of this guide, mission comes first, and purpose comes last–but it’s not so cut and dry.
Your purpose is almost like the big picture of your big picture. As such, it’s the final section in the guide. But, since it’s so crucial to your values, mission, and vision, you’ll - at least - need a vague idea of your core purpose when working on everything else.
Describe Where Your Company Excels
You don’t need to spend much time listing where your company thrives. For instance, OwnersUp excels at group accountability and goal achievement for service- based business owners.
As per the example, these activities you list should all be vital to business growth.
Delve into the Details About Reaching Your Endgame
Look beyond the mechanical humdrum of what and how you’re doing at this very moment in time.
For instance, a shoe company catered to the elderly isn’t “offering comfortable footwear to geriatrics.” Instead, they’re “empowering seniors to live life to the fullest during their golden years.”
In other words, you want to be specific–but avoid the operational nuts and bolts.
Prioritize an Economy of Words
A drawn-out mission statement chockful of buzzwords will only serve to confuse you, your partners, and your team. Keep it focused on one specific thing you do exceptionally well.
Explain Why You Stand Out From the Pack
A well-written mission statement explains without any confusion why your business is different from the rest.
Need a jumping-off point?
If so, first define what your business isn’t before transitioning to what makes you unique.
Also, don’t be afraid to edit. Your mission statement is crucial, and you should take time to fine-tune it until the wording is perfect. The key is getting it on paper ASAP, so it doesn’t live inside your head too long. Ideas get lost that way.
Use This Checklist to Help Define Your Mission:
Ensure that your mission statement follows these core tenets:
- It’s clear and concise
- Doesn’t use buzzwords or elaborate language
- It’s easy for others to explain
- It isn’t the same as your vision statement
- It must be distinctively yours, and people should recognize it accordingly
Ask and answer these questions (keep responses short):
- Who is your target audience?
- How do you provide value to your clients based on their needs?
- What’s your competitive edge (or unique trait) when delivering value?
- Where do you work?
- How would you broadly describe what your company does (e.g., OwnersUP provides accountability and peer group facilitation)?
What’s an Example of a Mission Statement?
OwnersUP mission statement:
Our mission is to empower business owners to live their full potential through accountability & community.
Furthermore, here isa list of mission statements from some of the world’s biggest corporations for further inspiration.
Defining Your Company’s “Right Now” (Values)
Your company’s values don’t directly involve your business activities or practices (though they might indirectly involve them). Instead, they’re centered around the following components:
- Your company culture
- How each team member acts independently
- How everyone interacts together.
Here’s Why You Must Prioritize Company Values
Clearly defined company values drastically and positively impact employee performance.
To the above point,a survey of 4 major airlines cited the following results:
Companies with higher employee motivation and satisfaction - both key indicators of healthy workplace culture - also performed well in customer satisfaction. Since these employees know their “why,” they deliver superior results with their responsibilities.
Cultivating such a culture means establishing what your business stands for. And you must decide what it won’t stand for. Doing so will solidify your culture, attracting team members with the same values. Your colleagues/employees will then equal your passion for the work you’re all doing.
Furthermore, knowing your values inside out will insightfully guide your decisions and maintain consistency. This notion applies to anything from hiring choices to investments and partnerships.
Keeping aligned with your values will also establish trust within your team and with your clients. Because they can all count on you staying true to what you hold dear.
Additionally, solidified values differentiate your business as an employer brand and in the marketplace. Consumers want to know that they’re purchasing from positive,well-meaning companies that put their best foot forward. Part of that involves a thriving team culture that’s evident in your relationship with clients.
Read on for the following tips that help you define your company’s values:
Start With Personal Core Values
Before doing anything in business, you should always look into the mirror.
Concerning this guide, looking in the mirror means asking yourself about your own values.
Owners must use their personal principles to inspire their company’s values-based framework. After all, you’re the one calling the shots, so your company’s values need to line up with your own.
During the process of developing your core values, ask yourself the following questions:
- Which values do you currently stand for?
- What values do you want to stand for one day?
- What does your version of success look like?
Incorporate Company Leaders in the Process
To drive results and improve culture, all company leaders need to buy into its purported values. Be mindful, as your delegation efforts continue to grow, the people leading those projects will set the example for other employees (and your clients).
A diverse room of intelligent minds will generate thoughtful, contrasting outlooks on life. Your team leaders will all have their own perspectives and provide insightful input from unique angles. From there, it’s possible to define well-rounded values that align with everyone instead of just you, the owner.
Now, some of my clients have only just begun outsourcing and delegating. In which case, you might not have other leaders within your company just yet.
Don’t worry–you can still formulate your values in a group setting. The same brainstorming can occur with your spouse, close friends, or another team member with leadership potential.
Figure Out the Best Version of Your Company
Discuss with your team what it looks like when your company is in peak form.
Then jot down any phrases or terms that differentiate your team from your competitors. For instance, the work environment might be loose and playful. Or, maybe it’s more formal and detail-focused.
Note that in this stage of the process, specificity is king. As is creativity.
Decide On Your Hard-Fast Rules
Make a list of sticking points that you and your team won’t compromise on, no matter the circumstances. Even if your business is at risk, you’ll be okay with not bending on these issues.
Categorize. Then Refine.
You must break down your list of business characteristics into the 4 specific categories below. This way, you’ll have a refined list of your core, essential values:
- The Bare Minimum:
- These values are base level or cut-off point values you expect from your lowest-level employees.
- Examples are honesty, courtesy, and reliability.
- Typically, these values won’t set your business apart from your competitors.
- Unconscious Traits:
- Some values develop through no specific effort and form themselves based on your team members’ personalities and habits.
- These play out in your overall culture but not consciously or purposefully.
- While these aren’t negative, they aren’t necessarily a priority.
- Reaching for the Stars:
- Your company aspires to these characteristics and values. But you aren’t quite there yet, nor do these traits develop naturally.
- Be aware: holding onto an aspirational value might lead to never reaching it. Be realistic about these, or let go when need be.
- The Deep-Rooted Convictions:
- This category comes down to your core values.
- These will dictate how you conduct business anddifferentiate you from your industry rivals.
- Prioritize these values the most.
Quality Trumps Quantity
Keep number limits on your core values–otherwise, what’s most important might get lost in the shuffle.
Moreover, as an example, it’s challenging to remember 13 core values compared to 3. You’re better off focusing on a few quality traits that resonate with your team than overloading them with meaningless fluff.
Beyond that, overloading your list of values will eventually lead to you - the owner - forgetting at least 1 of them. And that’s a bad look for any entrepreneur. Owners need to know everything about their business’s big picture.
Make Your Values Memorable
Instead, write values out concisely and specific to your organizational culture so that they’re easy for everyone to remember. And put them on a permanent document that everyone can access when they need a refresher. No napkins or sticky notes!
Examples of Core Values
Just for context, I’ll paraphrase Google’s core values:
- By prioritizing our users, everything else will follow.
- Do one thing exceptionally well.
- Fast is superior to slow.
- Democracy works on the internet.
- Needing answers isn’t limited to being at your desk.
- You don’t need to be evil to make money.
- More information always exists.
- The need for information is global and has no borders.
- A suit isn’t a requirement of being serious.
- Greatness isn’t good enough.
Google’s example is only scratching the surface–and barely at that. So,here’s a link to a list of 190 other examples of company values for some helpful inspiration.
Defining “One Day” for Your Company (Vision)
Dreams typically don’t come true because they don’t come to life. Most often, they remain a figment of your imagination.
On the other hand, your vision is more tangible–but it’s still aspirational. And through the lens of your business, a vision gives you something concrete to work toward. You’re mapping out a future that looks much better than your current day.
In short, your vision answers the “where” of your business, dictating the direction it’s heading and what you want it to look like 1 day down the road.
Defining your vision means you’re sharing the story of your business’s future, why it’s here, and the intended destination. Most importantly, establishing a vision pulls your attention away from more granular details and gets you focused on the big picture. From there, it’s possible to align the work you’re doing today with the future.
What Will Your Vision-Statement Do for Your Business?
Through an expertly crafted vision statement, your organization will enjoy the following benefits:
When you focus on something, it gains forward momentum.
A vision statement focuses on your company’s version of winning, allowing all involved to be more intentional and specific with their actions.
With this heightened purpose and focus, the better the chances you’ll do what needs to be done to reach your goals (e.g., delegating, bursting out of your comfort zone).
A Boost in Energy
Establishing a vision reinforces the difference your company makes to its clients’ lives (and its broader global impact). These factors convey the magnitude of what you and your team are doing, giving everyone an inspirational energy boost during tougher workdays.
A well-executed vision statement tells you what requires your focus.
But, almost more importantly, it tells where you shouldn’t waste your energy, resources, and time. Thus, you’ll end up only focusing on things that keep your company on the correct path.
Don’t Be Afraid to Dream–At First.
As much as your vision must be more tangible than a wide-eyed dream, you still need that inspirational seed.
So, when you think about your business’s future, initially, be a little bit imaginative. Don’t sweat the what and how just yet. Only focus on your loftiest aspirations, then flesh it out into something more practical as you move forward.
If You Can’t Measure, You Can’t Get Better.
From those lofty, imaginative dreams discussed above, establish a goal that’s 50% to 70% achievable in 3 to 5 years.
You’re filtering down here. But you’re still aiming high, putting plenty of faith in your team’s critical thinking, resourcefulness, and creativity in seeking out growth opportunities.
Measure With Purpose
You’ll accomplish whatever you decide to measure. At this point, it’s a Universal law. So, be sure your metrics are applied logically based on your goals.
Whether your goal is to serve pizzas or make people feel financially secure, metrics must align with your vision.
Know the Difference Between Your Vision and Mission Statements
Mission statements and vision statements often get confused.
That’s why, below, I’ve distinguished the differences between these 2 core big-picture business elements:
- A mission statement explains why your business exists. It also defines what you do and why you do it.
- Conversely, a vision statement explains your business’s ideal future and illustrates the impact you want to have globally.
- In other words, the mission is what your company is, and your vision is where you want to be.
Use These Checkpoints to Craft Your Vision Statement
Ensure that your vision statement follows these core tenets:
- Keep it straightforward and brief.
- Don’t rely on buzzwords or technical language.
- Make it easy to explain for the relevant parties.
- Don’t confuse a vision statement with a mission statement.
Ask and answer these questions (keep responses short):
- What are the major obstacles, problems, or issues that must be changed or conquered?
- Why do you need to address these issues, and how are they impacting your business?
- What strengths and assets do your company and its clients have?
- In an ideal world, what will your business eventually look like?
- What’s the picture of success for your company?
What’s an Example of a Vision Statement?
OwnersUP vision statement:
“One day, every US service-based business owner will have a group of peers to soundboard and help them grow their business.”
You’ll probably need a few more vision statements for further inspiration, sohere are 22 examples that’ll help you write your own.
Defining Your Business’s Forever (Purpose)
One could argue that your company’s purpose is the glue that holds its values, mission, and vision statements together. It’s also a unifying force.
Your defined purpose should guide you from the first day you branched out on your own to 20 years down the road when you’re a bonafide captain of industry.
Realistically, values, mission, and vision could maybe stand on their own. However, they sometimes exist as separate entities that don’t mesh. As a result, they might slip through the cracks. After all, the growing demands of the business world can make even the most pure-hearted business owner forget what’s left and what’s right.
Think about all the ebbs and flows that can happen day-to-day, month-to-month, year-to-year, and decade-over-decade. Not only will you change as a person, but your customers will grow, and their needs will evolve.
As a business owner, you’re in a perpetual state of flux, constantly trying to pivot and adjust. So, yes, it’s easy to forget the core tenets of your company’s identity.
Through all that change, which will no doubt involve heartbreaks, triumphs, and everything in between, your purpose will be there. Steady and unwavering. Better yet, it will drive you and your teams to conquer all challenges without losing touch with who you are.
Also Known As a “Position Statement”
A position statement and purpose statement are essentially one and the same and are used interchangeably.
Regardless of the terminology, you’re using 1 sentence to describe your company’s focus with your audience. It’s the broadest reason for your company’s existence and the most general guideline for how it must conduct itself.
There’s Plenty of Overlap with the Other Core Big-Picture Elements
Since your purpose statement is the overarching glue that holds your mission, values, and vision together, there’s plenty of overlap with the other sections in this guide.
For instance, defining your purpose requires that you:
- Know your “why.”
- Define your client base (or your “who”).
- Establish your service/product offerings (this would be your “what”).
- Be aware of what differentiates your business from the pack.
But - outside of what I’ve already discussed - a few other techniques might help you craft your core purpose statement. I’ll examine them below:
Create a List of Keywords to Focus On
Purpose-oriented keywords are the go-to terms used within your organization that unite and motivate everyone to perform. These words have this impact because they embody your company’s essence.
Feedback is a Must
If possible, I suggest forming a purpose statement committee of organizational leaders who can add their own ideas and provide feedback.
Go beyond the committee, too. Hearing stakeholder input will prove valuable. Also, ask other lower-level employees–because your purpose statement will impact them, as well.
What Questions Should You Ask When Crafting Your Purpose Statement?
What was your primary source of inspiration when starting your company (besides making money)?
Did your source of inspiration involve a passion, technological/product innovation, area of expertise, or were you emotionally driven to follow your own path?
What’s your organization’s origin (or founding) story?
In what ways has your business evolved since you founded it?
From here, try - a few times - to filter your answers down to one sentence.
Then, filter it down even further into a sentence of 5 words or less. Again, this will take a few attempts.
What’s an Example of a Purpose Statement?
The most concise purpose statement is probably 3M’s “solve unsolved problems innovatively.” It establishes perfectly the reason for the company’s existence in 4 words. You can’t ask for better.
Note that you don’t need to keep your purpose statement below 5 words. Many companies go beyond that–it’s just a good place to start since simplicity wins the day.
Here’s a list of otherdynamic purpose statements to inspire you and help develop your own.
These Core Big-Picture Elements Offer Stability As Your Business Grows.
A firm understanding of your business’s mission, values, vision, and purpose will provide you with steady footing during unsteady times. And it will keep your head on straight when you’re growing so fast it seems like you can’t keep up.
By following this guide, you’ll have created a standard, a source of inspiration, and a sense of excitement surrounding your business. While other factors will demand the bulk of your attention, what I’ve discussed will help keep your feet to the ground and your finger on the pulse of your bigger picture.