Defining your business may seem like an extremely intricate and difficult task. After all, how you define your business could make or break it. Starting a business is exciting, so you may often be early to rise and eager to plan, but it’s important to be thoughtful about the steps in the process. Vision is the first step to starting a business. Your vision is where the company wants to bring the community and the world around you. It’s important to create a personal vision plan before you do anything else because your personal values should define your business. You wouldn’t be starting a new endeavor if you didn’t have the vision to create something. Once you have your vision, then before you suit up and start selling there are three important items to outline: your mission, corporate philosophy, and strategic objectives.
The Ultimate Goal: Defining Your Mission
A mission statement is what the company does to create the vision. Your mission statement defines the purpose of your business. When considering your mission, you must reflect your unique purpose for starting the business in the first place. Why did you decide to embark on this new venture? You need to be clear and concise when communicating the purpose of your business. Don’t be too specific when providing details about your product and target markets within your mission, you want to keep this simple and clear. Flexibility is also a key component of a mission statement. You should consider how your mission can be achieved over the long term, but build in enough flexibility to adjust to if circumstances may change.
Here are examples of a mission statement and a vision:
Vision: All hard-working people should enjoy a comfortable retirement.
Mission: To offer responsible, accessible retirement planning solutions.
The Way You Go About Achieving the Ultimate Goal
Your corporate philosophy defines your values, what your business stands for, and how you go about achieving your mission. As we’ve mentioned before, it is crucial to institutionalize your business, and ensuring everyone in your organization embraces your corporate philosophy is a large aspect of this. Let’s compare our mission to our corporate philosophy. If a firm’s mission statement is to achieve high return for its investors, but the corporate philosophy is “by any means necessary,” that’s a far different company than one whose mission is to achieve high returns but whose philosophy is to maintain ethical standards. It’s important to be transparent and honest when establishing your corporate philosophy.
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I like to follow the A-B-C approach. Your actions in relation to your stated value and standards will let others know if you are truly committed to your philosophy. When it comes to your beliefs, don’t include anything in your corporate philosophy that you don’t truly stand for. It’s also important to clearly communicate your corporate philosophy to those within and outside of your firm.
How You Direct Resources to Achieve the Ultimate Goal
The final aspect of defining your business is to set your strategic objective, which identifies how you are going to direct your resources to achieve your ultimate goal. You’ll need to break down the ultimate goal into smaller strategic goals. Strategic goals are an important part of strategic planning which involves a step by step approach to problem-solving and operational efficiency. Strategic goals are generally short-range goals that may take a year or two to complete, whereas a strategic objective could take five or six years to reach. Your strategic goals must align with your vision, corporate philosophy, mission, and ultimate goal. As they say, you must crawl before you can walk.
Write Your Plan and Set it in Stone
It’s extremely important to establish a clear vision and objectives for your business and to put this plan in writing. If you aren’t clear on your company mission, goals, and objectives, how will your employees, or worse, your customers understand your company and the value it can bring? Many business owners want quick solutions and end up taking shortcuts, failing to implement the full business plan they may or may not have written out. Once again, a written business plan communicates how your organization is to be run. You need to list and explain your goals so that your employees know how to execute tasks that align with your mission, corporate philosophy, and strategic objective.
Many business owners find it difficult to identify a clear business objective because their personal life goals conflict with their business goals. I recently wrote a piece explaining why business owners should focus on personal vision to attain professional success. The goals you set will depend on the type of business owner you are and the type of business you want to run. You will save yourself a lot of time and energy if you survey your business goals while focusing on your personality profile to see if the two are compatible before you derive your strategic business plan.
At this point you may have established your vision/mission statement, corporate philosophy and strategic objective but… have you written your conclusions down? Many business owners fail because they don’t adhere to the mission or objectives they have.
Are You Ready to Suit Up?
If you’ve developed your personal vision and integrated this into the vision for your business, I believe you’re on your way. But make sure you’ve clearly established a company mission, philosophy, and objectives before you suit up and start working. Planning, clarifying, and implementing these strategies are the keys to define your business.
Past performance does not guarantee future results. The views presented are those of Don Schreiber, Jr., and should not be construed as investment advice or trade recommendations.