Have you heard the story of President John F Kennedy visiting NASA headquarters in 1961?

While touring the facilities, JFK introduced himself to a janitor, whom was mopping the floor and asked him what he did at NASA.

The janitor answered: “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

Even though he wasn’t in the control room or on the Saturn V itself, the janitor clearly understood NASA’s vision and his part in it – he understood his purpose working for them.

If you were to reflect on your own business, do you know your business’ mission and objectives?

More importantly, does everyone who works for you know?

Can they clearly articulate why the business exists and why it does what it does?

This is about defining the businesses vision and core purpose.

Fundamentally, once you have captured your vision, all the subsequent ideas and actions to grow your business can then be sense-checked and aligned to your core purpose.

Mission and Objectives

The mission statement is the company’s number one goal; it describes the company’s vision, including the unchanging values and purpose of the firm, as well as forward-looking visionary goals that guide the pursuit of future opportunities.

Guided by the business’ vision, the company’s leaders can define measurable financial and strategic objectives.

Financial objectives involve measures such as sales targets and earnings growth.

Strategic objectives relate to the company’s position, steering the business to its desired destination.

Strategic goals may include factors such as market share and reputation.

While a business must continually adapt to its competitive environment, there are certain core ideals that remain relatively steady and provide guidance in the process of strategic decision making.

The unchanging ideals from the business vision are expressed in the company’s mission statement.

The mission statement communicates the company’s core ideology, generally consisting of three components:
1. The core values to which the company is committed
2. The core purpose of the company
3. Visionary goals the company will pursue to fulfil its mission

The company’s core values and purposes remain relatively constant.

They are independent of industry structure and product life cycle.

The mission statement is not creating the ideology, simply an ideology which already exists.

How to define your mission

Step 1: Define your core values

Before you attempt to grow your business, it is critical for you to understand your personal core values.

These are your defining principles and work ethics that define how you do business and how you relate to your customers, your suppliers and each other (your team).

Although you may not have actually articulated these or written them down, they will almost certainly exist.

They normally relate back to the original driving force that motivated you to start the business in the first place – things that you didn’t like with a previous employer, or a personal belief that you could make a difference and do things differently.

You should only expand your business with like-minded people who share the same values with you.

These may be things like: customer focus, trust, commitment – or, as recently demonstrated by one of our clients in the construction industry – perfection.

This company experienced exactly the same challenge with growth as your business may be experiencing; they had employed a high flying operations manager, with an excellent track record at corporate level; despite his exceptional credentials, it soon became apparent that he didn’t share the same values as the company.

He was happy with giving the customer 90 per cent, when the business had been built on a reputation of perfection.

Clearly, this was never going to work and they agreed to go their separate ways.

So, when growing your business, make sure that anyone who joins your business absolutely shares the same values and understand that they will be a direct measure of their performance.

The core values are a few values (no more than five) that are central to the company.

Core values reflect the deeply held values of the organisation and are independent of the current environment or any current industry fads.

One way to determine whether a value is a core value is to ask whether it would continue to be supported if circumstances changed.

If the answer is that the value would be kept, it is a core value.

Core values will not change, even if the industry in which the company operates changes.

If the industry changes so that the core values are not appreciated, the firm should seek new markets where its core values are viewed as an asset.

The following are a few examples of core values that some companies have chosen:

  • Excellent customer service
  • Pioneering technology
  • Creativity
  • Integrity
  • Social responsibility

So, grab a blank sheet of paper and pencil (or your laptop) and start putting down the key words that describe the attributes you stand by and look for in people.

Note down as many as you can.

The next task is to cluster these together, as some will have a similar meanings, such as integrity; trust; confidence; expectation; then choose one which is closest to describing your core underlying value.

Ideally, you don’t want to end up with more than five.

A great way to check whether these are your true values is to determine whether you would stick to them, even if the business were to fail, or go through difficult times.

If you would drop one of your chosen values, then it’s not a core value for you.

Step 2: Define your core purpose

Often, we try and define our business around the products or services we sell or specialise in.

When planning our growth, this can lead to becoming too orientated around your business, rather than your customers.

Specifically, many lose sight of the needs they are satisfying for their customers and what the wider market opportunity is elsewhere for satisfying these same needs in other ways.

So, it’s vital, when attempting to focus our growth and explore relevant market opportunities, to think about:

  • What business you are in
  • Customer need before products or services
  • Being more flexible in how we continue to fulfil customer needs to stay competitive

The task here is to write down the key words and create a sentence on what the customer buys or experiences (from their perspective) when dealing with you and your business.

Some corporate examples of business purposes:
3M : To solve unsolved problems innovatively.
Hewlett-Packard : To make technical contributions for the advancement and welfare of humanity.
Merck : To preserve and improve human life.
Nike : To experience the emotion of competition, winning, and crushing competitors.
Sony : To experience the joy of advancing and applying technology for the benefit of the public.
Walt Disney : To make people happy.

These capture why these businesses exist and why they do what they do.

What's yours?

I would be interested in hearing what your businesses core purpose is and how you came about choosing it, so please feel free to get in touch or share the article on social media.

Interested in learning about the next steps or more about how to build a valuable business?

We will be running some Freedom seminars and workshops during October and November across Cumbria.

Please keep an eye on our events page on our website for workshops near you.

At Business Doctors we also offer free access to the Value Builder online tool , along with a free no obligation meeting to go through the key factors which will help you to understand what to work on to increase the value of your business.

If you are looking to review or grow your business even in these turbulent times, Business Doctors Cumbria offers an initial free business health check , and can help you to establish a clear vision to start working on the steps to fulfil your aspirations.

You can also speak to Peter Fleming on 07966 686112 or by email at peterfleming@businessdoctors.co.uk .