10 minute read
Successful Entrepreneurs and SMB Leaders (let’s call them ‘Leaders’) focus very hard on aligning their Teams with their company’s objectives. Alignment requires clarity of purpose, direction, and values. As a Leader, creating clear statements about your intentions will give you the ability to motivate, focus, and inspire your team to achieve the organization’s objectives. People crave purpose and direction at work, and the companies that provide these things are way more successful at winning customers and retaining Team members than companies that don’t. Happy Teams make happy customers. Happy customers make happy shareholders. It begins with purpose and direction. Here’s where to start:
“If you look after your staff well, they will look after your customers. Simple” – Richard Branson
Foundation 1: Vision – start with ‘WHY’ your company exists
Why does your company exist? To answer this, you’ll need to decide what your company hopes to achieve in the end. Put another way, your Vision is a statement of what your company is aiming to do in the world. It is the ultimate goal, the destination, the light at the end of the tunnel, the company’s ‘mountain top’, the guiding point for every decision that is made henceforth.
Leaders define the value and success of their companies in a lot of different ways. Some use financial metrics such as net income, net assets, and the ability to sell the business for a profit. Others believe that building a business that supports their family and the families of their employees is most important. Some Leaders might be focused on charitable endeavors or community involvement or finding a way to make the world a better place. Whatever your definition is, it needs to be clearly stated and understood in order for success to follow.
Here are 7 examples of inspiring vision (WHY) statements:
- IKEA: To create a better everyday life for the many people.
- Prezi: To reinvent how people share knowledge, tell stories, and inspire their audiences to act.
- Achen Henderson CPAs: We’re here to help entrepreneurs and business leaders build great companies.
- Microsoft: To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
- Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
- Southwest Air: To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.
- Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
- UBER: Make transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere, for everyone.
“To see, we must aim… what you aim at determines what you see” – Jordan B. Petersen
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe” – Simon Sinek
Foundation 2: Mission – articulate ‘WHAT’ your company does
What does your company do to achieve its Vision? A clear mission statement should define what the company does for its customers, its internal Team, its vendors, the community, and its owners. If the vision statement is the light at the end of the tunnel, the mission statement is the mode of transportation through the tunnel. If your Mission is unclear, your Team will fill in the blanks individually, on their own, resulting in higher turnover, reduced productivity, and increased difficulty reaching your target customers. In fact, it’s likely that you won’t even be able to identify your target clients without a clear Mission.
Here are 7 examples of clear and meaningful mission (WHAT) statements:
- IKEA: To create a better everyday life for many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them
- Prezi: We’re a presentation resource, on a mission to reinvent how people share knowledge, tell stories and inspire their audiences to act
- Achen Henderson CPAs: We deliver custom Automated Accounting Systems; we become our client’s virtual finance partners. We engage in mindful collaboration with our clients so that we can understand their goals and objectives. We form strategic alliances for our clients to ensure growth and opportunity. We give business leaders the tools, information and guidance they need to thrive, grow revenues, manage costs, make more informed decisions, and focus on what matters the most – their customers.
- Target: Our mission is to make Target your preferred shopping destination in all channels by delivering outstanding value, continuous innovation and exceptional guest experiences by consistently fulfilling our Expect More. Pay Less. Brand Promise.
- TED Talks: Make great ideas accessible and spark conversation.
- Honest Team: To create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages.
A mission statement is what the company does now. So it is worth noting that your Mission may change as your company moves along its journey towards achieving its Vision.
“Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission.” – Zig Ziglar
“Founding a company is hard. Most of it isn’t smooth. You’ll have to make very hard decisions. You have to fire a few people. Therefore, if you don’t believe in your mission, giving up is easy. The majority of founders give up. But the best founders don’t give up”. – Mark Zuckerberg
Foundation 3: Core Values – define ‘HOW’ you get it done
How does your company carry out its Mission? Your company’s Core Values define how your company gets it done. Back to the tunnel: If your Mission is the mode of transportation through the tunnel to reach the light (the Vision), then the Core Values are how you behave (your posture, what clothes you wear, how you interact with your fellow passengers) along the journey.
Core Values are your baseline beliefs and your guiding principles that determine how your company and your Team will interact with customers, vendors, communities, and themselves. Your Core Values guide your company’s culture. They are ‘the boss’ and ‘the approval process’ for a lot of decision making going forward, more on this later.
At Achen Henderson, we have 6 core values:
- Timeliness: We are on time with all deliverables
- Accountability: We hold each other accountable to our core values, and the quality of our work
- Transparency: We are open and honest at all times with ourselves, our Clients and our Vendors
- Leadership: We think and act like Leaders every day, in every decision we make
- Integrity: We do what we say we will do
- Collaboration: We operate together, with our Clients, as a single coordinated effort that creates Value
Sharing your Core Values publicly may not be necessary, we do because one of our Core Values is ‘transparency’. In order for your Core Values to be effective, it is imperative that your Team embody them; this is how to build a company culture that works.
I mentioned earlier that core values become ‘the boss’. Our Team members have the individual freedom – the autonomy – to make decisions on their own – without approval from anyone – they just need to ask our Core Values for the answer. When there is reputation or financial risk to the company relating to the decision, the Team member will form a self-managed work-group (often involving one of our senior Leaders) to determine the best course of action. People are smart and will generally make the right decisions if they are given the right guidance and then trusted. A lovely side effect of operating this way is that it keeps the company’s Leaders focused on adding value to the company rather than wasting their time ‘putting out fires’.
“Culture helps make a large body of small decisions quicker—and a small body of large decisions easier.” – Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot co-founder.
Foundation 4: Execution and nurturing
Your Vision and Mission statement and Core Values are only words unless your company’s culture and stakeholders project them. Here’s a couple actionable items you can do to build your company’s culture around your Vision, Mission and Core Values:
- Hire for ethos, skills can be taught. Hiring the right people who share a similar vision with your company and who embody your Core Values is essential to success. Ethos is way more important than are skills, experience, and a heavy resume.
- Talk about successes often (and how you measure them) and turn problems into opportunities. We begin every Team meeting by discussing the successes we’ve had with our clients since the last week, always relating the successes to our ‘why, what, and how’. We discuss our failures openly, not to berate or discourage but to take ownership and encourage constant improvement. After all, problems are the best source of opportunities.
- Link paycheques to successes. We are firm believers in company wide profit sharing and in calculating profit share payouts based on the successes of our Team members. Success is measured according to our Vision, Mission, and Core Values.
- Tone at the top. If the leaders in the company are not living and breathing this stuff every day, the company culture will not take hold, or worse – it will be poisoned. When this happens, the chances of achieving success and retaining Team members are substantially reduced.
A clearly communicated Vision, Mission, and set of Core Values are the foundations for building a company culture that works. These give you a method to express why your company exists, what its objectives are, and how it behaves. This gives your Team a focus point, aligning them in a common purpose. Purpose and direction are key to a happy Team, a happy Team is key to happy customers, happy customers are the key to your success.
We work with Leaders to develop company cultures that work, and in developing their Leadership abilities. If you would like to learn more, please connect with us to discover your opportunities today.Connect with us