Day 1: Evaluate Your Mission Statement
by Esther Steinfeld on April 05, 2010
Congratulations! You’re finally starting your business. Or, you’ve already started one, and you’re pouring blood, sweat, and money into helping it succeed. One of your goals for 2010 should be to take a long, hard look at not just how you’re doing business, but why. Moving forward, it is critical that you have a clear, concise vision or mission statement that clearly defines why you are in business in the first place. Even if you run the most successful company in the world, it is critical to reevaluate your vision once a year. If you’re serious about becoming a business rock star, take to heart these four lesson from other successful entrepreneurs whose visions are central to their organizations’ success.
If you have a great idea, 'they' will come
Ask yourself, “Do I really have a good idea?” Many times, we set out with the intention of starting the next great business without considering whether there is a need for said business. The best new businesses address social and economic holes or solve problems. If you have a product or service that is truly ground-breaking, you are off to a good start. Don't try to reinvent the wheel. As you reevaluate your organization’s purpose, that you talk to friends, confidants, and consultants who will be honest with you about whether your venture has a good chance of succeeding.
You should be able to sum up your vision in a sentence or two
The best vision statements are short and to the point. They briefly explain what the organization will try to accomplish. Remember, use your vision statement to determine where to allocate resources. In business, there can be a lot of opportunities and a lot of distractions. Be lazer-focused, and only pursue those opportunities that you are certain will help you move forward. Save the major risks for when you are better established.
A lack of consensus internally about your company's mission can be detrimental to growth
Communication is critical as your organization launches. Just because you are clear on your objectives does not mean that your team is. Reiterate often your vision, and create an environment in which team members want to make that vision a reality as much as you do. Struggle is inevitable; laying out clear goals and ensuring everyone is working as one to achieve them will get you through difficult times.
Accept that your vision will change over time.
Nothing is written in stone (anymore). We use computers. Erasable ink pens... We have the ability to edit. Some of the world’s greatest companies started out going one direction and found their business morphing into something they never expected. As important as your mission is to your business, insisting on keeping your business on the path you originally saw it taking is a short-sighted approach. Flexibility is a virtue. Your organization will benefit for your ability to accept change. You cannot always control how people use your product or service, so target those segments of the market that seem to be the best fit. Adjust your vision over time, and take new direction into account.
Believe in your mission
Why should anybody else be your mission if you are not? John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil and now-Founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy believes that the oil industry is teeming with misinformation. Combining his corporate experience and industry knowledge, he created AffordableEnergy.com.
“Our purpose is to educate people where they live so that everyone in this country has a good understanding of what's at stake when it comes to our energy and environmental future,” said Hofmeister. He goes on to describe the “Four Mores” of AffordableEnergy.com, and what it will look like for the United States to be educated and provided for, energy-wise. Hofmeister recognized a need, that people had no idea where their energy came from and how much they were over-consuming. His new venture seeks to provide people with solutions that make sense. Make sure that your mission is strong and unique, and then be its biggest supporter. Your enthusiasm will be contagious within your organization.
No matter what stage you are at in the process of building your business, focus on evaluating and reevaluating your mission. It will help get you through the slow periods and inspire you when you feel burned out. Do not neglect it.Make sure you introduce yourself on the fan page. You can comment here or join the Day 1 discussion on Facebook.
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