Your Company’s Purpose Is Not Its Vision, Mission, or Values – Graham Kenny – Harvard Business Review

onbusIf we reach back into a previous article from The Business Concierge, The 3 P’s,  you will find that the keystone idea that we called purpose covers an important area of our business that sets us up for the future. The vision, the mission, the values, and the strategies all tie into the ‘purpose keystone’.

For me, the perceived differences between the different statements discussed in the article  linked below is not the take home message. Instead, the message that is worth reflecting on should be that all small business owners and entrepreneurs need to do some work on ‘thinking about your business’. After the initial thinking about who you are and how do you want to do business is done, it is then important, even vital that you work out how to best communicate that thinking to your employees, your customers, and to your wider stakeholders.

When you watch a ‘save my business’ type of programme, you will see that the first thing the ‘expert’ does is to remove the owners from their business and send them away for a weekend or a week. This gives the owners a chance to regroup and more importantly, reflect on what is happening in their firm and what they would like to change going forward. Re-invigorated, the business owners often come back with great plans of what and how happens from here that they are excited to share with staff and customers.

You need to arrange your mini-break away. This could be a weekend away (oh yes please 😉 ) but could also be taking an hour out to meet with a business mentor or specialist (yup, that could be me).  Fleshing out your thoughts about your business is all part of the strategic purpose work that owners need to undertake to ensure the on-going viability of their firm. You would have heard the term ‘working on your business instead of working in your business’ bandied about like some kind of catch phrase. Well the strategic purpose stuff is working on your business.

A common criticism of businesses is that the owners are so integral to the functioning of the business, making the products and services, selling them, tending the shop/workshop etc., that there is no time to take care of the bigger picture.

I get that, from the age of 20- 28, I  owned and ran a hairdressing salon that was open six days a week. I worked in it for all six days. On the seventh day I did bookwork and caught up on the over-flow of laundry. It was a busy life as I took on the overwhelming majority of roles in the business. What I failed to realise  is that I needed time to be able to work on the future direction of the business, where did I want it to go from here, how did I want to ensure that happened.

I was great at doing this for my staff. I would often give them a budget of $100- $200 and send them off shopping for an afternoon. They would need to research, and then put together some outfits that were on-point for fashion for the upcoming season. They would then come back and design the hair and make-up to round off that look. The staff then wore the clothes and make-up in the store as to reflect and own the creativity and fashion they were recommending and selling to others.

This worked well for my customers and staff, but I still needed to be more deliberate in my business decision making so I could actually achieve the somewhat vague business goals that swam around in my head. Some regular time with a mentor would have helped me gain some clarity, it would have also ensured that I was better at communicating my companies vision to my employees and customers. Perhaps, it would have meant that instead of harvesting that business part-way through my undergraduate degree, I could have stayed with it.

As I mentioned above, communication of your purpose keystone is important. In essence, you are creating a big marker flag to plant in the ground for your stakeholders to see, to aim for, and to reach. By using vison and misson statements you are broadly defining who your are and how you want to engage in business. Your values and purpose break those ideals down further so your employees and customers know how you plan to do that. They become guiding statements of acceptable behaviour or the implicit rules of how people interact with your processes in your business. Those rules become the backbone of ‘how things are done around here’ and in turn a reason why your clients develop loyalty to your business.

Probably a lot to take away from one interesting little article, but business owners need to be able to articulate what they want from their companies.

If you would like a sounding board or mentor to help get you started working on your business, please get in touch, we are happy to help.

Your Company’s Purpose Is Not Its Vision, Mission, or Values – Graham Kenny – Harvard Business Review.