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A Great Success Plan, Part 2

Welcome to the second installment in a series of articles about creating a solid plan for your business. A great plan is an effective tool for businesses of any age, and if you don’t have a written plan for where your enterprise is heading, this is the series you don’t want to miss! If you missed part 1, click here to read it.

In Part 1, we addressed the importance of answering a few key questions in order to cast a vision for the business. In this installment we look at your ‘Why’. In other words, why does your business exist? What do you stand for? What will be your foundation? Answering these questions effectively leads you to a pretty clear definition of your Mission.

Simon Sinek, author of “Start With Why” says that ‘people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it’. Your why is a critical component of your overall success plan.

I’m sure you are familiar with the comic strip character “Dilbert”. In one particular strip, Dilbert’s pointy-haired boss tries his hand at writing a Mission Statement. Here’s what he came up with: “We enhance stockholder value through strategic business initiatives by empowered employees working in new team paradigms.”  Bleh. A great example of how NOT to write a Mission Statement!

Wikipedia defines Mission Statement as “a formal, short, written statement of the purpose of a company or organization.” What commitments will you make to your customers? Why will customers buy from you?

A Mission Statement should be built on the principles or beliefs that guide your work. This is the opportunity to define the values your business will be built upon.

“A Mission Statement defines in a paragraph or so any entity’s reason for existence.  It embodies its philosophies, goals, ambitions and mores. Any entity that attempts to operate without a mission statement runs the risk of wandering through the world without having the ability to verify that it is on its intended course.”  (Missionstatements.com)

Mission statements are not about money, which are included in your Vision Statement. This is not about how great you are, it’s about what motivates and inspires you and your organization. Christopher Bart, a leading researcher in the art of mission statements says,

“A good mission statement captures an organization’s unique and enduring reason for being, and energizes stakeholders to pursue common goals. It also enables a focused allocation of organizational resources because it compels a firm to address some tough questions: What is our business? Why do we exist? What are we trying to accomplish?” (Bart, 1998)

The benefits of a well-crafted Mission Statement include:

  • It serves to keep you from drifting off course.
  • Forces clarity and deep thinking about who you are, what you do and why.
  • Helps your staff to act with a common purpose.
  • Defines what the company will NOT do.
  • Informs your customers of the benefits and advantages of doing business with you.
  • Reflects the owner’s passion and commitment.
  • Supports your Vision Statement.

Developing your ‘Why’ and crafting it into a Mission is a significant investment in the future direction and success of your business. It takes time to brainstorm and work through the thought process to generate an effective outcome, but it is worth every effort.