Telling your Story
When to use your Mission Statement.
There are three core audience categories for a mission statement – other than the business owner him- or herself:
- Investors and Executives
Find out how using your Mission Statement to serve these three audiences will enhance your business success.
I have introduced the concept of Mission Statements: for many people this is just a document that looks nice to show to investors and then sits in a drawer. Well today let me give you an introduction to a practical application of a Mission Statement.
In a past blog post I wrote about how your Strategy is a list of your Guiding Principles. You can think of your Mission Statement as your guiding principles for your strategy. Your mission statement tells what problem you are solving, for whom, why those people, how they will access it, etc. These things are immutable: you are solving a problem in a particular way, and you might change the product or service but it is always geared towards or dictated by that problem. And your values, principles and priorities remain, the are dictated by your business philosophy and culture.
What a Mission Statement allows you to do is turn your values into a strategy. It is really the first step in building a strategy, telling you what your starting point is and what will remain immutable.
Here is a scenario: a business starts with a founder and maybe one or two partners. They are used to working together, they get each other and there is a somewhat natural understanding of needs, priorities and working methods. As the business grows it start adding more people, and the founders expect them to just naturally understand this culture, these values and these priorities. Then you learn the hard way that education doesn’t happen by osmosis. You can not expect people to read your mind as your business grows.
There are three main scenarios in which you – as a business owner – are telling your story.
Internal Message – Your Employees
This is split in to two stages: hiring new employees and those already working for you.
If you have a mission statement that describes who you are, what you do, why you do it and how you do it, this will help you identify the candidate who works in the same way. If you can define your business culture and your mission, you will have a description of the person who will work well within your business. It is going to make it so much easier to identify the best candidates.
Once you have brought those people on board, it is your training document. Training is not just part of on boarding; training is continuous and the Mission Statement is the foundation of their training. The better they can understand it, the better they will be serving your purposes. It will give them space to act, knowing they are not betraying your values, requirements or available resources. It will give your employees autonomy, which will make them more productive, and they will be happier working for you.
External Message – Your Clients
The second audience to whom you will be telling your story is your clients and ideal market.
They want to know what you do, and why, and how. You may have heard before how price is connected to the brain and the wallet is connected to the heart: the more you can tell a story, the more you will resonate with your clients. Either because they can relate to your story or they see that your approach is genuine.
Let’s connect the two: your employees and your clients. If they have the same message it means your clients are getting a consistent experience and there is a feeling of everything being genuine. Instead of a sales/client relationship you have built a partnership between these two parties. They are working together.
The third area in which you are telling a story is to investors. If investors receive a story that – through their due diligence – is revealed to be the same story that your clients and your employees have, they will know you are sharing an honest story. It will help them understand how you are being perceived both in the market, and internally. As I have mentioned in the past, investors are mainly looking for two things: the right people and the right market.
Your Mission Statement will help you find candidates, empower your employees, build a relationship with your clients, and gain the confidence of your investors. Don’t lock it in a drawer, but refer to it regularly. When you are making decisions make sure that those decisions are in line with your mission statement.
This is how a Mission Statement can make a positive impact on your business and is worth spending a little bit of time on, at the beginning of your practice.