First post – so I thought I’d start with a fundamental question many business owners struggle with.

What I mean is can you answer these questions?

  • What is the core purpose of your business? What does it do at the most fundamental level?
  • Have you got a mission statement?
  • Have you got a vision statement?

If your answer is yes then you probably have a good idea of who you are. if you haven’t I urge you to do this. And don’t even think about putting a marketing plan into place or briefing an agency before you have these.

If you don’t know who you are how do you expect to explain it to others?

All three questions above will take some time and hard thought to answer. If it helps here’s some tips on defining your core purpose and writing mission statements and vision statements…

Your core purpose – this keeps your business focussed, don’t do anything that doesn’t fit it – especially when times are tough

  • What do you do? – don’t think about the details of the products or services you offer but at a higher ‘strategic’ level. Keeping it at a high level means you can adjust your products and services in line with changes without compromising your purpose.
  • Think about what fundamental need you fulfil for your customers. For example Disney’s purpose is “Keeping alive the magic of childhood”

Your mission statement – this defines how you will run the business

  • This is aimed at the leaders of the business – not everyone else.
  • It’s about where you want the business to go, or is currently, and what you want it to look like
  • Don’t overload it with broad statements of what you do. Focus on the key things that your customers want and you will do better than your competitors
  • It’s encapsulates the following
    • Your Unique Selling Point (USP) – what makes you and your products different from the competition. If you are struggling then a SWOT analysis may help.
    • How you measure success – what are the key metrics you will use to track how well you are doing – put actual target numbers against them if possible – specifically against your USP – don’t have lots, 2 or 3 is best e.g. customer satisfaction, delivery times, average customer lifetime, food freshness etc.

Your vision statement – this is your promise to staff and customers of what you strive for

  • This is aimed at everyone in the company and your customers
  • Get staff to input into it, make them central to it
  • It should reflect the ‘human’ side of your mission statement – it should empower, energise and connect with your staff and customers
  • Think about what emotional benefits you provide your customers

Many companies seem to combine mission and vision statements and they are used as a corporate PR exercise rather than a fundamental business truth. But I think this often makes them a bit ‘wooly’ – putting some target figures (or at least very specific wording) into your mission statement makes them real and measurable. After all if you don’t measure it how do you expect to manage it?