Many people WRONGLY think that a company vision and values are only necessary if you run a blue-chip organisation.
I totally disagree 🙅
Just because you own a SMALL business, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a mission, vision, or company values. After all, these are super-important manifestations of your brand and should drive everything you do – including your leadership style and how you manage performance. 🏎
This blog is designed to get you thinking about WHY you’re in business, what you want YOUR legacy to be, and HOW you articulate that.
If you don't have a vision or values, it’s never too late to start. Even if you’ve been in business for a while 👍 And if you do have them, it's worth reflecting whether they are clear, concise and relevant?
CAN YOU PASS THE LIFT TEST?
Picture the scene. You’re in a lift and somebody asks you what your business does. What’s your answer?
And more importantly, can you express what you do in a few seconds, before the lift doors open? ⏰
This what I playfully call ‘The Lift Test’ 😜 It’s often referred to as ‘The Elevator Pitch’. It’s about being able to sell yourself – or your business in this case – in a concise but compelling way.
People’s attention spans are very short these days. Eight seconds apparently! So, whether you’ve met a potential customer at a trade show, or you’re trying to lure new talent to your business – you need to be able to say what you do and why. And, your vision or mission statement can help you to do this.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MISSION, VISION, AND VALUES?
I get it! It can be super-confusing 🤔
In a nutshell, they’re words to describe what you do, how you do it, and what difference you’re trying to make to your customer’s lives. But most importantly, they should be the driving force behind how you run your business and how you lead your team.
To explain this further, check out my example below 👇
➡ Your mission should describe what you do today
For example, ‘We help food businesses to dispose of their food waste in a responsible way’
➡ Your vision should describe the impact or outcome you’re trying to achieve for the future
For example, ‘All the food waste our clients produce is made useful again’
➡Your values should describe your beliefs or how you want people to go about their work, whilst working for you.
For example, ‘We put the customers first’, ‘We are brave and bold’, ‘We work with integrity’
Here are some examples to that other well-known brands use👇
Mission statement examples…
- TK Maxx 👉 To deliver great value to our customers every day
- Sony 👉 A company that inspires and fulfils your curiosity.
Vision statement examples…
- Sainsburys 👉 To be the most trusted retailer, where people love to work and shop.
- DHL 👉 To be a post office for Germany and a logistics company for the world.
Examples of values…
- Pearson 👉 Brave. Imaginative. Decent
- BT 👉 Simple. Brilliant.
- Greggs 👉 Being friendly, inclusive, honest, respectful, hard-working and appreciative.
WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?
Every business should be able to explain what they do, how they do it, and what goals they have for the future. Whether it’s via your website, or your marketing collateral. It holds you accountable for the results you’re aiming to achieve.
From a marketing perspective
Having a vision and a mission statement – plus company values – encourages you to be consistent about how you describe your business, across all of your channels. From your socials, to your business presentations.
It builds your brand by telling your customers and suppliers the same story about who you are and what makes you so special. Therefore, helping to grow your business 📈
From a leadership perspective
Your business vision, mission, and values should galvanise your team into doing the things necessary to bring these statements to life. It determines who you hire and how you measure your team’s performance.
From a performance management perspective
You need to set team objectives, that gets you further towards your vision and mission. And be clear about what great performance looks like, using the values as a basis for success.
Here’s an example of how important it is…
Imagine if your vision is to become the most environmentally friendly café in Shrewsbury 🍰 ☕
Your business processes should therefore be shaped by this vision.
- Your supplier choices will be shaped by this vision. For example, you probably insist on using local produce to save on food miles.
- Your hiring decisions will be shaped by this vision. For example, your job advert might ask for somebody with a passion for the planet.
- How you reward your team will be shaped by this vision. For example, you might incentivise staff to recycle more.
The list goes on!
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Like I said earlier, it’s never too late to define or refresh your vision, mission, and values.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
🤔 Why did I set up this business in the first place?
🤔 What are my business plans and goals for the future?
🤔 How do I want our customers to describe doing business with us?
🤔 What do I want my employees to say about what it’s like working for me?
🤔 What do all of our stakeholders say about us today – and do we want to change that?
🤔 What sets us apart from our competitors?
🤔 What do we do brilliantly?
🤔 What do we want our legacy to be?
🤔 What difference do we want to make to our customer’s lives?
Hopefully the answers will guide you 🤞
Then, you might like to do three additional tasks:
🔎 Check out what your competitor’s vision, mission, and values are
👓 Read your own business reviews to get an insight it what your customers like or don’t like about doing business with you. If you don’t have any reviews, perhaps send them a survey?
🗣 Ask your employees what it’s like to work for your company and what they believe your customers are saying. This is a great way of getting them engaged with your vision, mission, and values.
WHAT DO I DO WITH A VISION, MISSION, AND VALUES?
Once you’ve nailed your vision, mission, and values – you need to communicate them to your staff, suppliers, and customers. And then, make sure they’re embedded in everything you do.
✅ Update your employee handbook
✅ Update your marketing materials
✅ Update your pay and rewards strategy
YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE SHOULD EPITOMISE YOUR VISION, MISSION & VALUES
Don’t forget you must also embody your company vision, mission, and values in your leadership style and how you set goals and manage performance 💪
So, going back to my example vision earlier on – i.e. to become the most environmentally friendly café in Shrewsbury – how do you think your words and actions need to bring this vision to life?
For example, you could set an example for your employees by disposing of waste in the right way. Or, you could ask everybody to walk to work – if they’re local and physically able to.
OTHER HELPFUL MATERIAL 🤗
If you need help with goal setting – which of course is intrinsically linked to creating a company vision, mission, and values – then check out a previous blog I wrote about this. It’s called: OKRS OR KPIS? WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO BOOST TEAM PERFORMANCE?
TO SUM THINGS UP THEN
🏢 Having a company vision, mission, and values is equally as important for small businesses as it is for corporate organisations
⏰ Can you honestly say you’re able to convey what your business does in say, eight seconds?
📈 There are so many commercial benefits to doing this – it’s never too late to start – or update what you have today
🤔 There’s lot of confusion around the three terms. But, in reality, they’re words to describe what you do, how you do it, and the difference you’re trying to make to your customers
❓ To get started, there are questions you should be asking yourself. For example, how do you want your customers to describe doing business with you?
💪 Once you’ve nailed yours, you need to update your marketing and HR materials. Plus, your leadership style!
🤗 If you need help with any of this, you know where I am
Virtual HR Director & Leadership Mentor. I create game-changing HR & Hiring Strategies for ambitious small businesses in the UK and support you to lead your team with confidence. Check out my shop to download HR Templates & Contracts designed to make life easier.