The Benefits of a Clear, Compelling Mission

• Your mission reveals who your target market is. Does everyone want the most outstanding service experience? No, some people want the lowest price. Does everyone feel like a slave to their business? No. Does everyone want the finest coffee in the world? No. If you try to be everything to everyone, you won’t be anything to anybody. (See the chapter on phenomenal marketing systems to see how mission affects marketing.)
  • Your mission dictates what kind of marketing you do. Does every kind of marketing attract the target market that wants the mission you want to deliver? No.
  • Your mission engages your prospects and clients. Your mission makes it clear what you are actually providing—an experience, not just a functional product or service.
  • Your mission helps your staff make the right client decisions. This is possibly the biggest reason for a mission. Although your goal in building systems is to document every step that happens in the business, the fact is that we live in the real world and your staff must be empowered to make decisions when the lines are grey. How do your employees make that decision? With the mission in mind. Obviously we can’t deliver the mission without making a profit (an important part of the vision), but the mission helps them make the right decision.
  • Your mission determines what image you project. Your mission will determine how your materials look, what kind of dress code you have, what kind of facility you have, and many other decisions regarding the image of your company. For example, if my target market is corporate America, my image has to be corporate. If my target market is small business owners, it can be a little more down to earth, as they want to see authenticity.
  • Your mission helps you adopt the right customer service policies. One of the biggest disconnects in small business is when the mission doesn’t match the message. If the message says you provide the most outstanding service experience ever, but you set policies that limit your staff from actually delivering that, you hurt the brand.

• Your mission leads you to the right procedures and training processes.

Your people can have hearts as big as Texas, but if they don’t have the training and the systems to work with, they can’t deliver even if they wanted to.

• Your mission tells you what kind of people you should hire (or not).

If your people aren’t passionate about the mission, you are going nowhere fast. As Jim Collins says in Good to Great, “Get the right people on the bus and then figure out what seat to put them in.” (More about this in Phenomenal Leadership Systems.)

• Your mission is the focus of coaching and discipline. When team members miss the mark and you have to take them into a coaching situation, the entire conversation is about mission, vision, and purpose. This takes the conversation away from “me versus you.” It’s about the mission. This takes the negative emotion out of the equation.

Once you have a mission that you believe in, you can use it to make every decision in your business. What kind of marketing should we do? What should our uniforms look like? What kind of equipment should we use? In the book Onward, Howard Shultz shares that when Starbucks got off-track, the espresso machines that were chosen to cut expenses actually killed part of the experience—the aroma!

You can be tempted to do things that keep you from accomplishing your mission because you are trying to save money or you’re growing so fast that you lose sight of what got you there in the first place. That’s what happened to Starbucks.

In the book Onward—How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul, Howard Shultz shares how they regained their brand after losing their way. It’s a powerful story about the importance of mission and brand.

When you have a mission that is understood, you can “check” every decision that is made. A clear mission helps you “rally the troops” and gives you a context for coaching. When an employee doesn’t follow procedure, you can simply tie the correct behavior to the “why” behind the procedure—which is the mission.

Instead of your employees thinking you’re mad at them or you don’t like them or whatever emotional issue they have, they understand that it’s about the mission. They understand that the mission is best for the client. Speaking of clients, be sure to communicate your mission to your prospects, customers, and clients, as well. At our company, our UEPTM (Unique Experience Proposition) is our mission statement. This is what the client is buying and this is what my staff provides.

What a thing of beauty!

The mission is the very first component in building systems because we must know what it is that we are trying to accomplish each day. While you are getting your procedures in place, your team needs to know what the mission is so they can make the right decisions. You also need your mission in place so you can create the right procedures.

As mentioned previously, you may have heard people use the words “vision” and “mission” interchangeably. The difference between vision and mission, by the way (in my mind’s eye), is this:

Mission is what your business is trying to do each day. In other words, every time we pick up the phone, it communicates “the most outstanding service experience ever”—or it doesn’t. Simple as that.

Vision is what you want your business to look like. In other words, your vision is what you get when you reach your goals. We want to do X number of dollars in business, X number of clients, X dollars in profit, etc. We want to have X number of trucks, staff, etc.

Finally, your mission is supported by your values or what Starbucks calls “guiding principles.” These values help us live out our mission each day. My company has five values that we live by and that we communicate to our clients.

If we live out the values, we accomplish the mission. Simple as that.

To create your own mission statement, think about what you want the client to receive. What do you want them to feel? Put together a simple but meaningful sentence and begin to communicate it to your staff. Post it on your materials, your walls, and every place it can be visible to remind you, your staff, and your clients what you are actually selling.

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