Would you gamble with your home or your life savings without a good reason?
Unless you had some kind of gambling addiction, the answer would probably be no.
Yet that is exactly what people seem to do in the business world each day.
A common theme I have seen with new clients has been the subject of the need to establish purpose.
Key Point – It might seem kind of obvious, yet somehow it slips through unnoticed, that if you’re going to take the trouble to put yourself through the daily tests of running your own business, then perhaps you should know why you’re doing it.
Let’s take that a step further, imagine if your staff also knew, understood, agreed with, and supported what you were doing!
Now here’s an interesting thing – sure there are quite a number of medium and large businesses that produce a company mission statement because they have read somewhere that this is what successful businesses do, but do they align with the owner’s values?
You will often see these plaques mounted proudly in reception areas with bold statements like, ‘We will deliver exceptional customer service with a smile’.
It appeals to my twisted sense of humour that you are reading this as you have been kept waiting for an absurd amount of time by a sour-faced receptionist for an executive who is too busy to greet a potential customer.
There are also those classic service messages like, ‘Your call is important to us, (but obviously not really, because we’re not answering you. In fact, after we have transferred you to the wrong person three times, we will now cut you off’).
I could easily go on a lengthy rant about service standards in Australia and please don’t get me started on the topic of telephone companies or I’ll be here all day.
So back to my point, and I guess this applies more directly to smaller businesses that have an owner rather than a board and a bunch of shareholders, but my question is ‘What is having this business going to do for you?’ or, to put it another way, ‘Why do you do it?’.
Before you retort with the obvious answers like ‘pay my bills’, ‘feed my kids’, ‘subsidise my wife’s shoe-shopping addiction’ or ‘lifestyle, I definitely do it for the lifestyle’, I challenge you to stop and think for a moment before blurting.
The most common blurt is probably ‘To be my own boss’, and that’s great.
Alas, too many people are content to continue on the daily treadmill with that solitary blurt as their sole motivating force.
I challenge you to ask yourself these questions:
• Why am I in business?
• What are we trying to achieve?
• How will we know when we have achieved it?
• What values do we stand for?
• How will we endeavour to run our business?
• How should our staff behave?
• How will we treat our customers?
• How will we treat our staff and our suppliers?
• What is the mission of the business?
• What is my personal mission in life and how does the business fit into this?
• Do the business values reflect my values?
Now a lot of people don’t actually know want they want to do with their entire life and I’m not suggesting that you should. Nor am I suggesting that you have to decide right now and stick with that decision for your entire life. The plan doesn’t need to be set in concrete, but there does need to be one at least.
I do believe though that you should have a good idea of what you stand for and what your business stands for.
I also believe that you should at least have written down a 12 month plan and a 3 year plan.
When you look at the most successful leaders in the world, they almost certainly have put some thought into it, and that’s why other people follow them – because people sense and respond to their passion, enthusiasm and conviction.
To conclude, the stronger your belief in your cause, the more you are guided intuitively to make the right decisions and have the courage to smash through the obstacles that will lead you to success.
In fact, with a clear mission statement and goals all written down, you can shape your destiny.
NB PM Gillard picture courtesy of Sydney Herald Newspaper; Sir Richard Branson picture courtesy of Virgin Unite.