One of the first steps in starting a business is to define what you want to do and why you want to do it. This will help you focus your ideas more clearly and allow you to start making specific plans.
Defining your purpose
When starting a business, first decide what you want to achieve. Known as your business “vision,” this is a long-term view of what your business will become. To then help make that vision a reality, identify why you want to start this business and not another.
For example, you may want to open a travel agency, but why? It may be because you want to offer exciting trips, serve a particular market, or simply see it as a way to make money.
This is the “purpose” behind your business vision. Use this to inform your decisions and focus your plans. For instance, an agency offering unique vacations would be planned differently from one aimed at only making money.
Your vision and purpose embody your business, which you can use when deciding your strategies and planning your working procedures and practices. Share them with other people involved in your business from the start, including investors, customers, clients, and staff, by encapsulating them in a “mission statement” (see right) that sums up you and your business.
Setting out your values
While deciding the vision and purpose of your business, also consider the values you want to uphold, such as honesty, integrity, value for money, and passion.
These provide a map and compass to guide your decision-making and should be reflected in how the business operates.
Incorporate these values throughout the business, and communicate them with others so that everyone dealing with you knows what you stand for. For example, a travel agency catering to older travelers may choose “commitment, quality, adventure, and luxury” as its business values
Creating a mission statement
What? Define the products or services that your business provides.
Who for? Say who your products or services are designed for.
How? Explain how your customers’ aspirations will be met.
To support your mission statement, you can also write a vision statement, outlining where the business aspires to be in the future, having achieved its mission. You can also write a values statement, explaining the values your business will maintain in pursuit of its mission. Together, the three statements form a pledge between your business and those who deal with it.
A mission statement is a written declaration that clarifies the purpose of your business—what it does, who it does it for, and how it does it. It should be concise and give clear answers to three key questions:
In 1975, Bill Gates founded the software company
Microsoft. Its initial vision was simple but ambitious:
“to put a computer on every desk and in every home.”
The company aligned its strategy, communications, and
and culture to make that vision a reality. Since then,
computers have become commonplace, and so the
company has a new vision: “to empower every person.
and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
CASE STUDY MOTIVATING OTHERS
Your mission statement (see above) not only provides
focus for you, but it also serves as inspiration for others.
It can be used to help attract and motivate staff, giving
them a clear set of values to follow and a keen sense
of what the business does and why. It can also be an
important marketing tool, projecting a precise image
of your business’s unique identity—its brand—to the
outside world, helping attract customers and clients.
However, it is essential to demonstrate the values you
portray, as failure to do so can undermine the message.