How To Build A Vision For Your Company

An essential document every company should have in their toolbox is what Micheal Gerber (E-Myth author) calls a ‘strategic objective’. As he puts it, ‘Your Strategic Objective is a very clear statement of what your business has to ultimately do for you to achieve your Primary Aim.’

This is what I like to use as my measure of success. Not revenue, not profits, not headcount.

If the purpose of a company is purely to generate money – a medium of exchange that by itself has no meaning or value. Philosophically is there any point at all?

There’s plenty of other ways to generate money without giving up years of your life, sacrificing your health, your friendships and putting yourself under undue stress.

I just don’t believe financial goals are a good long-term motivator or used as a company goal post. ‘Making money as an ideal sits on shaky ground at best and is a haphazard way to drive long-term decisions for your business.

By default, focusing on profits over everything else is a short-term thinking trap. Which almost inevitably fails.

So back to the strategic objective and achieving true success.

A strategic objective should give your company purpose, direction and link your ‘why’ to your companies ‘why’.

It’s made up of three slices.

1. The mission, which is the end goal. The core reason your company exists.
2. The vision is a picture and a description of what your company will look like when its mission is complete. It’s the completed canvas of the business.
3. The values, which are the beliefs, philosophies, and principles that drive the business forward.

BAKING YOUR COMPANY PIE

I’ve used this tool for startups, small businesses and my career. Whenever things get murky and I get lost in the weeds of business or life, I come back to the strategic objective document to centre my thoughts and find a clear path forward.

Below I’ll walk you through the process I used to create one for my gym.

SETTING YOUR MISSION

Your company’s mission should define the long-term result you want your business to deliver.

It will provide inspiration and purpose for your team and guide your future business decisions. It will act as your company’s north star.

From Simon Sinek’s book – Finding your why ‘There are only two ways you can influence human behaviour. You can manipulate it or inspire it. When a company has a clear purpose, each stakeholder within will be able to find theirs.

Without a clearly defined mission, the team won’t know what they’re trying to achieve, and your customers won’t understand why they should support you.

Here’s a couple of good examples:

 •  Warby Parker: To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price while leading the way for socially conscious business
 •  Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy

To create yours, all you need to do is answer the following three questions and combine the answers to create one concise statement.

1. Why does your company do what it does?
2. How does your company achieve this?
3. What benefit do your customers receive?

At our gym, ‘World Fitness’, we had to make many changes to keep the doors open during Covid, so much so that we decided to redo our strategic objective and set a new path forward.

Here is our attempt at answering these questions:

1. Why does your company do what it does?

We enjoy helping people improve their lives, and we’re using the gym as our vessel to do this. By virtue of our personal drivers, our gym’s purpose is to help people improve their lives.

2. How does your company achieve this?

We provide a platform and tools that people can utilise to improve their physical health and overall wellbeing.

3. What benefit do your customers receive?

By improving their health, our members will have more energy, feel more confident, and perform better in their chosen pursuits.

We then drafted a three-sentence statement we thought best outlined the World Fitness mission using these questions answers.

Company Mission Statement

* This is a draft that needs feedback wordsmithing, but close enough for now.

Finalising your company mission statement is a process of iteration.

Initially, just get something down on paper, leave it for a while, then review. Keep doing this until you are happy with what you’ve drafted. Then reach out to your friends, family, staff or customers and ask them for feedback.

Mission statement checkpoints:

1. Make sure that it makes sense – read it to someone, then ask them for their comprehension. Often something that sounds great in your head will be confusing for others.
2. Check to see that the statement evokes some sort of emotion. A mission statement should excite you and others.

DEFINING YOUR VISION

A good vision statement forms a detailed image of your company’s future. This statement should clarify what your company will look like when its mission has been achieved. Ideally, it is short but high in detail.

One page, give or take a few sentences,centre is a good place to start.

To create a vision statement, you need to look towards your company’s future.

First, you’ll want to decide on a timeframe.

When do you want your business to achieve its mission?

Jeff Bezos thinks in the 100’s of years. I use three to five years.

Once you have a timeframe in mind, you can begin forming the details of your vision.

I’ve borrowed some questions from the E-Myth Revisited book to help you get started. (written by Micheal E Gerber). Michael uses two categories of questions called company fundamentals and company distinguishing factors to flesh out the bones of a vision statement.

BASIC FUNDAMENTALS

 •  Company Financial: What levels of revenue, profit, and ownership do you want your business to achieve?
 •  Timeframe: When do we want to complete this mission?
 •  Location: Where will the company be located?
 •  Offering: What is the benefit your customer receives by doing business with you?
 •  Ideal Customer: Who is your perfect customer? (Should match your customer profile)
 •  Business Model: How does your business make a profit?

DISTINGUISHING FACTORS

 •  Unique products/service: What is your unique product or service, and what differentiates it from your competition?
 •  Unique marketing: What will be unique about your marketing?
 •  Unique presence: What does your business look like, smell like, and feel like?
 •  Unique operations: What is unique about the product or service you sell, and how is it distributed?
 •  Any Other distinctive characteristics: Basically, we are looking for distinguishing factors that will make your company unique and paint your future vision.

You can see my first attempt at these questions for World Fitness below.

Company Vision Questions

Combining the answers from above, I drafted a one-page overview tying all these pieces together to create our company vision statement.

Over the next three years, we are going to build a performance center that serves our members and ourselves. We have a vision for the WORLD we will create over the next three years that will allow us to live and afford the lifestyles we want. WORLD will produce annual profits of $100k on the back of $500k in annual revenue, with a maximum membership base of 500 people. We will have a core team that provides management, maintenance, convenience, and accountability to the members we serve.

We will provide more than a gym. We will deliver a service that is unique to us. We want to create a tribe of raving fans.

We will operate locally, represent local, and contribute to local. Dunedin based and became an icon of the city. Our members will likely be employed and earn a medium to high income, aged from the early ‘20s to the late ‘60s. They will be curious people interested in personal development and prioritise their health. We should seek to understand our members’ problems and decide who provides them with the best solution.

Our members’ experience will be guided by four key tenants identified as critical to customer success. Accountability (Identifying true goals and holding accountable to them), Convenience (Making achieving goals easier, faster – providing tools, IP, etc..), Culture (Creating a culture of high performance), Care (provide a place for connection and shared achievement, look out for each other).

Our service will take a value-added approach. Current gym memberships are just contracts for payment. We will add value to our memberships, so they are perceived as a membership rather than a contract that “costs” money. They will be viewed as an investment that has a high return. Memberships that provide access to resources (information) and people (coaching) + enable (Discounts, Free Stuff, Events).

We will market our experience with a brand orientated approach. Focused on content production that provides high value to the consumers and builds a connection with our extended audience. Our look will be distinctive and tightly follow new branding and guidelines. Bold Images, Fonts, Messaging with a simple approach (low color, simple language, etc..)

We want our staff and gym to be a good representation of Dunedin and take ownership of Dunedin’s unique vibe. Modest achievement, community-orientated, etc.

We will be known as Trustworthy and transparent, as well as Reliable/consistent. Our look will be modest but bold. We will provide good music that mixes cafes with summer concerts. Our smell should be fresh/clean but not sterile, a mix of nature/sea breeze.

We will operate smartly, providing more to people but giving less of ourselves. This is all about creating a service that scales. We will adopt innovative methods and new technology so that what we do and how we do it is important. Think Apple computers componentry – Steve Jobs cared as much about the inside as the outside of Macbooks.

We are in the business of human optimization, not gyms.”

As with the mission statement, I intended to leave this for a few days and return to it. Re-iterating until I was happy with the result.

When you have drafted a vision you’re happy with, go out and test it on your network, customers, employees, etc.

REALISING YOUR VALUES

Now that you’ve defined what you want your company to achieve and how you want to achieve it. Your final step is establishing guidelines for the journey.

These guidelines are called company values.

In essence, your company values are the beliefs, philosophies, and principles that drive your business. The impact of the employee experience you deliver as well as the relationship you develop with your customers, partners, and shareholders.”

 – Smarp.com

Your company values can help your business in numerous ways:

 •  They allow you and your employees make decisions.
 •  They help you attract and retain top talent.
 •  They help you attract customers that share your values.
 •  They provide clear guidelines for your marketing and communication.

The simplest way to establish company values is by brainstorming. You can do this alone or bring in core team members to contribute.

Think about the mission and vision you’ve already established. What sort of behavioural standards do you think will best guide your company towards those?

Sit around a table and have a chat. Write any values that pop up on a piece of paper.

Try to get at least 20 on paper, then review.

There will be a few that are similar and can be condensed. There’ll be some that you realise aren’t relevant or don’t resonate with you. Finally, there’ll be values that stand out and resonate with you and your team, keep these.

Your business values will change over time. Keep coming back to them and change them as you need.

Below are the values we created for World Fitness. COVID or not, these are still relevant today, and we try to follow them as best we can.

World Fitness Gym Values

After defining your mission, vision, and values, document themto  and make sure they’re easily accessible for everyone in your organisation.

Keep in mind that just documenting them is not enough. Your strategic objective will need a flag-bearer, which is likely to be you.

Need to make a tough decision? – How does this fit with your strategic objective?

Are you dealing with a customer complaint? – Have your company values been followed?

Are you hiring new employees? – Do they agree with your values?

Get out there and start communicating your strategic objective with all the stakeholders in your business. Use it to guide your business as it develops.

Think long term, act with purpose and win.

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