This week’s brilliant guest blog comes from a good friend of mine from The Netherlands – Jelle Bartels. Jelle discusses the powerful role that mission, vision and values play in helping you to achieve your real business goals.
Jelle Bartels in the NetherlandsI first met Jelle about 8 or 9 years ago when I was running some training courses for advisers in the Netherlands. At the time, Jelle was running his own advisory firm. Since then he’s sold his firm and become a leading consultant to entrepreneurs running Next Step Factory.
He’s one of the most inspiring and interesting consultants I know.
We regularly meet up in an airport somewhere for a catch up and to exchange ideas. His blog this week is a real treat, touching on an area that can change the way you make decisions about your business.
Over to you, Jelle!
Focus on Values
Every entrepreneur wants to create value for customers and a lot of work usually goes into creating a value proposition that attempts to do just that. Often this is where vague descriptors like personal, independent, professional and accessible come into the picture. Since everyone uses these terms (or terms which are similar) when describing their business, the customer doesn’t have much choice but to fall back on something they can actually compare: either the apparent price you charge, or your investment performance.
If you really want to appear different you’ll need to dig a little deeper and look for the values that make your company unique.
Making choices is difficult for everyone and this is especially true in your business. It becomes even more difficult when your direction is not crystal clear. The best way to get clarity of direction is by setting a vision.
Where is your company going? If this is clear to you, if you’ve really sketched out your dream, you can more effectively measure each choice presented to you and assess whether it gets you closer to your dream. If it helps you to realise your dream, apply it. If it doesn’t, then drop it.
Another option for weighing your choices is using your mission statement, which is the answer to the question:
“Why are you here on this Earth?”
The answer is not always easy but I’d venture to guess that it isn’t to write financial plans!
So what is your answer? Why do you do what you do?
The inner judge
There is still one, even more important factor to take into consideration: the inner judge. The choices you’ve made might be the quickest way to reach your goal, but do they fit your true identity?
Knowing your core values can help you make the choices that really fit with who you are and why you do what you do. Additionally, your core values make sure your customers recognise your brand. These values are the essence of your company’s identity and uniqueness.
How do you identify the core values of your company?
Clearly there’s more than one way to do this, but our experience shows that the following steps work well and fast:
- Grab a stack of post-it notes and identify at least four real, core values of your company.
- Write each core value on a separate post-it note and sort them in order of importance.
- Ask your co-workers, friends and customers to do the same (without letting them seeing your answers)
- Save these answers on post-it notes of a different colour
- Place these post-it notes next to your own core values.
- Are the answers the same? If so, that’s great.
- Are they different? If they are, then take a look at what immediate steps you can take to narrow the gap between the core values identified by the outsiders and those values that you believe are at your core.
Together with your mission and vision, core values are part of your identity.
They make sure that any potential customers have a real choice. They also support your decision-making and help establish your marketing and communication style.
When you gain this level of clarity it becomes easier to say ‘no’ and stay focused on the work that moves you closer to your real objectives in a way that aligns strongly with your mission in life.
All that knowledge for the price of a couple of post-it notes!
If you really want to appear different you need to look for the values that make your company unique.
The best way to get clarity of direction is by setting a vision.
Jelle’s Suggested Resources
For a great explanation of the importance of answering why do you do what you do?, click here. Simon Sinek (Start With Why) is a master at explaining why having a mission statement is so important.
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