Welcome to a series of articles where I focus on this year being a year of success. To begin our journey of success we have started by looking back on last year, 2022, and identifying what we have learned and what we can build on into 2023. This process is called reflection.
Reflection provides us with information to assist with our forward planning. The next stage in the planning process is to prepare ourselves, mentally and physically; make sure our team is fit for the journey ahead and update the products and services we intend to offer next year.
Last week I talked about the need to set goals for yourselves and your business. Firstly, you need to be clear about your own vision – this is your big picture – the world you want to be part of. It is a long-term view of what you want the world in which you operate to be. It should focus on the future, be a source of inspiration and provide clear decision-making criteria. Making money is not the vision – you make money in order to help you work towards your vision. Why are you in business? What is it all for?
Oxfam’s vision is a ‘just world without poverty’ – very clear and unambiguous.
Microsoft – a computer on every desk and in every home; all running Microsoft software.
A hairdresser in New Zealand – we change the way you think about a haircut.
Return to Sender (funerals) – to be buried with dignity.
A mission is a statement of how the vision is going to be achieved. For example, the hairdresser quoted here provides ‘full-service comfort, friendly staff, a relaxing atmosphere, and the best prices in town to give you an experience that will leave you glowing both inside and out.” The funeral business provides “choice to families who want their final vessel to be in alignment with what was important to them during their lifetime”.
Your values are our guiding principles – your core beliefs.
Taken together, vision, mission and values combine to form the organisation’s ambition. They need to be in constant use from recruitment throughout employment and at all levels of the business including the Board if you have one. They should be meaningful to everyone every day, measurable and shared with customers, staff and suppliers.
If you do not have these ideas written down, make a commitment to do it within the next two weeks – involve your business colleagues, your family, your staff and even your customers. Ask them what they think. It is easy to write statements that sound nice, but which are meaningless; where what you say and what you do are two different things. Most of us would have the value of honesty but are we honest when it comes to paying our bills on time or paying our taxes or treating our staff well? Do we demonstrate our support for the environment by refusing to use plastic, by recycling as much as we can and by only selling quality goods?
When you are clear about your vision (your view of the future) and your mission (what you can do today towards your vision) then the next step is to be clear about the current state of your business – this is your starting point towards your vision. Then you can create the goals for 2023 to guide your actions towards your vision. A friend of mine in Australia described a goal as a dream with a date. Write them down, date them, review them regularly and commit to achieving them.
If you really are ambitious for your SME to make a difference, then you must not only say so but be that difference ourselves in everything you do. As Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘be the change you want to see in the world’.
I stayed in a small guest house recently in Samoa where, when we checked in, we were given a card which outlined their vison, mission and values and we were asked to comment throughout our stay with examples of where we saw these statements put into practice, or not. This small business lived its values daily and provided an inspiration to all who worked or stayed there, and they were constantly measuring how well they were doing.
If you are not sure where to start or simply want some external advice on your own practice for making a difference, then please contact me.
Next week I will focus more on how we keep ourselves fit for running a business and for the journey ahead.
Please contact me with your own stories and experiences and, above all, over the year ahead have fun and enjoy the journey!
Breadfruit Consulting (www.breadfruitconsulting.com) is a Vanuatu-based business providing advice, training, coaching, and mentoring to businesses throughout the Pacific islands. Breadfruit specialises in a range of business development activities including ‘business continuity planning and action’, helping businesses to survive in a crisis, designing and starting new, sustainable businesses. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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