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Mission Vision Purpose

From Origin Story To Core Myth

Many businesses have famous stories of how they began on their way to creating something significant – it’s called an origin story.

Think of one of the hottest brands in the world, Apple and you’ve probably heard a story of how Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created the first personal computers in their parent’s garage.

Or what about Fedex?

That started as a school project to create a business plan – and founder Fred Smith reputedly even got a low grade for his efforts. That teacher must feel as foolish as the A&R men who rejected The Beatles.

We like to hear and read stories. It’s why we read novels, watch films and follow the soaps on TV.

And to understand the “now”, we like to know the past and that’s why origin stories are gripping.

The Core Myth

Internet guru Rich Schefren has extended the origin story into a concept he calls “The Core Myth” (not to be confused with the Core Concept for positioning products.)

I call it differentiation by who and why.

Basically your Core Myth is your business story – from the beginning all the way through to the present day. It gives your stakeholders – and especially your customers and employees – a stronger more powerful reason to believe in and commit to your business.

Your Core Myth is inspiring because it covers your big reason for existence – your differentiation by why.

And it’s not just about making you rich.

Neither your customers nor employees care about putting an extra nought or two on your bank balance. Or about you having a fancy car and living in a posh house.

They want to believe that you have a bigger cause which inspires you. Which gives you passion to do what you do.

Your Core Myth goes further than that.

It tells about the struggles you had to achieve what you’ve done.

How you’ve overcome obstacles – sometimes things that would have stopped a lesser man or woman in their tracks.

The Core Myth creates an emotional bond between you and your customers, prospective customers and employees.

It tells the story of who you really are.

It builds understanding and empathy.

And admiration for your achievements.

Most importantly it makes you stand out.

Different from your competitors who either don’t have a Core Myth or haven’t shared it.

It tells of your values.

What’s important to you and what people can rely on from your business.

Learning More About The Core Myth

Rich Schefren goes into great detail on the Core Myth in one of the reports available from the Founders Club. It’s 96 pages long and billed as…

“The Single Story That Sets Your Business Apart: How to leverage a core myth to rally your team, attract and retain more customers, build a powerful brand and grow free”.

It does take some reading because Rich goes into so much detail on how to build your Core Myth and how to tell the story.

My Overall Thoughts On The Core Myth

The Core Myth is a concept I like very much.

Done well, it will differentiate your business along the who and why dimensions.

We may differ on how long it should be.

The impression I get from Rich is that your Core Myth is long and detailed.

That may be where you start but I think you should have different versions of your story.

The same fundamental truths but in different lengths as you vary the level of detail and descriptive passages. I have to admit to being one of those readers who skip over the boring stuff to get to the action when I read novels and even giving up part way through if I don’t get gripped.

I’ve also read enough business books that were 200 plus pages long with a powerful concept that would have made a great 15 page white paper.

People are different and the more you cater for their preferences the better.

The Core Myth is a very interesting way of communicating your business in a way that it’s seen as different – dramatic, exciting and with a compelling purpose.

It builds on the idea that your business can be different and special because you are unique. No one else has the exact same experiences, values and motivations as you do.

My Core Myth goes back to my times as a trainee accountant when I saw nice people with their own businesses earning much less profit than you’d expect. You see much of what you see if is a front – an illusion – created to impress. But doing their accounts meant that the business owners couldn’t hide the reality from me.

I also saw nice people with great little businesses which were making excellent profits.

I became fascinated by what made the difference.

Often it wasn’t down to hard work.

Most small business owners work incredibly long, hard hours that would make unionised employees walk out on strike… and especially when the rate of pay is so low.

My purpose is to make a difference for the nice people who own businesses. Not the ones who are out to scam or con naive customers but those who take pride in what they do and want to do right by their customers.

in 2 – Your Inner Game, 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

Do You Have A Vision For Your Business?

A common problem with running a small business is that you lose sight of a powerful vision as managing the day-to-day issues becomes the priority.

If you started your business rather than inheriting it, I bet you had a very good idea about what you wanted to achieve for yourself and your customers.

Questions About Your Vision

How does that starting vision compare with what you now think?

Are you still on track,  found something better or have you lost your idealism?

A Business Vision Isn’t Just For Big Companies

Thinking about a vision (or a mission) may seem to be very “big company” and therefore not something that you should rush into.

You’ve probably seen the vanilla statements that are churned out and are completely meaningless. Take away the name and it could be anyone.

That’s not what I want for you at all.

I want you to return to the strong purpose and direction you had when you started or bought your business.

It will help to guide your decisions, act as a filter to stop you following inappropriate opportunities that look profitable but don’t fit in with your passions.

It will also help motivate your employees and guide their decision-making. You can’t have rules and procedures for everything.

How Vision Fits With Strategy

The easiest way to think about it is that strategy helps you get from where you are to where you want to be

Your vision is where you want to be.

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How To Create A Vision For Your Business

Should every business have a clear vision, no matter what the size?

In my opinion, yes.

There’s a danger of thinking that mission statements and vision statements belong to the work of senior managers in big businesses and only big businesses.

While it’s true that big businesses have a much harder job of communicating a clear focus and purpose to the many employees in a way that builds a consistent company culture that pulls in the same, right direction, small business owners need to think about vision too.

Why Having A Vision For Your Business Is Important

There’s a saying that goes along the lines of…

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do.”

That’s frightening when you stop and think about it because it means that you’re vulnerable to each and every nice looking opportunity and you could find yourself chasing here, there and everywhere.

It seems that the saying is based on a thought in the children’s book Alice In Wonderland.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 6)

Let’s summarise those last two lines.

You’re bound to get somewhere if you walk long enough.

Putting that into a business content, your business is bound to become something if you work hard enough.

The problem is that the “something” is often a business where long hours, hard work and low pay are the rewards for not having a clear vision.

They are common small business problems that you want to avoid.

The Benefits Of Having A Vision For Your Business

What is the purpose of your business? What did you set out to achieve at the beginning?

For me, purpose comes down to finding the right balance between two forces:

  • What you want to do for your customers and clients
  • What you want to do for yourself

Your mission and vision help to bring those two forces into alignment.

Sometimes they pull in opposite directions – you want to give your customers great value for money but you also want to charge a high enough price to give you a big profit.

But they don’t have to be opposites.

A business that does great things for its customers deserves do do great things for its owners.

A business that doesn’t serve its customers well doesn’t deserve to reward its owners well.

How To Create A Vision For Your Business

First you need to agree on your purpose in terms of customers and the owners.

Then you need to decide whether that’s sufficient.

It is for many business owners but others want to include other stakeholders like employees or the environment.

Create a short, snappy sentence or two that captures your purpose.

Make sure that it is meaningful and specific.

It’s not

Our purpose is to have many happy customers and for the owners to become rich.

That is meaningless and gives little or no direction.

Then when you’ve got your purpose, write your vision.

This is a visual expression of your purpose in so many years time. It may be one, five, ten … whatever you choose.

An Example Of A Vision

Let’s move away from business because I know that some people find it difficult to switch from examples of one trade to their own.

We’ll think about holidays.

A bad purpose is

I want to have a great holiday.

There’s no direction there. It doesn’t close down options.

A much better purpose because it’s more specific is…

I want to have a great holiday in South Africa with my wife and children in September 2013 including at least three nights on safari.

The vision would be…

The sun rises slowly and the air is still chilled but we’re excited. The tracker caught sight of the big cat’s tracks about ten minutes ago and we’ve been edging along in the safari vehicle ever so quietly. Then I hear a deep roar and the bass thuds into my chest. I can’t breathe. I can’t talk as the long grass parts in front of me and a gorgeous male lion appears, blood smeared around his mouth.

The kids have seen their first ever wild lion and their eyes are shining brightly as they stare at the magnificent beast in awe.

The holiday example has given me the chance to turn up the emotions but your vision should be inspiring and emotional.

It puts you where you want to be and gives you the motivation to get there.

Really great visions aren’t often seen in business but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have one.

If you want more inspiration for a vision, two great examples from the political arena are:

  • Winston Churchill’s “We shall never surrender” speech from the second world war
  • Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech in the 1960s civil rights movement in the USA.
in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

Business Examples Of Mission

Three examples of mission and you can see that these are much more closely linked to purpose and don’t have the snapshot effect of saying that’s been done.

“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” [continue reading…]

in 2 – Your Inner Game

Business Examples Of Vision

I have found a few examples of vision statements for businesses.

The first inspired Henry Ford

“I’m going to democratize the automobile, when I’m through, everybody will be able to afford one, and about everyone will have one”

In the early 20th century, Ford’s vision was very ambitious but we know how it turned out. [continue reading…]

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Mission Example: John F Kennedy Man On The Moon

You could put up an argument that this is either a vision or a mission statement.

It doesn’t have the imagery of the quotes from Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill but it still provides great purpose along with a sense of pride.

Here is what JKK said. [continue reading…]

in 2 – Your Inner Game

Things looked bleak for the United Kingdom after France fell to Hitler and Nazi Germany and we had to evacuate our troops from Dunkirk. [continue reading…]

in 2 – Your Inner Game

Vision Example: Martin Luther King I Have A Dream

Notice how Martin Luther King paints word pictures which create an emotional response in this famous speech.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. [continue reading…]

in 2 – Your Inner Game

Primary Aim and Strategic Objective

I recommend many of my personal clients to read The E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber and in particular I want them to read two chapters.

In my edition it’s Chapter 12 on Your Primary Aim and Chapter 13 on Your Strategic Objective.

These two chapters woke me up about this work / life balance topic and the amazing power you have as a business owner… if you decide to use it. [continue reading…]

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Purpose First Then Profit by Ruth Tembe Epie

The full title of this book by Ruth Tembe Epie is

Purpose First Then Profit: Discover The Purpose Of Your Life Then Make Millions Out Of It

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I gave the book Two Stars if you buy it and Three Stars if you read it through your Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Here is my book review.

Disappointing for the money it costs to buy, 3 Stars if you read it through your Kindle Unlimited subscription

You know how sometimes an author’s style gels with you and you enjoy reading the book, even if you didn’t get much out of it?

Well I had the opposite problem. [continue reading…]

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