Why your vision and purpose should be the cornerstone of your business

Have you ever wondered what it is that makes one business flourish and another potter on in a hard-earned but stagnant existence?


In my 30 years of experience in advising businesses it’s become very clear that every successful organisation you can name has a certain and passionate vision and has clarity around why it exists in the first place, whether it’s a purpose or mission. I don’t mean the textbook vision and purpose statement paragraphs that we all learn about in our university days either.

Let me explain.


Firstly, let’s talk about purpose

Each great business understands exactly why they exist (purpose) and can articulate what it is that makes its team turn up to work each morning – their raison d’etre.

For example:

  • Oxfam exists to create a just world without poverty.
  • Multiple Sclerosis Foundation exists to create a world free of MS.
  • Temple and Webster exists to be Australia’s most beautiful shopping experience for the home.
These purpose statements aren’t the voluminous, meaningless waffle that we were traditionally taught a purpose or mission statement should contain.
They are clear, one-sentence statements that everyone in an organisation can understand and remember.
They are, in fact, the key to understanding who you are as a business.


Understand why you exist

The reason why you exist is not to make a profit.


That is the outcome of doing what you do but it is not why you do it. If you are struggling with clarifying ‘why’ your business exists consider using a mind-mapping process to expand your mind as well as provide focus and clarity. Remember to keep your customer front of mind when you do this. What does your customer get? This is not the item they buy. What does the item (i.e. what you sell them) solve for them and what is the emotion they get as a result?


Drill this down to a simple yet powerful purpose (or mission) statement.


This should be one sentence. It should be easy to articulate and something that everyone from your customers to your staff will remember and embrace. Be prepared to make a number of revisions.


Develop a vision

Secondly, you must have clarity around your vision. Where are you going? If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. In order to understand where you are going, you need to understand why your organisation exists (purpose).


Developing your vision is not easy, but it’s important to remember that a vision is aspirational – it is something that you aspire to. This can be your BHAG – your big, hairy, audacious goal.


If you have total clarity around why your business exists in the first place (i.e. what is it your customer “gets”) and your vision for the future of your business, you’re a long way down the road to success.


Use your vision to guide everything you do from your interactions with staff, your marketing to customers and your decision-making criteria


Fine-tuning your vision into something that is inspirational can be a real challenge. But with so few businesses really understanding firstly, why they exist and secondly what their vision is, this is an opportunity to stand out from the crowd and is the first step in building a growing business.


Grant Field is chairman MGI Australasia. The information contained in this article is general in nature and readers should seek their own professional advice in relation to these areas.


This article was originally posted on SmartCompany.


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