Here is the naked truth. I am an unintentional entrepreneur.
In 1996, I quit a job I loved to start a business. I had no business plan, no savings and no idea how to run a business. I was a single mom with two small children.
What was I thinking?
I ran three companies from 1996 to 2012. But it was not until I was faced with a crisis and had to reboot a business that I became truly intentional about business. My business reinvention was and continues to be a journey, but here are some key things that helped me rebuild.
Defining our Purpose
In Simon Sinek’s 2009 Ted Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, he talks about how to start your “why”. His methodology focuses on the Golden Circle. He defines how some leaders like Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King and the Wright Brothers are able to inspire while others are not. Regardless of your size, if you focus on why you do what you do instead of what you do, you’ll be more successful. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Your business purpose is your why.
“Imagine asking MapQuest to give you directions, but not plugging in your desired destination.”
—Ari Weinzweig on having a vision
In 2013, I had the great fortune of attending a visioning session with Ari. It changed everything. For the first time in my entrepreneurial career, I thought about what I really wanted.
- What would my ideal company look like?
- Who would we employ?
- What kind of clients could we attract?
- What impact could we have on our community?
- What would we do?
I wrote a 10-year vision in 2013, and it is amazing how much has already come true.
Ari is so smart and entertaining. Be sure to check out his video on “The 12 Natural Laws of Business”.
Agreeing on Our Mission
When you have a vision of where you want to be, a mission is how you get there. I love things that are simple. Joe Puluzzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, has a formula for creating a mission statement for content marketing that I believe is great for business too.
- [Our Company] is the place where
- [Our Audience] gets
- [What Information] that
- Offers [What Benefit]
When you and your team can articulate the mission, you become aligned in where you are going.
Written Core Values
I view our core values as the rules of engagement. It drives the way we work together and how we work with clients. We hire people that share our values. Since they’ve been established, we now find we work with people who share our values. Establishing company values is a process that should involve the entire team when possible.
Our friend, Tom Walter, Chief Culture Officer of Tasty Catering, helped lead the first values brainstorming session with our team. They are rockstars of workplace excellence and living their values. Our team came armed with ideas and guides from our favorite brands—refining them until we agreed we had covered everything. It took us a few sessions to finalize the list. Now we use our values to guide us in all types of decisions—from hiring to how to handle difficult situations.
Keeping a business on the right track is not easy. We invest in living our values, mission and purpose. It is time consuming and there is a cost, but the results are truly priceless.