Having worked with over 250 SMEs for the past decade, I’ve identified 10 key areas of business that are vital to success. If any of these areas are overlooked or neglected, they cause businesses and business owners to experience slower progress, delays, stress and problems.
The first one of my 10 key areas is a business’ direction
What goes into setting your business’ direction?
There are four components that contribute to your business’ direction:
#1 – Purpose. This is the starting why. It asks the important question, “Other than profit for the owners, why does the business exist, what are we trying to achieve and why does it matter that our aim is achieved?”.
Taking UK Growth Coach as an example, our purpose is:
- To simplify the business of business for company owners in order to close the gap between their “potential” and “real world performance”
- To be the positive catalyst that drives meaningful personal change, business growth, and life results
The outcome of our efforts will be…
- Fewer company failures, and more business successes
- Greater enjoyment and happiness for the owners, their teams, their clients, and others they influence
#2 – Vision. This is what you intend your business to look like when it is finished. What size will it be? How will it be spoken about by your target market? Where will it be positioned in the marketplace?
Taking UK Growth Coach again as an example, our vision is to have more than 100 business coaches across the UK, positively impacting the performance and results of more than 2,000 business owners and their companies every week.
#3 – Mission. If you Google “mission statement” you will find many different versions and interpretations of what that term means.
My personal take on this is that a better term would be “service mission statement”, if we have done a good job with the purpose statement and the finished business vision. For me, a “service mission statement” tells the intended experience of working with, and for, your business.
An example “service mission statement” might be what you intend future client testimonials to say about their experience of working with you, but before you have gone and done that. It acts as a statement for customer experience intention, and a benchmark against which team members and service experience can be assessed meaningfully.
#4 – Values. The values or ethics are about how you are going to deliver the above elements. They state the way in which you will do business and how you are going to think and behave.
Again, taking UK Growth Coach as an example, we have five core service values:
- Educate to unlock potential
- Provide accountability
- Support and lift-up
- Speak the necessary truth
- Emotionally invest in the success of your business
Why does having a clear business direction and vision matter?
It is easy to see how these items could become a tick box activity, to satisfy the needs of a business plan. When done properly, however, and with the right intention they are one of the most valuable tools for empowering business growth.
Here is why:
Clarity – they offer much needed clarity to everyone in and out of the business as to the direction, conduct, behaviours and ambition of the business.
The purpose and vision show the direction of travel, which makes the journey considerably easier and also eliminates surprises on the way, which can be unsettling and confusing.
Expectations – the service mission and values set expectations of the client/customer experience, how the business will operate and the behaviours and progress your team should be making.
With clear expectations, if anyone steps out from that, you’ve a clear recourse to bring them back in line.
Recruitment – Alongside people management, recruitment is one of the biggest frustrations and time-consuming roles business owners have.
By having a clear purpose, vision, service mission, and values, it gives you a framework for recruiting employees with the right attitude who buy-in to your business and ambition.
This is why a non-monetary purpose is particularly important, as your employees are not likely to be motivated by generating more money for the business owner.
Motivation – for you and your employees to know what the next steps and ambitions are. This is especially crucial during tough times, and we’ve all had a few those over recent years. Being motivated and seeing where you are going will keep the enthusiasm and commitment levels up.
There has been a lot written about how money is not a motivator, it’s a core need, but it rarely makes someone go above and beyond, generate loyalty or passion.
Our top tips for creating your business vision
#1 – Don’t get hung up on the terminology – we may have just defined the difference between vision, mission, purpose and values, but you will find others who name these things slightly differently.
The terminology doesn’t matter, what matters is that you have these bases covered; that you have something which covers what the business’ direction is, why it matters, how you are going to achieve it, and what success looks like.
Critically, these need to be understood by all of the relevant audiences: your team, employees and customers alike.
#2 – Ensure everything is connected – your purpose should be clearly linked to your vision, and your mission to your values. If they don’t seamlessly and clearly connect, they won’t be achievable by the team.
The team are the ones demonstrating and living those values, and delivering these outcomes, so if the various aspects of your business direction don’t match and connect up, your team can’t do it!
#3 – Review your progress against the vision and review your performance against your values – all too often these business direction statements are vanity pieces or are only ever remembered during business strategy sessions. In fact, they really ought to be used on a regular, if not daily, basis to review progress against.
When you come to reviewing your business’ performance, look at how it’s been achieved against your values; and when looking at the overall progress of your business, how does it compare with your vision?
Why having a clear vision is important
When you are embarking on a long journey to somewhere you’ve not been to before, do you undertake a detailed analysis of a map, get a vague set of directions, plug it into the SatNav and trust it to get you there, or do you do nothing at all and just go?
Every scenario, except for the first, will lead to some degree of stress, wrong turns, uncertainties and perhaps even missing the end destination altogether. This is precisely how having a clear vision and direction avoids that happening to you and your business.
Business coach Tim Rylatt is co-founder of UK Growth Coach, which provides business owners with coaching to help them simplify the business of business.
Tim’s coaching background comes from working with the world’s largest business coaching firm for over a decade, and since then, from running his own profitable coaching enterprises. He has worked with around 250 companies throughout his career and is a published author on the subject. Alongside being a co-founder of UK Growth Coach, he is also a Director of two award-winning marketing agencies and has real-world experience of being a business owner too.