Your mission

Business is self-serving and this is the problem.

Its (the business entity) goal is to provide a return for investors or shareholders. In fact, as a leader in a venture-backed company, the only goal is a return in a set amount of time. That’s why the investors put money in.

This doesn’t mean whatever you are working on needs to be a soulless shell. Most businesses start with a mission but, somewhere along the way, get lost in the “shareholder” value circle of death.

So many things conspire to erode the company mission it is hard to keep it front and centre. When revenue needs to grow or margins need to increase due to investor requirements (present or future), it tends to supersede the mission. Most of the time these corporate responsibilities are in opposition to the mission.

No one wants to hear about the company’s commitment to fiduciary obligations — outside of the board and investors. This is where steadfast focus on the mission is needed.

To keep it front and centre, ask yourself this sequence of questions and make sure the answers aren’t focused on what the company wants. They should focus on what your customers want.

  1. Why did I (we) start the company?
  2. What was the burning problem we are trying to solve?
  3. Who were we trying to solve the problem for?
  4. What do they need from us to solve their problem?
  5. What has changed since we started the company? Are we still aligned with the original problem?

From there, you should be able to craft a broader mission to build around the company.

For example. Trexity is a last-mile delivery company. Seems so straight-forward. Our mission is to deliver products for our customers. But that’s the same mission as FedEx and Bill’s delivery company. Boring. Uninspired. Commoditized.

Instead, we focused on the problem that our customers were having. They were getting crushed by larger retailers that could get products to customers faster — they were getting eaten by Amazon and WalMart and any other logistically-adept retailers. We set out to level the playing field.

Our mission is to allow your local, Main Street merchants out-compete the big brands that are homogenizing our communities. We are here to support local small and medium-sized businesses in defending and growing their reach in their cities. We understand that SMBs are the blood of a vibrant and prospering city and we are helping them build their business so they can survive and thrive.

Notice that I didn’t mention delivery once? That’s how we make money but that’s not how our customers do. We want to extend THEIR reach. Increase THEIR revenue. Stabilize and grow THEIR business. If they don’t succeed, we don’t succeed.

That’s a mission.