1. Vision, Mission and Values

Your Vision or “Why does your business exist?”

The vision describes the future your company is working to achieve. This is the reason for your existence as a company. This may be something that you never live to achieve, but are constantly striving for as a company. It should be positive, motivating, and fun to talk about.

In order to come up with a vision it may help to imagine the future, maybe 10 or 15 years from now. What do you want people to say about you and the work you’ve done? What lasting impression do you want to leave on your community? On the world? This is the time to be lofty and to think big.

Examples:

“Advancing man’s capability to explore the heavens”. (NASA)

“To live in a healthy, honest and supportive world”. (Core Foods)

Your Mission or “What does your business do?”

Your mission describes what your company does to achieve your vision. If the vision is this place in the future that you are trying to arrive at, the mission is made up of the various steps along the way to that future place. It’s a series of milestones that are measureable, and once completed you move onto the next one. Try to keep the scope of these milestones within a realistic timeframe, i.e. the next 12 months if your a small business.

Examples:

“Put a man on the moon by the end of the 60s”. (NASA)

“We make the world’s most delicious and nourishing healthy foods”. (Core Foods)

The Values or “What does your business stand for?”

These are the principles or beliefs that drive your company and guide your actions, they help you determine what you will or won’t do.

Here’s a list of possible values to get you started:

Credibility Hope Resourcefulness Accountability Customer Service Humility
Respect Accuracy Decisiveness Humor Responsibility Achievement
Dependability Imagination Restraint Acknowledgement Determination Improvement
Results-oriented Adaptability Dignity Inclusiveness Risk-Taking Agility
Diligence Independence Sacrifice Altruism Directness Individuality
Security Appreciation Discipline Innovation Self-control Approachability
Discretion Inspiration Self-reliance Attitude Diversity Integrity
Sensitivity Authenticity Empathy Intelligence Serenity Autonomy
Empowerment Intimacy Service Balance Encouragement Intuition
Simplicity Being the best Energy Leadership Sincerity Belonging
Enthusiasm Learning Skill Boldness Equality Making a difference
Solution orientation Camaraderie Excellence Open-mindedness Speed Candor
Fairness Opportunity Standardization Certainty Faith Optimism
Structure Challenge Family Organization Success Change
Fearlessness Outcome Orientation Systemization Charity Firmness Outstanding Service
Teamwork Cleverness Flexibility Passion Thoroughness Collaboration
Focus Performance Thrift Commitment Forgiveness Perkiness
Tolerance Communication Freedom Perseverance Tradition Community
Frugality Personal Growth Trust Compassion Fun Philanthropy
Truth Competition Going the extra mile Pride Understanding Concern for others
Gratitude Progress Unflappability Confidence Growth Punctuality
Unity Consistency Happiness Quality Vision Continuous improvement
Hard Work Recognition Wellness Courage Honesty Relationships
Winning Creativity Honor Reliability Wisdom

Source: The 8 Factors

Tips:

Remember that once you’ve developed your vision, mission and values you need to share it with employees, don’t keep it a secret!

 

2. Customers & Competition

Target Customers

Who are the people that will connect with your vision and values? Who will connect with the idea behind your business? Demographic based descriptions like “Females 18-30 in San Francisco” do not effectively describe target customers. Instead, focus on what specific needs your business solves, and the people who have those needs.

Examples:

Traditional furniture retailers employ sales staff, but at Ikea, the customer experience is self service. Customers navigate huge showrooms with many products on display, pull items off warehouse shelves and assemble them at home. Ikea serves people who are happy to trade service for cost and are willing to complete some of the manufacturing steps themselves.

Southwest Airlines offers friendly service, and short, frequent, low-cost flights for customers travelling from midsize US cities and secondary airports in large US cities. They serve price sensitive customers who value convenience.

Tips:

Try to finish the following sentence: Our Products or Services serve people who…

The Competition

When running your business it can be easy to forget about the context or landscape that it exists in and miss the external forces that affect it. Competitors can offer substitutes to your product or service. By learning more about who you competitors really are you can develop a brand strategy that is different and that only you can own, so customers have no choice but to come to you.

Tips:

Its important to remember that your competition is anyone that could serve as a replacement for your product or service. A coffee shop competes with other coffee shops in the area, but it also competes with juice bars, tea shops and stores selling red bull.

Your Competitive Advantages

Your competitive advantage is what makes you different and better than your competitors. Companies achieve competitive advantage by performing activities differently, or performing different activities than rivals.

Examples:

Jiffy Lube specializes in automotive lubricants (oil changes) and does not offer other car repair or maintenance services. Their focus allows them to provide faster service at a lower cost.

A coffee shop’s competitive advantage could come from the unique beans they source, the specific method they use to brew coffee, the training they provide employees and the unique locations of their stores.