Do You Know Where You Are Going?

Do you remember why you set up your business? It might sound a simple question but over time the running of a business can move those that founded it on to ways of thinking, acting and dreaming that is very different from their expectations in those early days.

When you have overheads to manage, monthly wage bills to meet, supplier contracts to negotiate and tax demands to plan for, the dream and ambition present when founding your company can get lost in the busyness and daily priorities of running the company.

I would expect that, like me, you started your business adventures with a desire to solve a problem. Maybe you saw an opportunity to deliver a service in a better way or create a product that was superior to those already on the market. You might have spotted a gap and felt you could create a business around filling that need. Back then, your personal ambitions (and needs) would have been prevalent and you will no doubt have dreamed of what the business could one day become.

In a business magazine today, I read a comment that (to paraphrase) stated whatever our motives ‘we all started our enterprises to make money’. I thought that a little sad. Money is a necessity of life and a good business should generate more money than the cost of its activities – that is simple, clear math. However, I know that 9 years after starting my business, I do not work this hard purely for money. Income is a result of my business activities and not the driver for them. Clever observers of business and life have realised this and examined motivation – just look up the observations of Dan Pink or Simon Sinek online.

My desire to work and I would argue that those of most other business owners, are connected to an internal motivation or an affinity to a cause of some kind. You might describe this in words such as ‘I want to achieve something’, ‘I will improve a market’ or ‘I am going to offer an excellent service’. A key to leading a business that is in harmony with your internal motivation is not to allow yourself to become so busy in the daily journey that you forget where you are heading towards. Some people call it their ‘mission’ others might say ‘purpose’ or ‘reason’. Whatever your terminology, when did you last check what you wanted your business to achieve? And, then whether that is still relevant today?

For me, in 2009 I was attracted to finding ways leaders could better understand the knowledge they have and then USE it well, i.e. systematically act upon that knowledge. Theory is important, academic analysis valuable, but to me (and my co-founder) we saw too many competent, capable leaders lacking the confidence to apply the knowledge they possessed. For me this is the driver for how we at Know and Do Limited operate; it is what we do with every client and the way we do it. This purpose informs all our plans and priorities in the business; our mission is to literally ‘KNOW and DO’.

And here is a key factor in growing business. That the founder, or key people, should know the mission of a business is important. However, the smart business leaders make sure that they communicate that mission and explain it to everyone in the business. This is not a one-off act, it is a repetitive process or words, symbols, actions, decisions and explanations. We challenge business leaders to make sure that whatever their size, their people can connect individual/team roles with achieving the mission. If not, it can simply breed disconnection and confusion.

So, to help you could start by answering the 4 foundational questions listed below. We recommend you ask a group of key people in your business to answer these and then compare notes. Writing answers down first is important, it enables you to note where initial words may be similar, but their meaning and expression are being used differently. From this, you can start to use your purpose to set out how to get your business to its right destination.

  1. What is your mission as a business? [Why your organisation exists]
  2. What is your vision for the business? [The big goal that inspires you]
  3. What are your core business values? [Your standards of behaviour]
  4. What are your key business objectives? [Measures and metrics of success]

And remember, if you would like some ideas on how to start and complete this process you can contact our office an informal chat and take some of the knowledge we’ve gathered from supporting clients and apply it to your company!