Category Archives: Plan It

What is your mission?

What is the mission of your business?  When is the last time you looked at your mission statement?

I’m hoping your answer to the latter question is, “Michelle, I just looked at it an hour ago as it is emblazoned in hot pink on my walls.”  But, if you are like most small business owners (myself included) you just winced with the thought of it and mumbled “Make the bad man stop.”

But, it’s time to face it: you need to know what your business is all about and what the purpose is of your business.

We’re going to do two things today: break down a successful mission statement and craft one of our own.  EGADS!

Starbucks’ Mission Statement

The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary is a great read.  The book breaks down the secrets of all that is Starbucks.  The company has an amazing mission statement:

“To inspire and nurture the human spirit— one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”

WOW! That’s a lot of pressure for a little cup of coffee! The book goes on to talk about how the company’s five guiding principles direct everyone in the organization to achieve this mission.  They are:

  1. Make it your own (Be welcoming, be genuine, be considerate, be knowledgeable, be involved)
  2. Everything Matters  (It really is the little things that count)
  3. Surprise and Delight  (What is the extra something? The je ne sais quoi?)
  4. Embrace Resistance (Learn from criticism, Challenge skepticism, Do not avoid conflict)
  5. Leave Your Mark (Leave a powerful and positive mark on the community)

By having this clearly communicated mission statement – and the five guide principles – the company has been able to achieve unbridled success.  Employees know what to do and how to do it.  Clients understand the product and the company.

YOUR Mission Statement

Now… drumroll, please!  What about your mission statement?  Dust it off and let’s get started.  Here are questions taken from Entrepreneur Magazine’s Start Your Own Business to help you in the construction/re-construction of your company’s mission statement:

  • Why are you in business?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What is the nature of your products and services?
  • What level of service do you provide?
  • What roles do you and your employees play?
  • What kind of relationships do you maintain with suppliers?
  • How do you differ from competitors?
  • How will you reach your goals?
  • What underlying philosophies or values guide your business?

Spend some time fleshing these out.  They will help refine the backbone of your business. On Tuesday, we’ll work on fine-tuning these and helping you turn them into a working mission statement.  We’re on a mission!

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The Art of Distribution

courtesy of Little Red Glass: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7448182@N07/

courtesy of Little Red Glass: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7448182@N07/

Today, in the last segment of our three part series on marketing, we uncover the Art of Distribution.  We’ve covered the glamour of promotion and the secrets of selling.  Distribution answers the question: how will you get your product or service to clients? The ability to deliver and to do so efficiently and effectively is the cornerstone of marketing your product.

Here are some questions to get you brainstorming on your distribution:

  • How do you distribute your product or service: online, mail-order, appointment-only, retail?
  • What are the costs associated with this distribution?
  • What time frames are relevant to this distribution?
  • What personnel (if any) are required for this distribution?
  • What is the transaction process involved?
  • What sort of training of employees will be required?
  • What sort of payment is accepted?

If you’ve been in business for at least a couple years, you are pretty familiar with your distribution plan.  But, have you dissected each of these elements to ensure that you are distributing your product in the most effective, most efficient, and most lucrative method? Are there alternatives to your current method of distribution?  Are there costs you can cut?  Are there services you can upgrade for your clientele?  Are there outlets you haven’t explored?

Do any of these sound like potential trouble spots to which you can relate:

  • You continue to exhibit at the same wedding show, but aren’t sure of its returns
  • Your website traffic isn’t what it used to be
  • Your store employees don’t seem too jazzed about the product they are selling
  • A vendor who keeps shipping late and has become less and less reliable
  • Freight on inbound shipments is quite expensive
  • Your client wants to pay with VISA but you only accept cash and checks

We’ll explore these scenarios in future posts, but until then here’s a thought: sketch it out.  I am a huge fan of flow diagrams. A flow diagram is helpful in visualizing the chain of events relating to your distribution.  Here’s a simple version of one:

It can be simple or complex… anything that will help you make informed business decisions.  Sketch out your distribution plan.  Put it on your wall.  Admire your artwork!

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Filed under Excercises, Plan It, Strategy