Are you easily able to describe the soul of your company? You know, those aspects of your company that are authentic to how you and all your employees operate on a daily basis?
The soul of your company is important. It’s the soul that attracts your ideal customers as they see a soul-mate in you and therefore feel compelled to do business with you. Your soul is what you get known for as an employer and makes it easy for you to locate ideal employees, even without advertising. And a powerfully lived soul is what causes those less than ideal employees to willingly opt out and change jobs without you ever having to fire them.
So let me ask again: Are you easily able to describe the soul of your company?
I’ll let you in on a secret – the soul of your company is rooted in the culture and the culture of any organization is found in the overlap between the vision, mission, and values. So, to paraphrase, have you identified and documented your vision, mission, and values?
If not, it’s time to prioritize this activity. Don’t mutter under your breath that you are too small to worry about this. No company is ever too small since the soul of your company is a huge part of your brand and successful companies have strong, repeatable brands.
So, even if your company is just you it’s time to identify the soul. To do this, let’s break it down into its components: Vision, Mission, and Values.
The vision of your company is the big overarching reason that drove you to start your business. Why did you feel compelled to start selling your widgets? How do you want to change your neighborhood, your country, or the world? What is that one thing that if you accomplish it before you die you will know that you did something worthwhile?
The vision of your company may be large yet achievable like Microsoft’s early vision to see a computer on every desk. If so, then like Microsoft expanded its vision to a computer on every desk and in every home, as you see that it is going to be achieved you must change or expand your vision.
Alternatively a vision may be so big that it acts like a star on the horizon. It will guide your travels and yet never be reached. Zappos.com’s current vision of “Delivering happiness to the world” is an excellent example. I doubt they will ever be 100% successful in their quest as I have trouble envisioning everyone in the world being happy at the same time for an extended period of time. (I mean, I know people in my own family who have trouble sustaining happiness for more than seconds at a time. Just saying.) When a company adopts a guide-star vision they may reword it at times to keep the thoughts relevant. However, there is never a need to change it completely.
The mission of your company is what you do. In its simplest format it states: “ABC Company provides _________services / products to ___________ market segment.” The mission does not need to be sexy, sound powerful, or use big words. The best missions are simple, to the point, and easy to implement. One of the better examples of a well written mission statement is from Costco: “Costco is a membership warehouse club, dedicated to bringing our members the best possible prices on quality brand-name merchandise.” After reading this you have a good idea of exactly what Costco does and if it’s relevant to you.
The values of your company are those things that define how business is done on a daily basis. Values define the underlying attitude which adds personality to the company. Values are also the beliefs and principles to which you will adhere 100% of the time, even if it means you will lose the sale. Southwest Airlines (SWA) CEO Herb Kelleher once responded to a customer who regularly complained about everything that SWA valued: “Dear _____, We will miss you. Love, Herb”*
Are you able to clearly describe the soul of your company? If yes, take care to live the soul every day, it’s a valuable asset and like silver it will tarnish when not used.
If not, what can you do today to become more clear?
Have a great day!
*SWA quote: Nuts! By Kevin and Jackie Freiberg p.270