“Your mission Jim, should you choose to accept it, as always, should you or any of your MI Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape/disc will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Jim.” Do you recognize the beginning of the famous television series of the 60s and 70s and popularized by the movies starring Tom Cruise? We are speaking of the Mission Impossible series. The show starring Peter Graves as a secret agent who worked for the government and accepted the most dangerous missions.
As an entrepreneur, a small business owner, you have much in common with the lead character of the Mission Impossible series. You will not encounter communist spies trying to destroy the planet and will not be working to save the world. As a business owner you have entered a lifestyle and community where most ordinary people could not succeed. The truth be told, if you are an entrepreneur or a small business owner, the cold facts state that you have an 80% failure rate and being out of business in five years or less.
There can be several reasons that many companies fail. We see so many companies struggling to succeed due to the lack of a well-crafted mission strategy, and an easy-to-communicate message that resonates with customers. Let’s address the importance of a strong mission strategy for your company and why it is important. Prior to proceeding we want to address a few important questions;
- How does your mission and strategy guide your employee behavior?
- Does your mission strategy reflect your core values?
- How does your mission statement link the company strategy back to the vision and mission?
Defining Mission and Strategy
Your go to market strategy should contain a very specific description of your company’s mission. The best way to describe a Mission is with a statement that proclaims your company’s vision. The Mission statement goes beyond the company’s vision and tells everyone, your employees and your customers, what your organization exists to do. What are the company’s objectives? What are the company’s values? Organizations can capture these desires in a comprehensive “mission statement.” And, that is where the mission dies, in a static piece of wording that no one buys into and no one cares.
A strategy defines the way the mission gets accomplished. A working strategy involves specific actions and timelines needed to fulfill the mission.
We believe that both the mission and strategy be linked to a company’s Go to Market strategy. Both mission and strategy exist together to achieve one aim and that is the mission.
We begin by forming the mission statement. Like all things trendy, the mission statement was the darling of corporations starting 30 years ago. Most companies craved a mission statement. I lived through that era working within some of our nation’s largest Fortune 500 companies, I can tell you that formal mission statements did not fully cascade down to the employees. Neither did they influence the culture that it addressed them to. They were just words on paper.
For the entrepreneur and the small business owner, developing a mission statement becomes essential only if it communicates clearly the company’s mission. This is accomplished by communicating a clear and succinct vision that your company and customers aligns with and value.
We see this is applied in a military context. There are a series of actions that take place before the military undertake any mission. Here is an example;
- What is the mission? This is where the commanding officer defines the mission that is about to be undertaken. The key to this meeting is clarity. They must understand the scope and the objectives of the mission. What is the mission looking to achieve? There can be no room for vagueness or ambiguity.
- Plan the Mission–There is an adage that states “plan your work, work your plan.” This holds true to this very day. What are the objectives and plan needed to accomplish the mission? Have you taken into consideration any contingencies should something go wrong?
- Mission Briefing–define the roles and responsibilities of those undertaking the mission, set the expectation levels, ensure clarity in your preparation and execution.
- Deep Dive the Mission–Rehearse and plan for anything that can, and more than likely, will go wrong. Go over the basic elements of the plan so that when it comes time to execute that everyone knows the role and can execute based on memory.
- Execute the Mission – This is where it all comes together to accomplish the mission. It is here that the mission strategy along with all its various components becomes a reality. And where the mission will either succeed or fail.
Why a Mission Strategy?
If I can cite one virtue to developing a mission strategy, it is this clarity. The best performance comes from those who have a clear roadmap and a plan that gets them from point A to point B. Our experience has shown us that many entrepreneurs and small business owners do not have a mission strategy. When asked about their business or what they are trying to achieve, they have multiple answers and worse yet, their employees are not “engaged” with the overall strategy. Some define their strategy by what their financial goals are. Others define their strategy by the technology of their product. Success is driven when a clear vision is linked to a specific mission, wrapped within a cohesive strategy with defined objectives.
Impossible to Mission Possible
We started with the opening lines from Mission Impossible and now we have a challenge for you. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to develop a clear mission strategy for your business, one that presents a clear vision, one that lays out clear objectives and is communicated to your employees and your clients. In doing so, you just might take your business from Mission Impossible to Mission Possible. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck!
Mark Acevedo and Michael Queralt are key principals at Innovating Partners, LLC. Innovating Partners helps funded startups and small businesses find a path to market fit, generating new sales and revenue growth.