This is the story of four companies, in the same industry, in the same town. It is a perfect study of mission and vision statements. Even though these business owners were in the same industry, were direct competitors, and had the same prospects, their purpose and companies were amazingly different.
Who you are, what your purpose is, and where you want to go can be completely different and should be from anyone else. When you can differentiate yourself on this high level, you create a business that is not only spectacularly unique but also creates greater happiness for everyone involved.
I once found myself coaching the owners of four separate bookkeeping companies at the same time. I am a bookkeeper magnet! During this time, the economy was at its worst. Everyone was in pain, and many people were scratching for solutions. It became common practice to only look to the industry know-it-alls to be advised on how to be profitable-in this case-as a bookkeeping firm. But I was able to move each of these companies toward their goals in very different ways, not by being a know-it-all, not by knowing everything about bookkeeping businesses, but by allowing them to find their solutions in their own mission and vision.
Let me illustrate first by introducing you to these four owners and what they first presented as their problem when I met them.
Meet Rhonda. Rhonda was very successful, but even though she had a competent staff, she was tired. She had to control and oversee everything in her business. She wanted a vacation. Was there a better way?
Meet Ruby: Ruby had been a CPA for almost 40 years. It wasn’t that she wasn’t able to work hard-she just didn’t see how she would be able to retire comfortably.
Meet Molly: Molly was one of the best and fastest bookkeepers around, but she was broke. If something didn’t give, she’d have to get a job to support her family.
Meet Jane: Jane owned a highly competitive bookkeeping firm, but she was losing clients. She was working hard to keep her staff busy, but she was also broke and didn’t know if her present business model was sustainable.
The antidote: Before setting specific steps and goals for action, which each business owner was used to doing, I asked each of them to spend time articulating their mission, their vision, and their value proposition. Why? So that each tactic and action they decided upon would be aligned with their greater purpose… like this:
Mission: Who are you? Why are you here? What is wrong with the world, and how do you intend to fix it?
Vision: Where are you going? What does your version of success look, feel, and taste like? What will the world look like if you successfully fulfill your Mission?
Value Proposition: The result that your customer gets from working with you.
Here is what each business owner discovered about herself:
Rhonda was very successful, with a niche market for contractors and building companies. She had a small staff and high profits. Business was getting more difficult, but her main complaint was that she couldn’t get away. She was the classic example of an owner who was tied to her business with golden handcuffs. What she dreamed of was a turnkey business that could run without her. Her need: put systems into place that would align her staff to oversee quality control so that she would be free.
Ruby had done taxes, was controlling, and now was preparing books for other tax preparers-solo style. But her dream was to teach. She was tired of shuffling papers, and she was an expert at helping business owners understand their financial information. She was witty, clever, and a seasoned speaker. She desperately wanted to make the change. Her need: make the transition from marketing her service to marketing herself.
Molly had moved from being employed as a bookkeeper to being an independent contractor to having a small staff. Her desire was to become the biggest firm in town and aggressively grow her business and have a large, reputable staff. She’d do anything to dominate her field. She was aggressively improving her own skills (night school for her accounting degree) while at the same time hiring people with degrees and skills above her own. Her need: growth, growth, and more growth.
Jane wanted to reinvent her business by developing online training products to create residual income. She was magnetic and technically adept. She was willing and able to learn how to be successful with Internet marketing. Her need: develop a new skill and start making money as quickly as possible.
Four companies. Four dreams. Their next hurdle was to create their Value Proposition.
Rhonda- The empowered team to be your full solution in the construction industry: from Internet hosting to prevailing wages, bids, cost controls, and analysis.
Ruby- Teaching small-business owners to understand the power of their own financial statements.
Molly- The outsourced bookkeeping firm that becomes a part of your small to medium-size business.
Jane- Helping the small-business owner and bookkeeping professional-online, 24/7 showing how to operate QuickBooks in an easy-to-use tutorial.
Then we created strategic goals according to their Mission, Vision, and Value Proposition. Each one is setting goals and working hard on these actions:
Rhonda is using high-performance techniques to bring her team’s skills to a higher level. She has changed her role as the leader by coaching her staff and not overseeing and solving all the problems. They work together on a regular basis to create and adjust systems that allow them to solve problems, make decisions, and handle all the tasks in the business without her.
Ruby is busy producing her material and getting ready to launch live workshops.
Molly has twice the staff and twice the profits while she works with her team on marketing and selling themselves to new clientele.
Jane has already created the product and is now employing state-of-the-art techniques to launch her tutorials online. The skill is difficult and managing her time is a challenge, but her list is growing, and her online sales are improving.
If you started reading this article thinking all bookkeeping firms are the same, see how different they can be? If you are faced with a problem, how do you make decisions that are strategically aligned with your Mission and Vision? For each of these business owners, it may have looked as if they would all need the same solution. After this work, they were able to create goals well suited to their dreams, and they get closer to achieving these dreams every day.