Why did you go into business? Was it because you value your independence and like the thought of being your own boss? Did you think you would make more money setting your own hours, and would have more freedom to explore your creativity? Perhaps you like the thrill of consolidating new clients and working to your own exacting standards, rather than someone else’s?
Whatever the reason, those factors that set you down the path to self-employment are a good reminder of why you’re in business in the first place, especially when times are challenging or you find yourself experiencing doubt, slow growth or lack of clarity over your purpose. If this is you, then there are ways to reinvigorate your motivation and generate momentum, so you can get back to enjoying the entrepreneurial benefits of controlling your own future.
A meaningful mission
When was the last time you evaluated your business’ mission, vision and values? Or more to the point, do you even have them? Now, before your eyes glaze over, some will argue that having a firm grasp on what these are will do more for your bottom line than you may think.
HIA National Treasurer, David Linaker, who had a long career in managing a diverse range of businesses at building materials manufacturing heavyweight CSR – and became the go-to man for turning around underperforming businesses – says in his experience clearly defining your mission, vision and values is hugely important in improving business performance.
David believes that this aspect is even more critical for small to medium-sized companies. ‘Your mission statement is basically the reason for your business’ existence, and the starting point that really says, “Why am I doing this”?’ he explains.
David has helped to evaluate and reinvigorate businesses, including those of HIA members. His first step is to look at normal business metrics, such as turnover, margins, cash flow, debtors and product offering, target markets and business plans. This gives him an idea of what the major issues are as well as the opportunities. Once he has all that information, he then gets down to the meat of it – the mission statement – or lack thereof. This is what he regards as one of the most important parts of the business.
As current chair of HIA’s judging panel for the HIA Professional Builder Awards – a highly sought-after award which aims to raise the level of professionalism amongst builders (particularly SMEs) – David says that an effective mission statement needs to permeate all aspects of the business and be consistent with the way the business is run and how it presents itself to staff and customers.
‘We’ve read submissions where clearly the mission statement is a throwaway line and it doesn’t tally up with the business plan, vision and core values,’ he says. ‘But for the standout businesses, which win HIA awards, whatever their mission statement is, their vision, values and strategy are all consistent and support the mission statement. In these winning businesses all staff know what their company stands for, where it is going and what their role is in achieving the company’s goals.’
He adds the managing directors and owners of these businesses communicate, live and breathe their mission and values. Often, these businesses have gone on to double or triple their turnover. ‘We can see they’ve gone to a lot of time and effort, and it has helped them achieve their goals and significantly improved their business and lifestyles.