by Melissa Piper Nelson
Many platforms for business success are released each year. Some tout the importance of capitalization, market segmentation and competitive differentiation. It may seem very complex, but in reality, business success begins early on when you develop just one main platform that is divided into four separate categories: Vision Statement (V); Mission Statement (M); Core Values (C); and Community (C).
The Vision Statement
A vision statement is developed to help you plan for the future. It asks you to project where and what your company will be years from now. By envisioning your future and putting that down on paper, you are affirming your ability to be in business for the long run as well as outlining how you expect it to happen and the path you will take to get there. It is a statement that you can go back to occasionally, or every day, to measure your success and realign your actions with how you defined your business to begin with. While some business owners see developing a vision statement as frivolous, it is amazing how a short paragraph, which outlines your total business expectations, can help you keep moving forward.
The Mission Statement
Mission statements define how you will deliver the products or services you are offering. In a few short sentences, you make an agreement with yourself, partners, employees, or family members on how you expect to make good on the promises outlined in your vision statement. The statement should say what you will produce, how it will be offered, under what circumstances and to whom. This message sets the stage for your entire operation by putting the power of words into action. If at any time you feel you are not on track with marketing, sales and return on your investment, going back to your mission statement reminds you how your business plan should flow.
Your Business’s Core Values
Core values set the parameters for your operation. What are the main components you will follow and not follow? Here you set stringent operational conditions of how you will run your business. What are your main concerns – integrity of product, exceptional customer service, fair labor, honesty in practice? What is it that totally defines who you are as a business owner and how you define your business practices? Developing core values goes a step beyond your mission statement by putting a fence around deliverables. It says, “I will do this with my business, but I will not do this,” or “I will know when I am acting responsibly when I do this, but am acting outside my parameters when I do this.” Core values are standards you set for you and your business even in challenging sales environments.
Community can be defined in many ways, but in business it often refers to the groups and organizations with whom you are involved. Before you start a business you generally know in which “community” you are doing business – your local farmers’ market organization, a chain store, wholesalers, CSA-members, or trade associates. As your business grows and changes, so will your community. Your vision and mission statements, along with your core values, again define your parameters for working with many different community members along the way. If you are challenged with a great opportunity within a new community that sounds exciting, but is outside of your vision for the business and does not meet your operational conditions or your core values, you must decide if it is worth re-defining these for the return on investment. Keeping a list of communities you encounter gives you an idea of how your business has grown, changed and adapted. It can also pinpoint if you are still aligned with your original vision.
Develop a strong VMCC platform
New ideas on how to measure business success are expressed every day. In a global economy with instant feedback, business owners are challenged to “go this way” or “grab on to this trend now.” If you have developed a strong VMCC platform, you already know if and when it is time to take on new opportunities or stick to your operational foundation. Having a vision for the future, a mission statement which defines your venture, strong core values by which to judge the integrity of offerings and a sound definition of the communities you wish to be a part of, prepare you for many of the decisions that will come your way.
Each piece of the VMCC platform takes time to formulate and develop. Careful thought and planning are necessary to ensure each segment fully represents your business projections and expectations. When completed, you should have a solid foundation from which to operate and grow successfully, defined wholly by your parameters.