The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Make Your Mission an Integral Part of Your Daily Activities
Write down your mission statement and any essential points that define your business. Don’t just put it aside. Make sure this is drilled into everyone’s mind. Before you decide to take any actions, ask if this is consistent with your original intent. Pose this question to others and encourage them to answer honestly. This way, keeping you on track is a cooperative endeavor.
Create a Protocol Template
Every project we work on has to go through a very basic “pass/fail” criteria list. The series of questions we use to evaluate the project allow us to refocus on our mission and whether this project will really help our clients. Before the criteria, we tended to chase a lot of cool shiny objects but lost sight of where we really wanted to go.
Regularly Evaluate Seemingly Small Decisions
It is easy to lose sight of your original mission once you start running your business. Evaluate seemingly small decisions with some regularity to ensure they align with your mission. That way, small diversions will not turn into large departures from the original company tenets. There’s a reason that you created the mission, and it should be the guiding principal for your company.
– Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports, LLC
Create a Vision Summary
We use a Vision Summary document from “Scaling Up” that has both our purpose and our mission along with our core values, brand promises, and a few other key elements on it. Each week in our coaching sessions, this Vision Summary is attached to the document we fill out for our managers. In addition, we have daily huddles and weekly company meetings where they are also front and center.
Publicly Define Your Values
When I got started I thought “corporate values” were mostly a waste of time — but I was completely wrong. Values help you make critical business decisions in hiring, management and defining strategy. If you haven’t done so, take your team through a values exercise. You can find a good one in the book “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business.”
Set Constant Reminders
I have a picture on my desk of the first office I ever had of my company. This is a humble reminder of how far I have come since the start of my company. It also reminds me that it’s taken hard work, dedication and most importantly consistency in our values and mission as a team to get to where we are today. I use this to inspire my team every day and move forward with these credentials in mind.
Allow Your Business to Evolve
For a new business, the original business plan is unlikely to match reality. For an existing business, the conditions on the ground are going to change with time. So your business has to evolve to meet these conditions. If it doesn’t evolve, a business will likely cease to function and serve its mission in any capacity.
Create a Blueprint for Mission-Focused Leadership
Setting clear incentives for each of your company’s key leaders will enable them to understand exactly what is required of them as the business scales. For the longer term, make sure to set several overarching goals. This will empower them to assist and motivate each other to stay accountable, and will help build up overall morale and camaraderie within the company.
Keep in Touch With Your Early Hires
Even if you’re not able to keep all of your original early hires (life happens!) you should stay in touch with them. If you did a good job hiring, they were/are strong advocates and executors of your mission and they’ll keep you accountable even as your company grows. They’ll offer interesting insights because they have firsthand experience with company values but can now give third-party advice.
Ask Yourself Tough Questions
Put company culture first and be sure to ask yourself tough questions — especially ones that keep you up at night. Revisit your values and don’t be afraid to tweak them when necessary. As companies grow, business practices tend to change and evolve to fit the needs of the organization. Stay rooted in your original mission and allow for enough flexibility so you can still experiment and move quickly.
Visualize the Change
It is expected that a business will continue to evolve based on market trends, market needs, technology advances, etc. However, with every shift in strategy, I like to physically change and edit the mission statement to visually see the change and keep myself in tune with what it has been. While adapting is key, it is important not to get too off track.
Repeat Yourself, Repeat Yourself, Repeat Yourself
As a small team in the early stages, it’s easy to take your original mission and values for granted. But as the team grows, these values need to be clearly expressed and taught, repeatedly. At Book In A Box, we created a detailed culture document that articulates our core values and principles. We review it with new hires and with the existing team monthly to ensure our mission always stays top of mind.
This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.