Define your mission statement
You’re nothing without a mission statement for your business. It underpins your business objectives and overarching business strategy.
Start by ensuring that you have one and that it’s as relevant to your business as the day you first wrote it.
Your mission statement needn’t be complicated. In fact, the simpler, the better.
Consider the mission statement, or ‘purpose’, of the UK arm of Spanish banking giant, Santander, for 2016 to 2018: ‘Here to help you prosper’.
Santander UK’s purpose is: ‘To help people and businesses prosper’ and its aim is: ‘To be the best retail and commercial bank, earning the lasting loyalty of our people, customers, shareholders and communities’.
It’s no coincidence that the business reported a phenomenal surge in business for 2016, with its current account balances rocketing from £12 billion to £65 billion in that year alone.
A clearly defined mission statement sets out the long-term aim for your business and helps to keep you and your team on the same page.
Understand the essence of a business objective
Now you’re ready to review, or perhaps set, your business objectives. Think of these as the goals that will help you achieve your mission statement.
Stuck for inspiration? No problem; simply have a nose around rivals’ efforts as food for thought.
In Santander UK’s case, the bank defines its ‘strategic priorities’ in the form of four pillars:
• People: creating a strong internal culture and being the best bank to work for;
• Customers: earning the loyalty of retail and corporate customers and achieving operational and digital excellence;
• Shareholders: reinforcing capital and risk management and growing a range of metrics, such as earnings per share;
• Communities: Investing in its universities and supporting local communities.
A comprehensive set of business objectives comprises clearly defined goals around profitability, customer service, talent, corporate values and marketing, so consider your objectives in relation to each of these areas.
Communicate to staff
Setting your business objectives is only the start of this exercise. Next, you need to communicate these objectives to staff, explaining what they are, why they matter and how each team member can play a part in achieving them.
Strong leaders clearly communicate the vision they have for their business and invite their team to help them achieve it, supporting them every step of the way.
Setting business objectives is key to getting ahead, which is why it’s important to banish common misconceptions, such as believing that your business is too small to warrant setting goals in the first place.
Similarly, not having a desire for world domination doesn’t cut the mustard. You still need a statement, or how will you or your staff ever know how you’re performing and be able to benchmark yourselves against your competitors?
Prepare for challenges
Every business leader encounters challenges that threaten the future success of their empire; from a bearish market to a lack of management nous undermining their efforts, or perhaps a large number of your all-female team going on maternity leave in one go!
You also need to build in a margin for error. Not all staff appointments or new business development plans work, so you need to build in time to recover and realign yourselves to your mission statement in the event that things go wrong.
A comprehensive business plan will have a built in risk management strategy that incorporates such risks to your business.
So, what are you waiting for? Get planning.
*Nigel Poole is Founder and Managing Director at Eurolink Veco™