Purpose Statement

A few years ago, I came across the book, Conscious Capitalism and was impressed with how they captured so succinctly the importance of a business Purpose Statement. For me, my primary take away from the book was the Purpose Statement as “an uplifting, moral-quality that appeals to the highest ideals and motives of the organization that rises above personal concern.” The book explains that a business should focus its attention on those it serves (customers, vendors, community, and all stakeholders, not just shareholders).

Most business schools teach the focus should be on the bottom line as a responsibility to shareholders. But Conscious Capitalism makes the case that organizations that put the needs of society before their own, more often than not, deliver on the needs of society, but also produce revenue requirements beyond their stated projections.

As a Christian business owner, I believe this philosophy is in line with my Biblical Purpose to serve others and make Christ known to them. It is not limited to my personal life but extends into my businesses. David Hagenbuch says, “Every business, especially a new one, should have a clear and succinct expression of its purpose — its reason for being beyond the products it makes or the services it provides. A great example comes from Whole Foods, which states its purpose simply as ‘Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet.’” This is perfect since John Mackey is CEO of Whole Foods and co-author of Conscious Capitalism!

As I reflected on this, I looked to the Bible to better understand what God says about our businesses and their purpose. There are many passages that provide uplifting messages for us on this topic. For example, Romans 8:28 (KJV) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. And, Deuteronomy 8:18 (KJV) But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

I believe that God’s intent is that we acknowledge him as the source of all that we are and in our obedience to him, he provides not only what we need but more beyond measure. So, I conclude that our business Purpose Statements should reflect our acknowledgement that we are only stewards of what he provides to us.

Do you have a business Purpose Statement? If not, consider drafting one today.

Business Purpose

We have one daughter, Jennifer and her husband, Chad, who have blessed us with four grandchildren. They have all enjoyed spending time at the ranch even before the inheritance. Since the inheritance, they have become more involved with the projects and enjoying the benefits of their labors.

Dave Ramsey has taught us that as parents it is important to raise our children with love to be self-sufficient, understand financial responsibility and to leave them an inheritance as taught in the Bible . My husband, Larry’s purpose for the ranch was clearly following this principle and I know Jennifer and Chad will someday be the owners of the property and will continue the improvements. I reflected on how Larry’s purpose can easily be the same for entrepreneurs.

I think as Christian businesspeople we fundamentally want to build a business and eventually leave that business a success. But in business when you talk about the business purpose statement, you must be careful. First, a business purpose can be the legal statement required by some states on your business registration documents. This statement is generally vague like “to lawfully sell safe products to the public”.

Second, in marketing your business, you tie your brand to your purpose for selling your products or services and this purpose statement drives your marketing efforts.

Finally, for decades business schools have taught the need for all businesses to have Values, Vision, and Mission statements to guide the business. A purpose statement is new to the scene and is slowing being adopted. So, for our intentions here, a purpose statement is that declaration that identifies your business’ overarching reason for existing. It is the WHY you are in business.

Can you answer the WHY question for your business?

Purpose

A while back, my husband, Larry and I inherited a working cattle ranch with a two-story historic home that had been in his family since 1885. In recent times, both the home and the 200 plus acres of wheat and native grass pastures had been reduced to less than its former proud state. This was simply a result of the former family member’s inability to keep it in good repair due to their age and health.

Larry had known for some time prior to the inheritance that this property would someday be his. He had talked on many occasions about things he would like to be able to do if the property did become his. True to his nature, Larry drew out a master plan of projects he desired to accomplish including cleaning up the land, refencing the pastures and exterior property lines, rebuilding the rundown corral and shed and ultimately remodeling the ranch house.

One of the first things he did was to tear down an old chain-link fence and replaced it with a pipe fence that would keep the cattle from entering the yard around the house. Then he had the “dump” removed. This was an area, close to the house, which had been the place where “everything that no longer had a use” was piled for the past 100 years.

He also made some minor repairs to the house for safety and security reasons. I mention these things because while I was helping him in these tasks, I am one of those kinds of people that really needs to know and understand what the ultimate objective will be for these efforts. When I would ask him, the answer was usually because this task is a security priority because we did not actually live on the property or that the project is necessary for the business of the ranch to continue. He never hesitated and was always confident in his answers and his methods. I love that about him.

But one day, it occurred to me I didn’t really understand his ultimate purpose for all these activities. We had never settled on a decision that would put us living on the property for the rest of our lives and still I was certain he had no plans to ever sell the property. The land was leased for cattle production and hunting revenue and almost all the furniture in the home had been disbursed to family members. So why make all these improvements?

He had mentioned turning the house into a lodge and allowing extended family access periodically throughout the years. That must be his purpose, but I had to know if I had figured it out. I asked him point blank and his response, again with no hesitation, surprised me and at the same time did not. He said his purpose was to leave the property in a better condition than he received it. That response brought such a smile to my heart.

For that project you are working on right now…what is the purpose? Do you have to think about it or do you know, without a shadow of a doubt, why you are doing it?

Mission Statement

So, if the scriptures can show us what Christ’s mission was and what our personal missions are in life, doesn’t it stand to reason that our businesses should mimic our personal missions?

I feel as Christian entrepreneurs it is our duty to do just that. The Mike Patton Auto Family in LaGrange, Georgia provides an example of following that biblical truth. Their Mission Statement reads, “The Mike Patton Auto Family seeks to honor God by impacting the lives of our employees, customers, and community.” Many of our clients at Small Business Spoken Here ask if their Mission Statement should really be their personal Mission Statement? That’s a great question. We might guess from the Patton Auto Family example, theirs probably is the same. We would suggest your business and personal Mission Statement should be aligned, if not the same. If they are not aligned, you are opening yourself up to potential conflicting messages. When that happens, chaos ensues.

To sum it all up, follow your heart in writing a picture filled with passion and colored with the excitement of what you do every day to serve and honor our Lord, Jesus Christ! And be sure to share it with your Accountability Partner.

Ask them to examine your mission and tell you if they feel the passion. Ask them if they can feel and see how this mission statement drives you in serving and honoring Jesus Christ!

God-given Mission

Have you ever thought about a God-given Mission Statement for your business? What does the Bible say about a business mission? I thought it might be interesting to check it out. The Internet has many sources and examples of biblical business Mission Statements.

One possible Mission Statement of Jesus Christ is stated in Matthew 20:28 (KJV), “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Christ spent every day on earth teaching, healing, praying, serving, giving to the individuals he encountered and ultimately gave his life that all mankind might be saved and have eternal life.

That Mission Statement is in the present and packs intense passion. There are no fancy words, no pomp and circumstance, just simply stated. His mission was to serve and die for mankind! In another passage we can discern a Mission Statement for mankind. Mark 12:28-34 (KJV) “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.”

Here is another Mission Statement that packs a punch and demonstrates passion. Man’s Mission, per scripture, is to Love the Lord our God with every ounce of your being and love your neighbors in the same way.

Have you examined your business’s Mission Statement from God’s perspective? Does it deliver a punch and demonstrate passion? Why not?

Mission Role

For Small Business Spoken Here, we define a Mission Statement as the role of the organization in society. It tells what your organization is all about. It is the fundamental drive of the organization and concentrates on the present. While it defines the customer and the critical processes, it also informs you of the desired level of performance. Said another way, the mission explains why the organization exists.

The mission captures your organization’s goals and your overarching philosophies. It also documents what your organization is about to your customers, employees, suppliers, and the community. A mission statement tells you and everyone that encounters your business what you are doing right now!

There is also something else a Mission Statement does, it demonstrates Passion! It is not enough to be in the present. Anyone can write something in the present. That statement must come alive and your passion must resonate through each word. This would seem to be a tall order. After all, this is a business not a work of art.

The truth is our emotions, our passion is what drove us to start the business. So why wouldn’t a Mission Statement reflect that emotional drive? Maybe it is not such a difficult thing to write especially if it comes from the truth we know as our God-given talents and our passion to build that business.

Think about that for a minute. It all begins with God and his gifts to us. Take a moment, right now, and think about your talents and directions from God. List them out as they come to you.

What is this list telling you? Does your business reflect these talents? Does it showcase them to their fullest extent or are you hiding your talents under a basket, as the song goes? Perhaps it is time for a new direction?

Mission

I remember a late spring morning when I had finished my early tasks and had about an hour to spare before my first client meeting. It was such a lovely day, I decided to take a hot cup of tea and the latest book I was reading and enjoy both on the back deck. As I settled into my reading, I became distracted by the sounds coming from the park across the street. I looked up and began observing a group of young preschoolers who were thoroughly engrossed in the business of playground discovery. As I watched them, I couldn’t help myself but smile and wonder what drove their excitement. I noticed that they would run from one piece of equipment to another as if the playthings might disappear suddenly without warning. There was one youngster who would constantly call out to another to come try this or play with that. He was obviously leading the charge to see how many items he could enjoy before his playmates joined him.

Then there was a cheery young girl that couldn’t seem to stop laughing as her mother pushed her on the swing, higher and higher. A bubbly pair of what appeared to me to be twins were racing around the slide, quickly climbing the ladder, and screaming with joy as they slid down the other side. I also observed a quiet toddler content on rocking on the spring-action horse at the edge of the playground. Even as other children would try and coax him to join them in climbing the wall of the fort or running across the swinging bridge, he would simply ignore them, continuing to rock back and forth in a steady rhythm.

It was a delightful sight to see the carefree youth focus on having the time of their lives. As I observed this enjoyable view, it came to me that these children were all moving with a mission. They understood, inherently, that they were there to explore, discover, share, motivate, encourage, and accomplish as much joy, happiness, and love of their situation as possible. They moved with intensity and determination because they also knew their experience would end abruptly when Mom announced, “Time to go!”

When was the last time you came to work with this kind of intensity and determination? What drives you or what hinders your drive for such passion? Isn’t it about time you took time out to get that passion back?

Visioning

As I close on my thoughts about Vision statements, here is a reminder for us all…first, seek God’s will for the organization. Then when you are writing your organization’s Vision statement and to envision the best outcome, consider these three points:

1) Think Long Term by describing outcomes that are five to ten years out;

2) Make It Emotional by dreaming big and focusing on success; fill it with passion;

3) Add Sensory Details by painting a graphic mental picture of the organization you want.

Begin your draft statement and when you think you have it together, take a break from it. Let it resonate for a day or two. Take the extra time to consider running it by your Accountability Partner asking them to comment on whether it resonates with what they understand you are seeking in your business. Ask them if it paints that picture of the future not what you are doing now. And most importantly, continue to seek God’s will and begin to tweak the Vision statement until it is exactly the Vision you have for the organization.

Vision Statement

The Vision statement must be clearly stated. You may have heard this before, and it is still true. If the Vision statement is foggy, vague, ambiguous or something similar, the message will not be understandable. Quite often we over-think and over complicate our Vision statements.

Vision statements need to be clear and concise so that others can grasp the meaning easily when you state it to them. When you do, they can then share it with others in exactly the same way without changing the message you are sending. Nehemiah understood this principle and his vision was clear, “…let us build up the wall of Jerusalem…”(Nehemiah 2:17, KJV). As this message spread through the land, I don’t imagine folks were running around saying, “Hey, there is going to be a picnic on the town square!” I imagine it spread quickly from one to many as “We are building up the wall of Jerusalem!”

Also, notice how specific it is. You don’t see Nehemiah over complicated the obvious with extra words like “and then” or “while we” or “with additional”. Vision statements are clear, concise, specific, and written to be understood by everyone who reads or sees it.

Finally, Vision statements should invoke emotion from those who write them and convey that emotion in all that experience that vision. Nehemiah knew he needed to express in words the perseverance to keep folks building that wall. He also knew he needed to communicate the need to be brave and courageous when things started to get tough. The people Nehemiah was facing were individuals who had lost or forgotten their dreams. He needed great emotion to drive the vision. His words were emotional and painted a picture for all to see, “…and end this disgrace!”(Nehemiah 2:17,NLT).

The emotion of our Vision statements should paint pictures so clearly that we can visualize the future state and will know when we have arrived. The emotion should reinforce the future state and be dependent on working toward the new possibilities. Nehemiah set the bar high.

How does your Vision statement measure up?

Future Vision

If you can get folks to agree that a Vision Statement is “future” focused, you will soon realize there are still a lot of conversations about what it should or should not be. I think one of the best lessons I ever learned about business vision statements originated from a sermon I heard by Joe Boerman, former senior pastor at Immanuel Church in Gurnee, IL. Pastor Joe (as we called him) was doing a series of lessons from the book of Nehemiah. The series was addressing the subject of Leadership, but it was packed full of great insight for amazing vision statements.

Think about it, Nehemiah had the responsibility (called on him by God) to rebuild the walls and gates that had been destroyed around the city of Jerusalem. That was not only a massive responsibility but a huge task especially when you consider that the people of Jerusalem had become comfortable with seeing the crumbled and burned out walls for 80 years.

That is not unlike what we experience in our current lives. For example, how many times do you drive down a road and notice the litter? Do you stop to pick it up or do you continue on your way? Have you ever driven by it day in and day out until it no longer even registers with your brain that there is litter collecting alongside the roadway? Have you ever thought to gather a group of people together and convince them to spend one day a month picking up the litter? How would you convince them that this was a good thing to do? How would you get them to continue doing it month after month after month?

Gathering people together, getting them all on the same page and leading them to do something are the kinds of the things we look at a Vision statement to do for an organization. According to Andy Stanley, a vision should be “a solution to a problem that must be addressed immediately”.

For Nehemiah, it was clear. God ordered the walls and gates to be rebuilt and for it to be done now! So as the leaders of our organizations, we can take a lesson from Nehemiah that it is important to motivate the organization. A vision statement requires a compelling reason to be in existence. Going back to the roadway litter example, would you encourage people to pick up the litter – because it is their civic duty; because litter looks bad; because litter is a poor reflection of the neighborhood; because litter is smelly; because litter is blowing into the roadway and becoming a traffic distraction; or some other reason? Your Vision statement should motivate your organization with the incentive to start.

Think back to when you decided to start your business. What motivated you? What was your incentive to make that very first step? What is it that you are out to accomplish?