Have you ever considered what the No. 1 responsibility of every great leader is? Clate Mask, CEO of Infusionsoft, has discovered that the No. 1 responsibility he has as the leader of his company is to have and articulate the "Vision” to all those whom he employs. He says if we aren’t rolling our eyes when he talks about the vision, then he isn’t talking about it enough. This is the biggest and most important responsibility that will help you as a business owner build a company that will last.
Why does having a clear vision matter?
You gain clarity. You have alignment and harmony with employees and with the work. You attract amazing talent to the vision. Your vision can inspire and motivate.
When the vision is clear, it is easier to make decisions within the company. Filtering what you do as a business and what you commit to each and every day becomes easier as you consider your vision in the decision process. If the decision aligns with the purpose, the values, and the mission, then you can invest time, resources, management attention to it; if not, then you don’t waste time working on whatever you were considering.
When the vision isn't clearly defined, resources within the company are scattered with hardly any alignment. Employees aren’t working in the same direction; having a vision unifies the work.
To articulate this further, here at Infusionsoft, we host a two-day workshop called Elite Forum several times throughout the year where we work closely with businesses that have hit the $1 million thresholds to help them grow to $10 million and beyond. At this event, I’ve seen business owners and their top leaders go from spread all over the place in ideas and direction to complete alignment because they uncovered their vision as a company. They leave with clarity and an actual plan for growth. They end up growing united and with the right team members because they are aligned.
If you haven’t articulated your company’s purpose, values, and mission, now is a great time to do the foundational work on this. Start with getting clear on your purpose (your “Why), then create values (your “How”), and then your mission (your “What”).
Here are a few tips to creating this:
Since this is your “why” it’s necessary to get clear on this. Consider these questions: Why do you devote your life to your cause? What impact do you have on the world?
Your purpose is something that should stand the test of time. It will never change. It could last 100 years or more. It could also be the same as someone else's business. A word of caution, it is not marketing for your company, it is the why of what you get excited about. It drives everything you do in your company.
The example I’ll use is Infusionsoft’s purpose: “We Help Small Businesses Succeed.” It’s clear, short (easy to remember), and impactful. It’s a cause people get behind. I can only imagine that if our purpose was to “sell software” we wouldn’t be a 600-plus employee company and have the significant growth we’ve had. “Selling software” isn’t worth devoting your life to. Helping small businesses succeed is.
Some examples of great Purpose statements came from our Elite Forum Attendees:
DC Mosquito Squad: "Connecting people in their outdoor spaces."
Caboodle: "To empower people to anticipate and manage their money matters."
Iron Tribe Fitness: "To create fitness communities that change lives."
The next part of creating your vision is articulating your values. Your values are the “how” you accomplish your why. These values describe what is, not what could be. These values represent your core beliefs. You and your team are already manifesting these daily in the company walk and talk. If your employees don't believe in the values you create, then the job won’t jive and won’t fit well for them. It will become clear that they don’t fit in your vision.
We have nine core values at Infusionsoft, all of which governs the way our company does business and supports our purpose of helping small businesses succeed. For instance, in order to help small businesses succeed, our value, “We empower entrepreneurs,” needs to be ingrained in each employee that works at Infusionsoft. And it isn’t always easy being a part of a company that grows quickly, so our value, “We face challenges with optimism,” is really important for all employees to endure.
A great analogy was given on the role values play within in a company by our Dream Manager, Dan Ralphs. He said, “The purpose of your company is your anchor in the vast ocean and the values are what keep you from drifting too far away from your purpose.” To add to what he said, values are guide rails for your team to make decisions on a regular basis. They bring accountability to operate within the confines of the business, which ultimately allows freedom.
The last part of your vision is the clear articulation of your mission. Since your purpose is your “why” and your values are your “how” your mission is your “what." It articulates what, exactly, you will accomplish in the next three to five years, and it aligns and is in support of your purpose.
Your mission should be both achievable and aspirational. It states what you are going to do and by when. It is best to focus on the next three to five years as you aim to accomplish your “what.” At Infusionsoft, our mission is to create and dominate the market of all-in-one sales and marketing software for small businesses.
In closing, having worked with businesses at $1 million in revenue plus, I have found that as they put together a clear vision and ultimately hire, train, and fire employees to their vision, they begin to really scale up. Once they make their purpose, values, and mission a part of their every day, they will begin to grow in the right direction with the right people on their team.
I know that as you get clear on your vision—no matter what stage your business is in—you will see that you will begin to hire the right people for the job and that your team will become aligned to your vision as the creator and founder of your company.
Stephanie Hitchins comes from a large family with a lineage of entrepreneurs who own and operate multiple, diverse, and successful small businesses. Because of her passion and marketing expertise, she became a Small Business Expert Coach at Infusionsoft where she strategized growth in small businesses using Infusionsoft. In addition to helping hundreds of Infusionsoft clients achieve success and reach their business goals, she has partnered with the Elite Forum team at Infusionsoft and is now heading the sales and marketing growth of Elite.