I work with small business owners to help them succeed. Whatever their definition of success is, I focus on three key pillars: CLARITY, CONTROL and CHALLENGE.
Ironically, I want to clarify a little more around my approach and these pillars, so this article is focused on the first point, CLARITY, and what that means in practice in a business context.
I break CLARITY down into a few key steps:
- The Business Values
- The Business Vision or “Why”
- The Business Mission or “What”
- The Business Strategy or “How
Once you have these clear in your mind, you are well positioned to develop a robust plan which links to fostering CONTROL, the next stage of encouraging success.
Clarity starts with being honest with yourself and identifying your own values. Whether you are the owner, an external stakeholder or an employee, being involved with a business whose values are at odds with your own can lead to frustration and poor performance from both a personal and business perspective. It is therefore important, and makes business sense, to share your values and understand the values of others before you enter into business relationships or employ staff.
At the end of this article, you will find a suggested exercise to help you identify your values if this is something you need to work on.
The next step is to know your ‘why’ or in business terms, your vision. I honestly believe that you will know when you find your ‘why’ and vision for your business because it will just ‘feel right’. When you talk about it you will feel energised and passionate and this will shine through.
Simon Sinek is the ‘go to’ author and motivational speaker when it comes to your ‘why’ and he has three simple steps you can use to help you find it – these are just as applicable to a business as to an individual – again, you can find these steps at the end of the article.
Values and vision both feed your strategy, how you operate and ‘behave’ as a business.
“A good strategy provides a clear roadmap, consisting of a set of guiding principles or rules, that defines the actions people in the business should take (and not take) and the things they should prioritize (and not prioritize) to achieve desired goals.” (Ref 1)
If you can articulate the right set of guiding principles for your business and use them, then they will help keep your business on the right track and keep it feeling ‘like you’.
Your strategy will influence ‘What’ you do and equally what your goal or mission is will influence your strategy.
How the elements of values, vision, mission and strategy fit together and transition to the CONTROL phase is demonstrated in the diagram below.
If you would like any guidance on gaining business CLARITY, I’d love to talk. Often an external ‘ear’ is all you need to take that step back, gain perspective and see the woods for the trees so to speak. The exercises below will also help you to begin piecing together your values and vision, allowing you to clearly strategise and take positive action to succeed.
A tried and tested method of identifying your values is to start with a list of what is important to you. Plenty examples can be found online to get you started. Select those values that you feel align with you, then begin to narrow them down by importance – maybe your top 12, then your top 6 and finally your top 3.
Sometimes it is easier to identify the values you think you should have rather than really have. You might also want to try asking yourself these questions (Ref. 2):
- Is it truly YOUR value?
- Is it a means or an end?
- Do your actions show your values?
- When were you happiest or most excited?
- What do you regret the most?
- Gather stories and share them – identify at least five stories that you consider to be most impactful in your life/history of the group
- Identify themes – one or two will start to stand out that you recognise as ‘being you’ and will become the foundation of your WHY statement
- Draft and refine a WHY statement
- Demystifying Strategy: The What, Who, How, and Why by Michael D. Watkins September 10, 2007 Harvard Business Review