I love “To-Do” lists and prioritizing activities.
But then again, I'm a dork!
These are often missing in family farm businesses for a variety of reasons. Being too busy farming is often a common response. Project planning tends to be a day-to-day decision on which fire to put out first. A situation characterized by the question, “Is your business running you or are you running your business?”
Last week we began a series of discussions about a Deliberate Communication Platform for your family business. Namely...
"A prearranged and agreed upon way in which information, ideas, opinions and decisions are shared among the various stakeholders in your family business.”
Again....and why did I start that discussion?
Your mission, if you choose to accept...
Let’s begin with a quick review of the foundational elements of your family business management system; its vision statement, mission statement and core values. We explored the reason your family farm exists and your “BIG WHY” with your vision statement that is Simple, Clear and Stimulating (SCS link).
There are two remaining areas to explore and to help you develop the foundation to a long lasting family business and your management system: Mission Statement and Core Values. Let's explore mission statements a little further.
It is essential to understand how you are going to realize your family business purpose and attain your vision. This is the function of your Mission Statement. Many times, mission statements and vision statements are used interchangeably. These are two distinct statements that serve two different requirements for your family farm. The mission statement clarifies and explains what the members of the organization will actually do to achieve the purpose and vision.
Carrying out the mission statement on a consistent basis helps your business achieve the purpose and pursue its vision. I know it might be a little confusing, but your purpose, vision statement and mission statements all build upon each another and point everyone in the same direction. There is a great amount of synergy that results by giving your team a clear sense about the principal role that they play.
If your mission statement fails to describe these elements it can help create ambiguity about the basic purpose of your family business and what you hope to accomplish (vision). Your company’s mission statement will most effective if it is written so your customers understand your purpose and how you provide value to them.
Your mission statement doesn’t have to look the same as everyone else’s. Figure out what’s important to you and your clients and go from there. Here are some examples of clear, concise and simple mission statements:
“At Chateau de Pahrump we grow grapes, make super-premium class wine and provide Northern Michigan hospitality with exemplary service from our one-of-a-kind site on Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula. As good stewards of resources, our goal is to operate a profitable and ethical business that utilizes new technology and provides enjoyable work conditions with opportunities for advancement and personal growth. “
“Our mission is to transform natural resources into high quality livestock for domestic and foreign customers in a way that will provide a fair rate of return to our owners, a safe and satisfying working environment and be capable of providing income for future generations.”
“Our mission is to help connect people who want to sell a business with people who want to buy a business. We provide business owners and brokers with flexible options for listing their business online. For buyers, we offer helpful tools such as our saved listings feature and customized email alerts to make finding the right business easier.”
After you have developed your family farm’s mission statement, you will be ready for the final part of the foundational elements for your family business, core values.
So What Is Your SCS?
Stimulating – Your vision statement must lay out an image for your family business that is exciting, thought-provoking and inspiring. If it can be achieved in a year or two, maybe it’s not so challenging and is really just a target or an objective. Think about Kennedy’s vision of getting a man on the moon. Not just build a rocket or get a rocket to the moon. It was a MAN ON THE MOON! I would bet that was kind of inspiring and motivating for all the people involved in that project. Obviously you may not have the resources for such a grand vision. This exaggerated example was simply to show an extreme example of a clear vision statement.
The communication and establishment of the vision begins with ownership and senior management and travels to all levels of your family farm business to become a regular, top-of-mind concept for your entire organization. Once it becomes engrained, your vision becomes the stimulus for innovation, improvement, ingenuity, resourcefulness, effort and order that might propel your family business and the entire team to accomplish great things. When family farms and family businesses come together around a simple, clear and stimulating vision statement it can make all the difference in almost all areas of your business.
Is it that crystal clear to you, your family, employees, community, vendors, etc. why your business exists? Is everyone on the same page…without hesitation? I didn’t think so. This is foundational stuff and takes a little thought and effort to seriously contemplate.
To help get you started, let’s look at the necessary first component required for developing your compelling vision statement for your family farm business. The reason for your business. Huh? Remember, a well-crafted vision statement serves as a guide to help everyone and anyone to understand what business you are really in beyond just the product or service you provide.
“Enhancing your family’s well-being and the financial health of your business.”
Oh, I like it! Wait. It’s already taken. It’s the purpose for my business advisory services. Ha. It’s pretty clear, short and sweet…don’t you agree?
So, what business are you really in and why does your family business exist? Try not to just rush through this exercise for the sake of checking it off some list of things to do. This is a core element in what will become your vision statement: the foundation upon which your entire family-business operations, policies, decision-making, investments, etc. are all derived from. Once you have clarified, on paper, the core reason for your family business’s existence, you will be ahead of 70% of your industry peers and developing a stronger foundation for your continually successful family business or family farm.
Taking time away from the endless chores and things to do is sometimes difficult, but it might help to understand that this isn’t an exercise in feel-goodliness, warm-fuzzy, feel better inside, mushiness, but rather has real-world, bottom-line, operational and human capital implications that are just plain good for the long-term success of your family business. The development of these various statements are used to:
The downside of not having a vivid picture of the future for your team to visualize often results in team members that are not fully engaged in their work. You’ve seen it. Yeah, Joe is a good guy, doesn’t really do anything wrong, but doesn’t really do anything extra, above and beyond the minimum. Joe may be doing good things on a daily basis, but he is not inspired because he has no passion for pursuing a larger vision that brings out the best in Joe. How can he? It’s not his fault. You as the business leader may not have provided it Joe.
People naturally want to be part of a successful team; a team with a vision of the future for achieving something great. All they simply need is for you to take the time to develop a vision and then share it with them and help point them in the right direction on how they can contribute to pursuing your vision.
So, how do you create a compelling vision that inspires passion in people? The following characteristics can be used as a reference to help point you in the right direction:
As your family business’s leader, when was the last time you reflected on your vision for the future? Do you have one? Is it clear to you? If not, there is no way it can be clear to anyone else. Is it written down? Do you have some work to do? I hope this helps illustrate some compelling reasons you might want to take the time to develop a clear vision statement and some ideas on how to get started. If you would like a worksheet or template to help you develop your own vision statement, please email me for a copy.