The last several weeks we spent some time exploring some foundational components of your family business management system and developing some clarity around the future of your family farm. Specifically, we explored the What, Why and How of your business by defining the purpose of your family business, a vision statement, a mission statement and a statement of core values or philosophy of operations statement.
Statement of Core Values or
The final component of developing the foundations of the management system for your family business surrounds the beliefs and behaviors that you intend to follow or keep sacred in managing your family farm business. Specifically, a Statement of Core Values or Philosophy of Operations Statement.
In order for your family business to ascend towards its vision, core values must be clearly identified and communicated. A well-developed Statement of Core Values will make it clear to the reader and your team whether your future plans for growth are reserved and conservative or aggressive, whether your priorities are based on the “here and now” or whether you value “the long term”. Your Statement of Core Values also answers the question or how members of your family business should behave toward one another and your customers and vendors.
Your mission, if you choose to accept...
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.
"Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission."
From a nuts and bolts standpoint, your mission statement is a clear and concise declaration about your business strategy that describes:
(a) the key products or services to be provided (the what),
(b) the target market or primary customer (the who),
(c) the primary business objective to be accomplished (the how) and,
(d) what value your are bringing.
Additionally, and possibly most importantly, your mission statement ought to be the daily driver of action for your team and as such, it provides a “check and balance” for every goal, strategy and action plan that is undertaken. If a business activity or decision conflicts with the mission statement, either the activity or decision is misguided or the mission statement is incorrect.
"If you have a family mission statement that clarifies what your purpose is, then you use that as the criterion by which you make the decisions."
“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?
You spent some time thinking about thereal reason, or purpose, for your family farm or family business. Let’s get cracking on the actual vision statement for your family business.
Your big goal in this process is to create a vision statement that will have real meaning to people…especially your current and future team members…about the future direction of your family farm business. From a simple, clear, brief vision statement your team members should be able to understand where the business is going and how they fit in.
A meaningful vision statement has the following features:
Simple - Your vision statement does not need to be long. Think about Disney; “To Make People Happy.”. Fairly simple, eh? Your challenge is to say a lot with a select few words.
Clear – The ideal vision statement for your family business ought to be so clear and unambiguous that a total stranger can read it and know exactly what it means – An instant understanding of where you want your business to be in the future and what kind of affect you are trying to have in the world.
“To the person who does not know where he wants to go there is no favorable wind.”
Lastly this week, developing, sharing and communicating your family business vision statement is paramount. Laying the foundation for an effective team beginning with your vision statement requires that it be rooted in your family business culture with regular communication – maybe even excessive communication.
So we talked about “Vision” last week and further explored the notion that your vision statement should answer the question, "Where do I see my business going in the future?”….what is the ultimate state of our family business in the future?
Before we further examine and put down on paper where your family business is going, let’s take a slight detour and first answer the reason why your family business exists in the first place. You need to know why you exist before you can determine where you are going. Does that make sense? I hope so.
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.
The legendary Walt Disney certainly knew the reason for his theme parks when he began and developed a vision statement: “To make people happy”. All theme-park operations, people and training are with this idea of bringing happiness to millions of people around the world.
While the Walt Disney theme-park vision is short, it indeed let’s everyone know the reason this business exists. When you work on creating your vision statement, start with a quick, simple, clear reason for the existence of your family business. It does not have to be a lengthy and sophisticated statement that sounds all Madison Avenue. Quite the contrary. If you cannot do it in a relatively short statement, say 11-22 words, you’re doing it wrong. Ha. Think about the basics…the core meaning of your family business. What do you think of this statement of purpose?
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.
While it may sometimes seem a total waste of time, inconvenient, non-productive, fluff, or any other words you might use to characterize activities that don’t produce immediate results, developing statements of vision, mission, core values, philosophies, key beliefs, etc. is like planting an acorn seed.
Unlike annual seeds that can seemingly pop out of the ground overnight, it can take quite a long time for that acorn seed to sprout…and it will certainly take many years before it becomes the mighty oak….something hard, something strong and something durable that can last many generations.
"To be the preferred value-added fruit company known for its quality products, great people and superior performance. "
“To be the number one athletic company in the world”
Let’s begin with your vision statement. As the image above describes, “A vision is an imagined idea or goal toward which one aspires.” In the context of your business setting, it is a description of the preferred future state of your business. It is forward looking and describes the big reason WHY your business exists. It describes the ultimate state what will exist when all goals and objectives are being accomplished on a consistent basis. It’s not a slogan or catch phrase like, “Just Do It”. It should highlight how you want others to describe your business.
An important note; A vision statement is often confused with a mission statement, or sometimes they are used interchangeably and that is a mistake. A mission statement answers the question, "Who you are, what you do, what you value and what makes you unique?" while a vision statement answers the question, "Where do I see my business going?" A vision statement doesn’t need to be a lengthy narrative, but it must contain some key aspects, but first…
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:
"A personal computer in every home running Microsoft software."
"One company growing by nourishing lives and finding a better way today … one bite at a time."
Perhaps the most important task when setting your goals for your farm is to prioritize those goals that have been agreed upon by you and your family. Of course, this can be a challenging task. In reality, most farm succession and business plans will have a hard time trying to satisfy all goals. That is what is called “compromise”. You might be married. You get it.
- Which goals are most important for immediate family well-being, current business success, and/or retirement success in the future?
- Which short-term goals, if attained, would help you achieve your long-term goals?
- Which short-term goals conflict with or impede your long-term goals?
- Which goals are sooooo important that they should be attained even if it prevents you from reaching other goals? For example, if a goal is to provide a secure retirement, that might conflict with bringing in and having the business support three additional families
"Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new 'normal' any way we want."
After working through these questions, each of your team member’s should list their top three to five goals in order of priority. Then, compare notes. Are there differences? This is where compromise and discussion will come into play once again.
BEWARE! It is common to have some disagreements (Well…duh Jim!). As the business leader, your role is to help lead the team toward gaining mutual agreement and commitment on something as simple as the top five priorities for your business. If that cannot be accomplished, you and your business will likely face serious challenges in meeting ANY of its goals.
When all team members of your business know and understand the top goals for your business, and everyone is working in unison towards those goals – Oh baby. Look out and have fun!
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