AT THE CROSSROADS OF YOUR BRAND AND BUSINESS STRATEGY
If you’ve been hanging around the entrepreneurial block for a while, you’ve likely come across the terms Mission & Vision a few times by now. Coaches, consultants, marketers, and corporations all throw the terms around like everyone uses the same standard definition, knows exactly what they mean, and understands why businesses need them. But in my own experience, many entrepreneurs aren’t 100% sure what exactly the deal is when it comes to their mission and vision, much less how to put either into words to form a powerful statement.
So when my friend and fellow Canadian-entrepreneur-in-Munich Mélody Roussy-Parent approached me with the idea of collaborating blog posts on the topic of Missions & Visions, I was more than onboard. Mélody is the founder of RethinkPath and is a business strategist who specializes in helping companies uncover and harness their internal creativity. Her clients are mainly SMEs in the agriculture, environment and artificial intelligence industries who come to her for help with problem-solving or developing international expansion strategies.
Mélody approached our topic from a business strategy perspective, and I of course came at it from a branding perspective and the deeper we dove into it, the more we confirmed that your mission & vision is at the very core of your business foundation.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MISSION AND A VISION
Before we dive in, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page here:
Your mission is a short statement about the fundamental reason your business exists. It explains who you are, your philosophy and/or goals. Don’t confuse this with your positioning statement, which is more about your USP and what your clients can expect from you.
Your vision is your long-term aspiration, the driving element that sets the direction of your business. It’s not necessarily directly related to your business’ mission; it might not even be something you can achieve single-handedly. My own vision is to change the way the world does business in the long term: to change the focus from profit maximization to sustainability in all senses of the word.
THE FOUNDATION OF A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS
As Mélody and I began our interview, we were quickly in agreement that one of the foundations of a successful business was crystal clarity around what exactly your business is, what you do, and how you do it. I loved that Mélody’s perspective on this topic picks up right where the branding process ends, filling it with the realities of business life and basically putting a business and brand’s foundation to the test. Here’s her take on it.
Mélody, how important is it for your clients to have a clear mission? What role does the mission play in your work with them?
I help my clients to either develop creative solutions internally or to create and implement internationalization strategies. In both cases, the mission is what steers my approach. For example, when I am helping a client take their first steps outside of their home market, one of the first questions we work on is how to apply their mission in that new target country. It’s so important to take into consideration that your or your company’s mission and vision are also formed by the market you operate in, and when you change that market you also have to question how your mission and vision will translate.
Expanding your business to a new country can also be very destabilizing; a strong mission and vision are necessary to help you stay your course. Sometimes, as a business adapts to a new country, we discover new opportunities or unexpected markets, but taking actions that aren’t in line with the business’ mission can throw your whole business off! A strong mission and vision is a guideline that keeps you focused on moving in the right direction.
Wow! How interesting! So a strong mission and vision are at the very heart of your work. How do you make sure there is a solid foundation for you to work with and what do you do when there are missing links?
I always start by asking questions. Expansion just for expansion’s sake is rarely a good idea and I can tell pretty quickly if an entrepreneur isn’t ready for it there is no strong link between their plans and their vision. I think as entrepreneurs, we tend to develop new ideas quickly and easily, but it’s worth taking the time to write out the vision that guides you and your business. It will help keep you on track and make the right decisions to really move your business in the direction of that vision!
My advice to entrepreneurs is to create a concise mission and vision statements that not only guide their businesses in the long term but also give their clients something to identify with. You want your mission statement to tell them what they can expect from your company, and your vision statement to build a connection on a deeper level. Your clients need to understand what and why they are buying from you! On the flip side, your employees also need to stand behind it, embody it, and deliver what your mission and vision promise.
Coming from the business strategy side, how do you approach the mission and vision question? How do you peel back the layers of the onion, so to speak?
I start right at the source, at the very beginning of the founding of a company. I want to know who, why and how a business was started. I need to understand the story and anecdotes behind the business , but also its founders. Then I ask about the short and long term goals – for the business but also for the founders. Because entrepreneurs tend to be action-takers who are always ready for ‘the next opportunity’, they often lack a strategy for the medium or long term. For me, it’s so important to understand the person or people behind the business in order to put together a strategy that really fits to them.
“For me, it’s so important to understand the person or people behind the business in order to put together a strategy that really fits to them.”
– Mélody Roussy-Parent
I 100% agree with what you’re saying. My approach in branding is not that different from yours, and I think it’s so important to make sure that you respect the entrepreneur’s personality when creating a brand or the business strategy because otherwise the chances of long-term success decrease.
Do you have a recommendation for an entrepreneur who wants to create a strong mission and vision for themselves?
Start by asking yourself:
What resources and talents do I have?
What needs am I serving or satisfying?
How should my business function? (for example: am I acting alone do I need a big team; how will I serve my clients or customers?)
In addition to that, I’d like to stress the importance of writing it down and fine-tuning it. Distill it down to something short, precise and easy for anyone to understand.
What is your mission as an entrepreneur?
I want to make life simple for other entrepreneurs!
I want to help them navigate the jungle of expanding their business and successfully adapting it to a new culture. I also want working with me to be easy and fruitful.
Mélody, you and I are both double entrepreneurs with a service-based business on the one hand, and a product-based business on the other. To finish up I’d love for you to tell me about your ‘other’ business – Mélody’s Canada.
With Mélody’s Canada, I import Canadian products to Germany and my goal is to make my how country known in the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). But I do it on my terms, my way. I am not a souvenir shop, but rather I want to showcase the very best of what my home country has to offer!
Thanks, Mélody for sharing your expert knowledge with me and shining a light on the importance of a strong mission and vision beyond the brand!
Psst: You can read the flip side of this interview (the importance of a clear mission and vision from a branding perspective) on Mélody’s Blog here!
At the time of my interview with Mélody, the Coronavirus and Covid-19 still had daily life in Europe locked down, and the topic of mission and vision felt somewhat removed from our priorities as the world’s businesses shifted into survival mode. At the same time though, it felt extremely present and relevant.
One of the points we just kept coming back to, is that without a strong mission and a clear vision it is virtually impossible to build a solid, and more importantly loyal, client base.
As business owners and entrepreneurs we are all being put to the test right now; a clear mission will help guide us in our decision-making process and also help us navigate these unprecedented times.
Mélody and I want to make sure you have all the support you need to create a clear brand with a strong mission and vision that will create your foundation your long-term business success. The best place to start is with some of our free resources or a free consultation call.
Find out more about Mélody or book a free consultation call with her here: