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Business Planning – Writing A Mission Statement and Guiding Principles

Business Planning – Writing A Mission Statement and Guiding Principles

mission-statementWriting a Mission Statement and Guiding Principles is an important part of business planning. This step really can give you guidance as you’re making day to day decisions and deciding what projects to commit to. The key to ending up with something that makes an impact on your business is asking just a few questions, and taking a few steps. Keep it simple, and be decisive.

A Mission Statement answers the following questions.

  • What do we do?
  • How do we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Guiding Principles are the values or beliefs that guide how you decide things.

These are the “do the right thing” guides that people can look to when things are getting a little “grey”. How do we interact with each other and with our clients. Preferred Insurance Center’s guiding principles are:

  • We are joyfully grateful for all our blessings.
  • We are faithfully enthusiastic about our future.
  • We are selflessly making a difference for our teammates and clients.
  • We are growth focused to make a difference for more.

Steps to bringing it all together

  • Step 1: Gather some information from the participants and summarize it.
    • Ask everyone to write answers to the four questions a Mission Statement is supposed to answer.
      • What do we do?
      • How do we do it?
      • Whom do we do it for?
      • What value are we bringing?
    • For guiding principles ask people the following
      • What values are most important to you?
      • How will you interact with your stakeholders (think about customers, employees, vendors, the communities you work in and with, and shareholders)?
      • How can you balance your values with financial goals and common sense?
      • What are you NOT willing to do to make this business successful?
    • Take their written responses and summarize them. Some will be very similar so make sure you keep track how many times a similar statement is made. The statements made the most are likely to end up in that final Mission Statement.
  • Step 2: Give everyone a chance to write a Mission Statement and suggest guiding principles
    • You won’t get a response from everyone but you will get about as much variety as you have people helping you.
    • Tell everyone there is a deadline and don’t give it too much time. The longer till the deadline, the fewer responses you will get.
    • Share all the submission with everyone and plan a meeting a few days.
  • Step 3: Sit down with everyone in the room and try to come up with a consensus.
  • Step 4: Wait a few days so everyone can think it over and make a decision. If you are struggling with this, follow the decision process you decided on during the Decide Who Gets To Decide & How phase at the beginning of this process.

This should get you to a pretty good Mission Statement and set of Guiding Principles. Of course you can also google some mission statements of companies you admire to get some ideas. In the end, you can make this take forever, or you can make some decisions and move forward. I personally prefer action.

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Business Planning – Decide Who Gets To Decide & How

Business Planning – Decide Who Gets To Decide & How

LeadershipMake up your mind who gets to have input, and who gets to decide.

It may sound simple, but it isn’t often. In some organizations they vote on everything. That isn’t leadership at all, that is a recipe for disaster. We are talking about writing plans and statements that define what your organization will become. It requires vision, leadership, and accountability. If you want a statement about what you are now, then involve everyone and vote on everything. You may need that actually to decide how much you need to change. But when it comes to planning, it is time to lead.

Who gets to decide? – Include people who either have ownership, or directly report to people who have ownership. Choose people who will be there long enough to feel the ramifications of the plan and make sure they are people who will actually feel the ramifications. Respected, retired founders are good for guidance, but they don’t get to make decisions.  Choose people who believe that change is not just inevitable, but desirable…if you don’t you won’t get change.

Who gets to have input? – Now this is entirely different. I think the paragraph above makes this pretty clear. You can ask for ideas from anyone you want. A lot of ideas is usually good. But even if you get input from someone, you are NOT obligated to use it, like it, or even respect it. You need to be a filter, not a sponge. Don’t throw something out just because it makes you uncomfortable, but don’t include it just because it makes you feel good. Be open-minded, but not ridiculous. Consider who gave you the input. If you are not a good filter, then be very careful who you solicit input from.

How is the decision made? – If your organization is truly yours, and only yours, than you need to be fully responsible in the end. If it isn’t, you need a different plan. Consensus among leaders (voting by stakeholders for example) can be very good if they are truly the people you decided get to decide. You still will likely need to decide what is considered a decision (66% of the vote?) and what has no consensus.  What happens when there is no consensus? Nothing (I hate that choice)?

Now just make a decision on how to decide so you can make more decisions better and faster going forward.

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Business Planning – How To Write A Culture Statement

Business Planning – How To Write A Culture Statement

Group Sky SmallBusiness planning needs to start somewhere, and I think it should start with writing a culture description.  I debated between writing a Mission Statement or a Culture Statement. I chose to start with the Culture Statement because it is a statement about “who” your business is, or perhaps “who” you want your business to be. A Mission Statement is about “what” your business wants to accomplish. I simply decided that in business, as in life, “who” trumps “what” almost every time.

Webster’s definition of culture: “The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.”  You and your team are going to spend a lot of time in this business, don’t let the culture be an accident. Why would you allow something so vital  as your attitudes, values, goals and practices “just happen”?

Why does a culture statement need to be written? My experience is that we are all a bit unstable, are not the clearest communicators, and suffer from short term amnesia. That means if we have an idea or goal in our mind only, that idea or goal is going to change based on our mood, circumstances and how well we remember our previous thoughts. Perhaps even more important than remembering our previous thoughts is remembering why we thought them. On the other hand, when we put something in writing we end up making it organized and more clear. The written statement also holds us accountable to it and makes us think before we change it. Lastly, we can simply hand the people we work with the statement and we are all at least reading from the “same page”.

So lets get started!

Going forward from here is rather simple. Choose each part of the definition and explain what you want your organization to be. The hard part is being clear enough. Be so descriptive that you can “see” your business functioning and your team interacting. Make it alive, almost like a painting. I’ve seen people actually give examples or tell stories, and that is very effective. This is not the place for an intellectual business format complete with white shirts and perfect ties under 3 piece suits. No, this is what happens at the water cooler, or in the breakroom, or at the bar the team goes to after work.

  • Attitude is NOT everything – but it is the Difference Maker. There is a very short book by John Maxwell called Attitude 101. It is GREAT and everyone should read it…in the third grade and every year thereafter. Make it clear what is a great attitude, and what is an unacceptable attitude.
  • Your Values Define You – define them now. You can’t assume your organization will have the values you have. As a matter of fact, if you don’t write them down, you likely aren’t really sure what your values are.
  • Goals – You can’t keep your eye on the ball if you don’t know what “the ball” is. These can change over time, unless you make this your Mission Statement. Some people think that is redundant, and a mission is different than a goal, but either will work here.
  • Practices – Define How Things Get Done – define them carefully. This is the “how” of your organization and these will need to change over time. Processes change with technology, regulation, and goals. Try to keep them “high level”, but I don’t think they can be effective if they are so high level that they don’t need to be changed.

The Preferred Insurance Center Culture Statement

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Preferred Insurance Center – Our Culture

Preferred Insurance Center – Our Culture

Group Sky Small

Webster’s definition of culture: “The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.”

Our Attitudes

  • We Are Tiggers Not Eeyores!   Tiggers are excited and happy.  They have bad days and bad times but they make the best of it. Tiggers bring life and spark and smiles and energy into the room. Tiggers are fun to be around.  We attract clients, coworkers, networkers and friends because we have a great attitude. Eeyores see the problems not the solutions. They suck the life and energy out of a room. They complain without offering a suggestion for an improvement. The world is always picking on them. They are annoyed by Tiggers.
  • We Are Grateful!  We have been blessed by God and are thankful for it.  To complain about our lives, our jobs, or our situations is a slap in the face of God.  We live in a wonderful part of a wonderful country.  We are free and we are thankful for it. We work with incredible people for a great purpose.
  • We Are Charitable!  We have been given a lot, we will give a lot.  This is not some small thing we do to look good.  This is a major reason we show up to work.
  • Whatever it takes, not “That’s not my job.”  “The difficult we do right away, the impossible takes a little longer.”  We have a “can do” attitude, not a “can’t do” attitude.  We help each other, we help our clients, and we help our communities. Telling a co-worker “That’s not my job” will likely get you fired.
  • A ringing phone is when the fun begins.  If we believe we are here to help and to serve and to sell, then we have to want the phone to ring.  We are Tiggers with energy and our voice and attitude and energy alone will make most people’s day  better.  So when the phone rings it isn’t a problem, an interruption, or a hassle.  It is our chance to put a smile on another person’s face.
  • Change is life.  If we aren’t growing, we’re withering.  If it’s broke, fix it.  If it’s not broke, improve it.
  • Sales are a wonderful thing.  Nothing happens till something gets sold.  Without a sale, we don’t buy “stuff” and the economy fails. When we make a sale another client becomes properly protected by the right agency. Every call is either a sales call, or the setup for a sales call.
Our Values
  • Honesty, with our clients, our companies, each other, and ourselves.
  • We put others ahead of ourselves.  Do what is best for your coworkers, clients and companies.  We are almost always the best agency for any client to be with.  It is extremely unlikely than any other agent cares about them as much as we do or has the attitude and culture we have.  What is best for the client is proper coverage at a great value.  If we don’t sell someone some type of insurance that they would benefit from, we have not done what is best for them.
  • We give more than we are paid for.  We are paid for insurance but we give back by being charitable, serving others, smiling, bringing joy and happiness to others.  We help local businesses and consumers through discounts, local networks, and referrals.
  • We will make a difference for local charities and individuals by giving of our time and resources.
  • We will proactively serve our clients in ways no other agency can even imagine, more less actually put into practice.
  • We will use the best sales and marketing techniques, while strictly adhering to the attitudes and values above.
  • We will grow rapidly so we can employ more people, and serve more communities with our unique upbeat and charitable attitude.
  • We will be the right people with the right processes and the right attitude to make the lives of everyone we come in contact with much better.
What Is The Best Thing About Preferred Insurance Center? 
It’s the attitude of the people who work here.  When you call or walk in our office you will feel the energy, the warmth, the can-do spirit.  When you have a problem we will go to bat for you.  We will brighten your day and lighten your load.  We are looking for a way to do more, not do less.  We are so energetic you can feel it in the air, like it is electrified.  We are a daily celebration of life.  We know we have been blessed and will use our energy, abilities, and profits to give back to those less fortunate than ourselves and those who have helped us so much over the years.