Most large businesses have developed mission, vision, and values statements to help guide them and inform stakeholders about the company’s strategic direction. Going through this strategic exercise is a wonderful idea for even the smallest business as well.
A company’s mission statement lists its core purpose and desired impact for employees, customers, owners, and other stakeholders. A vision statement defines what the company wants to be. A values statement describes what the company stands for.
It’s a perfect activity for business owners to answer and remember why they built the business in the first place. It also serves to correct and re-align the trajectory of the business.
Start by asking what impact you want your business to have on the outside world. Here are some mission statement examples that are frequently quoted:
- Harley-Davidson: More than building machines, we stand for the timeless pursuit of adventure. Freedom for the soul.
- Disney: The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.
- Nike: Nike exists to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. Our purpose is to move the world forward through the power of sport – breaking barriers and building community to change the game for all. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.
Notice how each one is short and simple to understand. They focus more on the big-picture benefits they bring to customers and less on how they will get there.
To write your own mission statement, ask yourself what your business’s purpose is and how you will impact your customers’ lives with your products and services.
A vision statement is big, bold, and futuristic. What do you want your company to be?
Here are a few examples:
- Harley-Davidson: Building our legend and leading our industry through innovation, evolution, and emotion
- Deloitte: We aspire to be the Standard of Excellence, the first choice of the most sought-after clients and talent.
- Amazon: Amazon strives to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, Earth’s best employer, and Earth’s safest place to work.
What do you want your company to become? That’s your vision statement.
Values statements are typically a set of adjectives or statements that answer what the company stands for. They can be in the form of leadership principles, core values, or a similar format. These days, they often include values on environmental, social, climate, global, human rights, diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and many other current issues. They can take the form of additional strategic statements on each one of these issues.
Sample values statements can be found in the company’s annual report as well as the About or Company section of their website.
Here are some examples:
- Harley-Davidson Principles:
- Communication – Communicate with purpose, structure, facts and inspiration
- Agility – Accelerate, innovate and thrive in a rapidly changing environment
- Impact – Focus on impact, not process, and be outcome driven
- Simplicity – Pursue the simplest path to achieve each outcome
- Speed – Don’t let perfection get in the way of process and pace
- Culture – Be fair, honest, positive and creative. Strive to win and have fun.
- Courage -Take risks and go against the norm
- Judgment -Think strategically and make informed decisions
- Focus – Focus on a short list of meaningful opportunities that build desirability
- Lean – Maximize impact with limited resources
- Coca-Cola Behaviors We Focus on:
- Merck Values:
- Patients first
- Respect for people
- Ethics and integrity
- Innovation and scientific excellence
Your mission, vision, and values statements will help you communicate the qualities of your business. It can help in hiring to see if a candidate’s individual values align with the core corporate values, and with customer acquisition when prospects see what your company is about. It can also help you remember your roots and why you work so hard every day.
We’d love to hear from you when you write up your mission, vision, and values statements.
Collecting money from customers is a key function in any business, and the more automated this process is, the better. The payment function varies by type of business, but more and more, there are online options available for collecting money over the internet. Here are few tips on what that looks like.
The perfect place to collect money from a customer is your website. Or is it? Actually, it’s not, but wait, let me explain first.
A typical website is not as secure as it needs to be to collect credit card information from customers. You almost always need an additional app for that. But what you can do on the website is add a link (usually behind a button) or an entire webpage (a sales or product page) to your site that seamlessly takes the customer to a secure site – a shopping cart with a payment gateway — to enter credit card details.
So, the only way your website gets involved is that it has the link or button that provides the bridge to the payment site.
The Payment App
The payment system needs to handle three functions:
- A shopping cart task, where the item is priced and added to a basket.
- A checkout page, where billing information and credit card information is collected.
- A behind-the-scenes settlement function, where the money is taken from the customer, held in a merchant account, and then sent to your business.
In the first step, you need shopping cart software to handle the function. Common retail solutions include Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento, to name a few. But these don’t, by themselves, get you paid. They just process the transaction in a secure environment.
The second step requires a payment gateway application. The most common stand-alone gateway is Authorize.net, and you typically would connect this to your shopping cart. The third step is handled by your merchant account, and sometimes, a separate processor is involved too. From your merchant account, which is connected to your gateway, you typically get a reconciliation of the daily settlements that hit your bank account. You would also handle customer complaints and disputes with them.
In recent years, the second and third steps have often been combined into the same vendor. Companies like PayPal, Stripe, and Square act as the gateway, the processor and the merchant account, all in one, which is really nice, and so much more streamlined than a decade earlier.
Some vendors go a step further and combine all three functions into one vendor. PayPal is the quintessential example. Together, WooCommerce and WooCommerce Payments team up to provide an all-in-one solution.
Getting Paid in Service Businesses
A shopping cart is standard for online retail businesses, but what about service businesses? Service businesses that package their services and charge in advance can use a shopping cart just like retail.
If the service business bills their customers after the fact, then the payment setup is connected to invoice distribution instead of a shopping cart. In this case, you would need to find out which solutions work with your specific billing system, or if there is an add-on you can use to extend your billing system’s capabilities. For example, QuickBooks users can sign up for QuickBooks payments, and Xero users can use Stripe.
When the invoice is sent to the customer, it will include a payment link the customer can use to pay. These service business payment solutions are fairly industry-specific; for example, you might have noticed medical and dental offices use different solutions than personal care service businesses.
When you are selecting a payment system for your business, some people simply look at the credit card fees to make a decision. While that’s important, don’t stop there. Here are some final tips on what to look for and look out for:
- Understand exactly what each apps’ capabilities are so that you have all of the pieces of the process fully covered.
- Applying for a merchant account is just like applying for a loan, but the process has been extremely streamlined in the last decade or so.
- Make sure you can get the reports you need, including settlement details, refunds (full and partial) and void processing, failed payments and retries, and dispute resolution, to name a few.
- Put business processes in place to deal with all of the items mentioned above.
- Make sure the app can handle the type of billing you need to do, including cart items, recurring payments, after-the-fact invoicing, sales tax, and shipping parameters.
- Find out how long it is between collection and bank deposit; this can range from 1-6 days.
- Watch for a high failure rate on customer transactions. If this is the case, it could be that the gateway and merchant account are rejecting perfectly good business because the merchant account’s acceptance rules are extremely strict. This can happen with merchant accounts tied directly to banks, and the best thing to do is avoid them and look for a different option.
- Expect any new provider to hold the first few days of transactions for longer than normal. This is a temporary safety measure and should clear up quickly.
Adding an online payment system is smart business and can save a ton of accounting time. Just make sure to choose the best payment system for your specific needs.
Most entrepreneurs would agree that owning a business is an incredible privilege, and they would likely never want to go back to working for someone else. However, we all have our days! And sometimes those rough days can turn into weeks. If we’ve temporarily lost a little bit of our entrepreneurial passion, how can we get that back? Here are some tips.
Reading reviews left by customers about your business can help you see things from your customers’ eyes. If the reviews are positive, they can help you see the impact your business has made on them which can boost your motivation. If the reviews are glowing, then this task alone can fuel your rejuvenation. After all, you have a lot more people you can make a difference with!
If you don’t have reviews, ask for them. The first time you do this, it can be an amazing experience.
Make sure to allocate enough time for personal care. No one can work 24/7 and survive without burning out. Try soothing activities like yoga, meditation, or a spa day if you just need some tranquility. Make it a regular habit, and you’ll be better balanced when you go to work.
If you’ve been skirting by the last few years on incremental or unchallenging goals, it might be time to give yourself a BHAG – big hairy audacious goal – as mentioned in the book Built to Last. This is an ambitious, long-term goal that can help to propel the entire company into a mission to reach it.
If you feel your employees could use some rejuvenation as well, schedule a goal-setting retreat for the entire company. Everyone will come back with renewed energy and a new purpose.
The thing about being an entrepreneur is you never stop learning. New skills are required every time you reach a new level in your business. Changes in technology, science, and government compliance trickle down to small businesses, requiring changes to your business processes on a constant basis.
Take a new class or read a book to learn something that will improve your business. You’ll be full of ideas that you can implement to make your business better.
We all have tasks in our businesses that we love to do and tasks that we do not love to do. If you’re doing too many of the “don’t love” tasks and not enough of the “love this task,” this can take a toll on your attitude. If you have staff, delegate the things you don’t love – and find staff that really love to do them. That way, you can focus more on the good stuff for yourself.
Is there a project that you’d love to do but has been on the back burner forever? Making it a priority may just be the reset button you need. Sometimes things that are urgent get done while things that are important but not urgent have to wait. Change the priority of those projects that are important and you will feel lighter.
Last but not least, maybe you just need to get away for a while, then come back with a new perspective. For that, a good old-fashioned vacation, complete with air fares and hotel rooms, is the ticket.
If you’ve been working hard lately and it’s been grinding you down, try one of these tips to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate your passion for your business.
There’s more to being financially resilient than simply saving enough money for a rainy day. A part of being financially responsible is maintaining good financial records – and making sure people who need access to your records know where to find them if something happens to you. Here are some ideas for your consideration.
Communicating your goals
Too many families spend little to no time talking about money, and this habit lowers the financial literacy of everyone in the household. Do you know what goals each of your family members have around money?
Talking about money – more than what bill is due when – will strengthen everyone’s financial resilience in your family. You may want to set family goals as well as encourage everyone to set individual financial goals. This may or may not include preparing a budget and agreeing on plans, including a savings plan, a debt reduction plan, and others.
Systems and lists
Do you use an accounting system to store your financial records? Or do you have Excel worksheets? Is it clear where they are located on your computer? Do your loved ones know how to find these items if something happens to you?
Now that so many things are digitized, it’s not as easy as it has been in the past. You can’t just label a filing cabinet drawer and say “everything is in here that you need.” Your financial records might be in a hundred different places on your computer. Being organized and planning for a smooth financial future for your loved ones means making a list of instructions on how to access all of your financially-related digital assets.
Your list might include:
- URL, login, and password to your accounting systems.
- List of bank, brokerage, and retirement accounts and their login information.
- List of credit card accounts and their login information.
- List of government-related accounts, such as social security and irs.gov, and their login information.
- List of regular monthly bills, such as utility, credit cards, and rent, and their login information.
- Details of regular monthly income received.
- Where to find financial files on your computer, such as tax returns, bank statements, and real estate closing documents, just to mention a few, and how to access them.
And that’s just a start. You may not want to share your passwords with certain family members. If this is the case, you can still record your instructions and store them away for safekeeping, providing access information later.
If your computer crashes, will you be able to recover your financial files? Taking periodic backups will prevent a loss of records.
What to keep in case of an audit
You hope it will never happen, but if it does, are you prepared for an audit with the IRS or a state agency? Do you know what records to keep and for how many years?
Having good documentation, sharing financial knowledge and goals, and making a backup plan will boost your financial confidence. You will be more prepared than most households when it comes to financial safety.
How financially resilient do you feel? Taking into consideration the above ideas will help you stay one step ahead.
The past few years have seen major kinks in the supply chain due to a number of reasons: aberrant buyer behavior, source material scarcity, government shutdowns, and worker shortages, to name a few. What can a business owner do to protect their businesses from shortages and therefore, revenue loss? Let’s take a look at a few ideas.
Source New Suppliers
Being dependent on only one supplier for a key item is risky. Increase your options by finding new suppliers to use as backups or alternates whenever you can. While it’s admirable to buy local, it’s not always possible. Expanding your network will provide you with a lot more flexibility, even if you have to pay a bit extra at times.
Understand Your Timeline
How accurate is your prediction of lead time? Are you providing enough time from ordering and delivery before you need the part in house? Timelines have changed a lot in the last year. Spend some time reviewing and recalculating lead time if you need to.
Get good at forecasting so that you can anticipate and prevent inventory shortages before they occur. We can help you set up the correct spreadsheets and generate the right reports so you’ll have better information for decision-making in this area of your business.
The more dependent your business is on a particular supplier, the more you want to develop that relationship. Adding that personal touch might not help you get your orders faster, but when troubleshooting is needed, you’ll want the extra help a personal relationship can provide.
Increase Communication and Collaboration
Increase communication with your suppliers so they can manage their own timelines and supply chains better. Provide them with accurate forecasts and let them know how they can better meet your needs in the present and in the future.
Audit Inventory Records Frequently
If your inventory balances are only adjusted once a year, inaccurate inventory numbers are likely to cause problems. Find ways to take inventory more often, or at least increase the accuracy of inventory balances. The savings will be worth it; you’ll have fewer surprise out-of-stock or back-order situations that can cost not only sales but also customer loyalty.
Proactively Manage Shipping
There may be times when paying rush charges on shipping is justified simply to get the parts in house. Actively managing shipping and in-transit items will help you keep a handle on this. When possible, line up alternate shipping methods in case one method becomes unreliable. This is especially advised with overseas shipments where more can go wrong.
Create a Supply Chain Task Force
If supply chain issues are critical in your business and have been costing you profits, it might be time to create a dedicated team to manage and prevent crises. Consider putting together a group of employees that can be responsible for strengthening your supply chain.
Try these ideas to smooth out supply chain woes in your business.