Lesson 5: Find Your True North


In these early stages of finding your true north, determining the values of your operation is hugely beneficial. Values are the fundamental beliefs of an organization, the guiding principles that dictate how its people should behave and act. Although at this stage you are more than likely going it alone, the time will come when you will need to employ a team.

Think about the reaction to a tense situation that you and or your team might face in the future. Do you let your team figure it out on their own? Do you praise someone for smart improvisation? Or do you act in a way that makes people at your company nervous about making mistakes?

When everyone knows what the company stands for, they’ll know how to act in these moments. Those moments are the ones that keep customers and ensure that your team is living authentic, reinforced core values. Here are some examples of values and their descriptions (note that the tone and length can differ according to the brand):

Red & Yellow’s Values

Over the Rainbow’s Values

Remember, core values are not just buzzwords on a list that you share. They actually represent your company’s core beliefs. You don’t want people on your team if they can’t get behind your mission and your values.

How do you decide on your values? Start brainstorming. Google is your friend. What values are important to your company? What traits do you want your employees to embrace? What core set of beliefs do you want your customers to know you hold dear? In a nutshell, values describe your desired culture. As Coca-Cola puts it, they serve as a behavioral compass. Coke’s values include having the courage to shape a better future, leveraging collective genius, being real, and being accountable and committed.

Doing business with purpose: Mission and vision statements

Businesses that succeed are ones that stay true to their core values and employees so that customers are proud to be associated with them. Together with identifying values that you and your team can align with, you will also need a business mission and vision. Choosing the right words can send a positive ripple throughout your organization and promote loyalty from your team and from your customers.

mission statement is your business purpose or DOING piece. It states who you serve, what you serve them, and how you do it every single day. Drafting your business mission in relation to your vision will help you and your future team stay focused on the activities of today that promote your dreams of tomorrow.

The vision statement is the DREAMING piece. If everything goes right, this is how your organization will have changed the world. It describes where your company aspires to be in the future and should be bursting at the seams with possibility.

These two statements are often combined to clearly define the organization’s reason for existing. Remember: The mission is what you do today to achieve your vision for the future.

Forming a mission statement

Forming a mission statement (Source)

Examples of mission statements:

Microsoft’s Mission Statement (Source)

Starbucks Mission Statement (Source)

Facebook Mission Statement (Source)

Sony’s mission statement: To be a company that inspires and fulfills your curiosity (Source)

Uber’s Mission Statement: Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers (Source)

Examples of vision statements

Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.

Microsoft: Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Oxfam: A just world without poverty.

Disney: To make people happy.

How mission and vision work together:

Setting goals

Good organizations should always be trying to improve, grow, and become more profitable. Setting goals provides the clearest way to measure the success of the company. When you are looking at your company from a three- or five-year perspective, you are looking beyond the day-to-day running of your business and instead taking a much more macro view, which allows you to see the company from a competitive, business perspective.

Setting goals ensures that everyone understands what the prize is and what they are working towards, eliminating any uncertainty about why the company exists. Even though we all know we need goals, though, most people don’t set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based) goals to work towards.

  • Specific: This is where you will give details about what you’re aiming for. These goals should include answers to ‘Who?’, ‘What?’, ‘Where?’, ‘When?’ and ‘Why? For example, “I would like to grow the sales and revenue of my business by 15%.”
  • Measurable: How will you know when you’ve succeeded and what will you use to measure the progress you’ve made? For example, “I will know I’ve reached my goal when I have completed a new website.”
  • Attainable: Your goals should be ones that you could realistically achieve. Are there additional skills or resources you will need to learn or acquire?
  • Realistic: Make sure you can reach your goals without becoming a workaholic or a nightmare for your employees. Written statements such as “I can achieve my goal by hiring a new employee” can be an effective motivator. This R sometimes also means “relevant” – goals that make sense for your specific business.
  • Time bound: Put a deadline on your goal to help you track your progress. This stopping point ensures your success can be measured over a period of time.

SMART goals are important (Source)

And a SMART goal does all of this in a single sentence! Here are some examples:

  • Increase footfall to the physical store by 1,200 people per week within the next four months.
  • Increase visitors to the website by 20% by the end of August.
  • Be ranked first on a Google search engine results page for three relevant search terms within six months.

Look at the three objectives above – can you identify each element of SMART?

We can’t predict the future, but we can certainly plan for it

In What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School, Mark McCormack speaks about a study conducted on students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program. Students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” 

  • Only 3% of the graduates had written goals and plans
  • 13% had goals, but they were not in writing
  • 84% had no specific goals at all.

Ten years later, the members of the class were interviewed again. The findings, while somewhat predictable, were nonetheless astonishing.

The 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% who had no goals at all. And what about the 3% who had clear written goals? They were earning, on average, 10 times as much as the other 97% put together!

Staying focused

Staying focused is essential. You can’t catch two rabbits! Fix your vision on the most important components of your business. Just like a car dashboard reports car performance elements such as fuel consumption, oil level and speed, you – as the business leader – will monitor your “daily dashboard” by focusing on these essentials:

Customers – they are the lifeblood of a company. They provide revenue, and we should be constantly aware of how they feel about our:

  • Products
  • Pricing
  • Service
  • Support
  • Warranties
  • Overall buying experience.
  • Solutions – we should be driven to satisfy our customers and keep them happily buying. To this end we need to design and build products that constantly surprise and delight.
  • Money – we need to watch revenues, margins, expenses and profits, and know how much money we have in the bank each day and which bills need to be paid and when.
  • People – spend a portion of your day visiting valued workers to learn if they are engaged, well trained, customer focused and results driven. Recognize employees who excel and help those that need improvement.

Visualization: The Vision Board

One of the most powerful mind exercises you can do is visualization. This method has been tried and tested; we know that it works. Olympic athletes have been using it for decades to improve their performance. A great, simple way to use visualization is to create a vision board. Your vision board will help you identify what you want to show up in your life and give you clarity.

Creating your board

You’ll need:

  • Any kind of board/paper, or you could use a mirror
  • Scissors, tape, pins, and/or a glue-stick to put your board together
  • Magazines that you can cut images and quotes from
  • Most importantly, the things you want to look at every day: photos, quotes, sayings and images of places you want to go, reminders of events, places, or people, postcards from friends, and just about anything that will inspire you
  • Give yourself a stress-free hour to put your board together.

Example of a vision board (Source)

Put your board somewhere where you can see it every day. This will reinforce your goals and help to keep you focused on the things you really want in your life. Now it’s up to you to take action on those goals. Remember, clear, written goals help you on your road to success!

Why does it work?

Your consciousness governs the actions you take; your subconscious governs your belief system. Underpinning this is your creative subconscious, which paints the picture of what you truly desire. The power of creating a vision board is that it taps into this creative subconscious in a way that your consciousness can access.

Lesson Content