It always surprises me how many family businesses don’t have a stated mission. It seems to happen because a family business often starts because of a need to support the family or as a creative outlet for the entrepreneur. Once this goal was accomplished, no further thought is given on how to grow the business while maintaining harmony in the family. That’s a mistake!
Having a purposeful mission for your business can be a strong motivator, not just for the current owner, but for succeeding generations as well. While family businesses are born from many different beginnings, it stands to reason that what inspired and motivated the founder is not likely to be what keeps the business going in future generations. Members of the family that are poised to take over the business have different skills and ideas for how to proceed. A stated mission for the family business will make it easier to merge their incoming ideas with present ideals.
Basically, a well-thought-out mission statement can serve as a foundation that allows you to continue building your business in unity. Members of the family and the business have something to anticipate. They can look forward to what lies ahead. When there are decisions to be made, you can refer to the values stated in the mission to help.
So how can you develop a mission for your family business?
Take some time to examine your goals, values, and dreams for your business and your family life. Write them down. Don’t worry if some of your business goals conflict with family goals at first. Just write down what you want and what you value. If your spouse is involved in the business, they should also be involved in this exercise.
Compare your lists and see where they are similar or different. Note where your lists contradict each other and where they agree. Rank the items on your list based on what is most important to you, and again compare it with your partner’s list. As you work and rework your list, you will notice some basic truths emerging. These truths are the values that you live by and will serve as the guide for making future family business decisions.
With a family enterprise, there is no way the business can be successful without including the values, goals, and dreams of the family. Your mission should be a unified expression of what your family and business is about, what you really want to do and be, and the principles you choose to govern your life.
As your mission begins to take shape on paper, examine whether you are meeting it today. If not, change whatever you are doing now! The New Year is the perfect time to make some changes and get on the right track.
If you are looking to set goals for yourself and your business, I suggest making an appointment with a professional psychologist who is also a business consultant. They can help you to set and define goals specific to you, your personality, and your business style. I have worked with family businesses for over twenty-five years. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Or take a look at my remote education services if you live elsewhere.