A few years ago, I enrolled on the Rich Dad’s Entrepreneur coaching course. One of the very first things I learnt was that a business must have both a business and spiritual mission in order to be successful. This is especially true at the beginning. If a business’s missions were clear and strong, the business would be able to weather the trials that every business must endure during its early years. On the other hand, when a business forgets its mission—or if its original mission no longer motivates the business—then that business slowly begins to die.
Many people start a business for the money. But unfortunately, money alone does not provide the drive, zeal and desire to keep a business going, especially when times get tough. Businesses in the early stages are the most vulnerable because their cash-flow is at the weakest. Today, the economic climate is not going too well in Australia. Many small businesses are under a lot of pressure. The temptation to throw in the towel is indeed great for those who are living near the edge. Without a strong motivating mission, a business will not survive through the hard times.
It is easy to think that the business’s mission is only for idealists and daydreamers. But in practice, it serves a very valuable operational function as well. How? Remember in “7 Secrets of Tomorrow’s Highly Successful Internet Businesses”, I wrote about the difference between an opportunist and a strategist? Your business’s mission will help prevent you from sliding into thinking like an opportunist. It helps to keep your business in focus. Especially during the early stages of a business’s development, many distractions can emerge—not just setbacks, but also opportunities that may lie outside a company’s core mission. If allowed to do so, these distractions can slow or halt a company’s progress toward its goals. The best way for an organization to get back on track is to revisit and recommit to its mission. In other words, deal with the distraction as quickly as possible, and then refocus your efforts on what your business is really trying to achieve.
What is the business mission?
This is what the Rich Dad’s Entrepreneur Coaching course taught,
The business mission is pretty much what it sounds like—the business’s financial purpose. In modern parlance, the business mission is typically defined by the value that an organization brings to the marketplace—its “business case” or its core “value proposition.”
For instance, a business might seek to provide a higher quality product in a certain class, a more proficient service, or superior results for clients through focus and expertise. One example: a popular legal practice claims that it can secure larger settlements for accident victims because the firm has successfully handled hundreds of accident cases in the past. Delivering these results for its clients is the firm’s business mission.
A business mission is more than a vague mission statement like “becoming an industry leader” or “providing value to customers.” For its business mission, a company should identify and then seek to fill a specific and important customer need. If the company fills that need—and fills it well—the business will be on the path to success.
What about the spiritual mission? Is it even necessary? How would a profit-making entity even have a spiritual mission? This is what Rich Dad has to say,
A spiritual mission is similar to a business mission in that it is specific, forward-looking, and business-related. But while the business mission is focused on dollars-and-cents achievements, the spiritual mission is the organization’s “heart and soul”—its emotional driver. The importance of the spiritual mission cannot be overstated. Rich dad could cite numerous examples in which the spiritual mission had helped to transform an interesting idea into an unstoppable one. For instance, he noted, “Henry Ford was a man driven by a spiritual mission first and a business mission second.” His spiritual mission? “He wanted to make the automobile available to the masses, not just the rich. That is why his mission statement was, ‘Democratize the automobile.’”
Your business’s spiritual mission need not be lofty. Robert Kiyosaki’s rich dad, for instance, owned a number of restaurants, some in poorer sections ofHawaii. His spiritual mission was simple, even prosaic: to provide jobs and opportunities for many of the impoverished people to whom he served food. But it was a sufficiently motivating mission that he and his team worked tirelessly until they achieved what they set out to achieve. Unfortunately, in drafting a mission statement, many novice entrepreneurs place too much emphasis on the company’s more obvious business mission and less attention on the more subtle spiritual one. In the process, they learn—often, too late—that a business that seeks money without a higher purpose has no soul
One last note: it is your responsibility, as a business owner to balance between your business’s spiritual and business mission. For example, you can’t let your spiritual, social, or charitable goals dominate your business ones. After all, if your company isn’t making money, you won’t have the resources to accomplish the higher purposes that you wish to achieve.
The lesson is clear: if you want your small business to be a truly great business one day, then you cannot skip the step of coming up with business and spiritual mission. Your business’s missions will then flow down to the strategies and decisions you make and the direction your business takes.