Running a business is a lot like falling in love. At the start, every second of attention goes towards tending the new apple of your eye and helping the relationship grow. Itâ€™s all late nights together, long days spent in each otherâ€™s company, and the adrenaline that comes with an incredible new adventure.
After a while, day-to-day life creeps back into the picture. The hours we used to spend gazing adoringly at our websites have been replaced with helping customers, putting out fires, and keeping the lights on.
Itâ€™s so easy to fall into a rut with our businesses and brands. And while we might be comfortable, the cost of that comfort can be stagnation.
A lot of time has passed since you took your business on a steamy first date, and itâ€™s time for a little novelty. A little spice. A little intentional improvement.
This is where small business strategy and branding comes in.
When it comes to refreshing your business and injecting a little more oomph into the relationship, it all begins by pinpointing your vision, mission, and values.
1 | Put your vision front-â€™nâ€™-center.
Youâ€™ve built your company based off the mission in your heart and the fire in your eyes. That said, whenâ€™s the last time you put a pen to paperâ€”or your fingers to a keyboardâ€”and make your vision known?
If the answer is yesterday, then we are literally bowing to you. As in, please give us a second to complete our bowing. (Thereâ€™s a whole choreographed dance involved first.)
But if itâ€™s been a little longer, letâ€™s take a look at the simple way to nail down what you stand up for.
Exercise #1 | Ask yourself: What are you setting out to achieve?
This is your lofty, pie-in-the-sky dream for your business. Maybe you run a yoga studio, and your vision is to help people find overarching peace and balance in their lives. Maybe youâ€™re a CPA and are here to help your clients finally find financial freedom. Maybe youâ€™re a juggler who wants to revolutionize meditation practices by showing people how to throw scarves in the air.No matter what youâ€™re doing, you already have a vision. Now itâ€™s just time to name it.
Exercise #2 | Fill out this easy formula.
Then high-five the heck out of yourself. Because congrats! Youâ€™ve rediscovered the vision that helps you make moves.
My vision is to _____________ so that _____________.
2 | Your mission (should you choose to accept it).
Once you know what you want to achieve, the question becomes:
How do you achieve that vision? What are the logistical, concrete steps that turn the intangible dreams into steps you can actually do?
Letâ€™s think about the yoga studio owner. Their big-picture vision is to help people find overarching peace and balance in their lives. Their mission might be to open a welcoming and inclusive yoga studio.
The CPA we mentioned earlier wants to teach clients financial freedomâ€”which starts by running a successful tax accounting business for fellow entrepreneurs.
Exercise #1 | Jot down the answers to these blanks.
Branding exercises like this can feel big and overwhelming, but itâ€™s all about working through it in bite-sized pieces. For your mission, itâ€™s helpful to start with this:
If I want to [your mission] , then the first & smallest step in that direction is to ____________________.
Exercise #2 | Ask yourself: Does this get me closer to my mission and help me meet my vision?
Identifying your vision and mission makes it so much easier to make strategic decisions for your business. Wave buh-bye to all those e-courses you bought but have never opened. (We all do it.) Instead, welcome to the world of knowing what you wantâ€”and exactly how to get it.
3 | List out your companyâ€™s values.
Or put another way: Make a note of all the character traits your company has that you admire. (Itâ€™s your partner, remember? Youâ€™re in it together.)
Unlike your mission, values arenâ€™t tangible objects or plans. Instead, theyâ€™re more like the main personality traits of your business. Are you all about sustainability? Transparency? Community? Respect?
Take some time to reflect on your professionalâ€”and likely personalâ€”values. Once youâ€™ve landed on three or four, those become the guiding principles that determine everything from your logo design to your service offerings.
Exercise #1 | Brainstorm with the formula below.
Our core values are often the things we admire most in other people. A great way to suss out where your inner compass is, experiment with this:
I admire [behavior] , so I really value [trait] .
As an example, maybe you admire when clients tell it like it is, so you really value transparency. If you admire someoneâ€™s social media strategy, maybe you really value community engagement.
There are no wrong answers here, so dig in and get your hands dirty.
Take the time to woo your business, so later you wow your customers.
Mission and vision work are a way to reconnect with what you do best, inject new energy into your business, and remember that youâ€™re in control of how your company operates. You make the rulesâ€”especially when it comes to your small business strategy and branding.
Go forth and fine-tune your brand foundations. Youâ€™ll have greater focus, more motivation, and a better sense of how youâ€™re showing up in this weird and wonderful world.
If ease is one of your values, make sure your business and appointment scheduler are easy to find onlineâ€”with Acuity:
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