“Think about your ‘why’, your purpose for starting your organisation”.
When writing a business plan, one of the first things business owners normally get down on paper is a mission statement. This statement helps inform your whole plan of the activities and trade of your business. Companies all over the world have a mission statement explaining what it is they do.
If your business is a social enterprise, or you are just setting up, you’ve probably already thought about your ‘mission’; it might be used as an elevator pitch, or on funding application forms for example.
But have you ever thought ‘bigger’ than just what it is you want to achieve for your business? In our recent business planning workshop for Social Enterprise Matters, I learned that your mission is not the same as a ‘vision.’ A vision is in fact a much bigger, overarching mission that should form the reason for your mission, for carrying out the activities you do.
For example, the BBC’s vision is ‘to be the most creative organisation in the world’ whereas their mission statement is ‘to enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.’
Their vision informs their main activities; by providing services that enrich people’s lives, they are on the way to achieving their main vision.
It is also worth noting that a vision doesn’t necessarily have to be achievable, either now or in the immediate future. For example, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to ‘bring forward the day when all cancers are cured’.
This may or may not be achievable but what is important is that it keeps them going, it gives a reason for the charity to exist; a purpose.
Think about your ‘why’, your purpose for starting your organisation. You probably started your business to achieve something no one has ever done before. If you have a specific beneficiary group you aim to improve the lives of, a need your business is fulfilling or a particular goal you are aiming for, make this part of your vision. You can then make sure your activities, tradeable products and services and projects that make up your business feed into that vision. These activities provide you with a mission statement – which explains how you are going to take steps to achieve your vision. A mission statement can change year to year as your organisation grows.
Of course, once you have your vision and mission statements sorted, these not only inform your work, but also your marketing. As a Social Enterprise, it is better to be transparent and open, not only to funders but also to clients and funders.
If you would like to learn more about marketing your social enterprise business, why not attend our Marketing workshop at Staffordshire University on 9th June. You can buy your tickets here.
We’ve also got workshops including Digital marketing and social media strategy for Social Enterprises at our Showcase event on 22nd June.
By Kimberly Bond.