Here are five steps that have helped me to craft the dream (vision) and the overarching objective for the business (mission).
And while I don’t have your context, I assume you have read this far because you are frustrated and tired of not having strategic clarity for your venture.
1. Go back to basics
Coming together on vision and mission usually elongates when founders develop an obsession for word-smithing these statements. In doing so they also often disconnect from what inspired them to start in the first place.
Go back to the experiences that inspired the venture’s genesis and then look objectively at the three ingredients that need to exist in order for a business to operate:
- Science – Do we understand and can we communicate the discovery or insight that was uncovered?
- Technology – Do we understand and can we communicate the processes that mean the discovery can be repeated efficiently at scale?
- Business model – Do we understand and can we communicate how to create and capture value from the technology?
At the very least there should be a hypothesis behind answers for each of these questions.
2. Keep learning
If you’re not learning you’re wasting time. Keep working to validate the hypotheses you have around your science, technology and business model.
These experiments will continue to inform vision and mission. And the alternative (no learning and postulating in a vacuum) isn’t useful and a surefire way to kill momentum and enthusiasm.
3. Add minds to the challenge
Share it with your co-founder(s) and/or selected mentors.
Give them permission to add their versions of vision, mission, value proposition and values no matter how half-formed their thinking is.
Ask these same people to refine their thoughts each month.
You will be surprised at how this level of collaboration will help.
I was speaking with two mentees recently, Nick and Tristan, co-founders of Sempo.ai
and they shared a valuable habit that has helped them advance their vision and mission: Apply for pitch competitions and accelerators once a month.
The point is to practice, regularly.
And if you’ve just asked yourself, “what if we win?”, you’ve missed the point.
5. Interrogate the feedback you’ve already got
I remember hearing a regular piece of feedback from AirShr users (our previous venture, this Shazam but for anything you hear on the radio).
“Your product makes me listen differently to radio”. We had provided a way for people to hold on to moments on the radio that they liked and wanted to dive deeper on or share while they were driving.
Over time we realised that listen differently was an important part of the value proposition and our users were telling us that from day one.
The moral of the story: Your users and customer have probably already given you your value proposition (and a key ingredient to help articulate vision and mission).