The 3 things that every Founder should know inside out.
Let’s not beat around the bush. The 3 things that every Founder should know inside out are:
You might be thinking, “Aren’t they all more or less the same?” If so, you’re not alone. This is a common mistake made by many and it’s because purpose, vision and mission are often used interchangeably.
But let’s get one thing straight, they’re not the same.
It’s vitally important that founders and leaders know the difference between this golden trio because, that way, you can learn to use them to your advantage and get your teams powerfully aligned around them. In our work at The Future Kind Collective, we help companies define their purpose, vision and mission clearly before aligning and embedding them in their teams in order to grow their overall impact.
Here’s what you need to know:
Purpose is the reason that your company exists.
For a company, this means having a reason for doing business that’s about more than just making money. Take Patagonia, for example. Their purpose is about protecting the environment & planet. This is what drives all of their decisions, from their suppliers and partners through to how they market themselves — like their “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign where they encouraged customers to repair their clothes rather than buy new ones.
Vision is the future that you want to see.
This means a vision of the future that your business can meaningfully contribute towards creating. It’s usually related to the industry you’re in, but it also might be related to society & the wider community. For example, at The Future Kind Collective, our vision is to build people-centric companies that are diverse and inclusive, and where wellbeing is respected and protected. We want to do this within our company but also to have a similar impact in the clients and communities we work within.
Mission is how you get to this vision.
If your vision is the future that you want to see then your mission is how you get there. It’s the tools, tactics, products & services that you use to realise your current vision. It should describe what you do simply, while aligning to your purpose & vision. Again, using The Future Kind Collective as an example, our mission is to prove that by putting people and purpose first, you can create businesses that are more profitable, impactful and equitable. By focusing on proving this, we will have more companies bought into our vision and actively contributing towards it.
They’re all inherently linked and complement each other but being clear on their individual definitions means that we can make sure that what we’re trying to achieve is really clear to our customers, employees, investors and partners and why they should buy into our company. And that’s an amazing place to be.
Now that we’re clear on the definitions, let’s talk about longevity. Purpose is the longest lasting of the trio. In fact, it’s fairly static and should remain true for hundreds of years. That’s right, we said hundreds. This is why purpose is no joke! Your vision should stick around for a decent while — anywhere between 5 and 25 years — but, unlike your purpose, it’ll need to be evolved as it starts to be realised. Last but not least, we have your mission which changes most frequently. Typically, you’ll want to update it every 3 to 5 years so that you’re responding to internal and external factors which arise and might require you to pivot. You might be thinking, “Where does strategy fit in to all of this?” Well, this is something that you look at annually and is much more low level and specific than your purpose, vision and mission. So no need to throw out your annual strategy review just yet — but do start doing it if you’re not already!
Why does this matter?
It matters because, according to CB Insights, 70% of startups fail. When we dig into the causes of this, we find that failure is often linked to problems with the team behind the startup. In fact, research from Harvard Business Review suggests that 60% of new ventures which fail do so because issues around people and teams, such as lack of purpose, poor culture and leadership misalignment. And the truth is that these problems are totally avoidable. You can’t fix a poor product/market fit or a crap idea, but you can totally fix a team, so it seems a shame for so many businesses to fail for these reasons. That’s why getting crystal clear on your purpose, vision and mission, and reinforcing them as often as possible, is so important. It’s a simple, but meaningful, step to keeping your teams aligned for the long run and, most importantly, delivering success for your business!
If you’d like to find out more about the value of purpose, vision and mission, and how you can level them up in your business, download our free ebook here.
About the author
Nat is one of two co-founders at The Future Kind Collective which exists to build a world that is kinder, fairer and more creative, where all people have the opportunity to do great things.
Nat is a purpose-driven strategist, empathetic people leader, designer of cultures, services and companies. She is passionate about lifetime learning, compassionate leadership and inclusive cultures.
Nat started her career in digital strategy, where she applied service design to the strategic development of the NatWest mobile banking app. In 2016, she joined SPARCK, a design consultancy, as their third employee, where she was influential in shaping and growing it into a mature organisation.
Throughout her consultancy career, Nat has led projects with varied clients including Insights, Amnesty International, BP, Vocalink (of MasterCard), DVSA, Fidelity, HSBC, ITV and Pizza Hut.
About The Future Kind Collective
The Future Kind Collective is a purpose-driven consultancy which exists to build a world that is kinder, fairer and more creative, where all people have the opportunity to do great things.
We help start-ups and scale-ups to grow faster and more sustainably by defining their purpose, designing their culture and growing their impact, while also embedding the skills they need to unlock their potential.
We’re here to challenge the existing consultancy model and prove that by putting people and purpose first, you can create businesses that are more profitable, impactful and equitable.
To find out more or to chat over a challenge you’re grappling with, get in touch at email@example.com
We’d love to hear from you!