Have You Checked In With Your Mission Lately?

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When TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie began feeling uneasy with the direction of his wildly successful company, he knew he had to go back to the drawing board of TOMS’ mission.

The company had been growing by incredible amounts for over six years, but Mycoskie was starting to feel like something was off. He knew he needed to do some soul searching, so he took an extended honeymoon with his new wife in Austin.

“The more I thought about this idea, the more I realized that TOMS had veered away from its ‘why,’” Mycoskie wrote for Harvard Business Review. “In the early days we always led with our story: We weren’t selling shoes; we were selling the promise that each purchase would directly and tangibly benefit a child who needed shoes. But our desire to sustain the company’s hyper-growth had pushed us away from that mission and into competing on the ‘what’ and ‘how,’ just as every other shoe company does.”

You see, Mycoskie knew his company’s mission wasn’t simply to sell shoes — it was to create a movement to better the world. He came back from his sabbatical with a plan to realign TOMS with its mission, by starting a coffee roasting branch under the TOMS brand with the same one-for-one giving model as the shoe brach.

Almost five years later, TOMS now sells bags, apparel, and other goods — all tying into the initial one-for-one mission.

What’s your mission?

When’s the last time you took a good look at your business’s mission statement? As every business grows, goals and visions evolve. Milestones are met, and new objectives are added. Throughout all these changes — both large and small — it’s important to ensure your business is still true to its mission.

Even if you don’t have a formal mission statement written up, it’s pretty likely that your company already has an unofficial vision. These are the core principles and lofty goals that drive everything your company does — and the way you do it. Your mission statement should contain what you value most as an organization.

It doesn’t need to be formal, and you don’t need to paint it on the wall of your lobby. It doesn’t even need to be cleverly worded. You just need to know it exists.

How often should you review your mission?

I recommend reviewing your mission regularly, such as during your yearly reflection. Whether it’s on your business anniversary or at the end of the annual or fiscal year, schedule some time to consider how the year has gone and whether you’re still in line with your mission.

This might be a solo reflection like Blake Mycoskie, or it may be a conversation you have with your Board of Directors or founding team. If you’re a solo entrepreneur, this may be a good conversation to have with a mentor or accountability group.

Once a year is probably plenty frequent to review your business mission — unless you see substantial changes during the year.

Maybe your company has been acquired, or you’ve merged with someone else. Maybe you’ve launched a radical new product, or changed direction in the services you offer. Maybe your entire industry has been shaken up. Maybe the leadership of your organization has changed.

Or, maybe you’re simply falling out of love with the business and you’re not sure why.

Whatever the reason, schedule yourself a time to check in with your business mission.

Your company will thank you for it.

Tell me: When was the last time you checked in with your business mission? Do you think you’re due?

I am currently writing a book called All Leaders Make Mistakes. You can read the opening chapter here at this LinkedIn Pulse article. Comments always appreciated.