She seemed to like what we’re doing and we had a fun conversation about what prompts people to start businesses and what gives start-ups the best chance of success.
Two things really stuck in my mind from the conversation:
1. The distinction between making money and creating value
One of our main frustrations with working for a big corporate company was the fact that while we were undoubtedly making a lot of money (or causing it to move around) it was much harder to see what discernible, lasting value our work was having. After a while we found this rather demotivating.
We were talking about the extent to which lots of start-up businesses aren’t only focused on generating profit (although obviously that’s nice). And it really clarified something in my mind – which is that Dom and I are intent on solving a problem and building something we feel passionate about.
Yes we want to make money to support ourselves, but – more importantly – we also want to create value. Otherwise surely we would go back to our jobs? Although Dom often laments the +£50k salary he would be on by now…!
Our positive experiences of swapping a stable salary (where you generate lots of money) for a venture aimed at creating something valuable (something that matters) have led us to this conclusion: It’s better to build a business focused on creating genuine value than money. It’s also a lot more fun and also probably more financially rewarding in the long run.
And this leads onto the second thing that struck me on Tuesday…
2. The importance of having a mission
There are all sorts of McKinsey studies which talk about how values-led businesses outperform non-values-led businesses. What does this even mean? Basically it means that organisations with a clear objective, raison d’être, mission or purpose do better.
Why? Perhaps because it provides everyone in the organisation and every decision with a standard against which they can measure every decision, their behaviour and the organisation’s strategy.
A mission actually comes before a strategy… I suppose if it’s the right mission it informs the strategy.
It also allows your target clients to ‘get it’… it’s a clear way of explaining what your organisation is for and why people should care. More than that, we all like stories and we all like products and services that resonate on an emotional level.
Check this out from Innocent:
Our purpose is to ‘Make natural, delicious food and drink that helps people live well and die old’.
[Staying true to our purpose will give us the best shot at achieving our vision…]
Our long-term vision is to become ‘The earth’s favourite little food company’
[… and our values: we have one core principle around which we make all our decisions:]
Our Values: ‘Create a business we can be proud of’
I think these statements probably do two things:
- influence all future decisions, strategy and culture
- ensure that the organisation is focused on creating value. Not just money.
Some other great missions:
The Adventurists: Fighting to make the world less boring
Huxley Clothing: Making clothes that support British manufacturers. Putting colour back into British wardrobes.
Can’t think of any others at the moment. Know any?!
Escape the City is on a mission to liberate talented people from unfulfilling corporate jobs.
Everything we do stems from this objective. It is helping us build our business and it also helps people understand whether Esc is for them or not.
What do you think?
How could you build something to create value as well as money?
What’s your mission?