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Our Mission

This article is the second in our series on the building blocks of a successful business. You can read the first article here.

If purpose is your business’ “Why,” then mission is its “How.”

As you may recall from our last issue, purpose sets your business’ direction. It is the driving force behind some of the most important decisions you’ll make as a business owner. However, purpose is not something that can be fulfilled or accomplished. That is why discovering purpose is only the first step. Next, you must craft your company’s mission statement.

Mission is what you use to measure how well you are moving toward your purpose.

Think of purpose as a cardinal direction, such as “West.” You can travel west for an eternity, but it is not a final destination. What measures your success and your impact is not reaching your purpose. Instead, it is the pace at which you travel. Just as you can travel towards West at 1 MPH or 1,000 MPH, your business can move towards its purpose at a slow or fast pace.

Mission is what you use to measure how well you are moving toward your purpose. For example, let’s say your purpose statement is, “We will dazzle our customers with outstanding lighting designs.” Although you have a lot of leeway with that purpose statement, it sets confines and kickstarts discussion about how well you’re doing. Although you’re moving toward your purpose if you work all year and end up dazzling two of your customers, your business won’t be around for long at that pace.

You want your mission to stretch you. This is where your BHAG comes into play. Your Big Hairy Audacious Goal should be something that’s achievable, but also challenges you to work harder and smarter to obtain it. It could include a dollar amount (“Our mission for 2018 is to make $1,000,000 in sales”). It could include a number of installations (“Our mission for 2018 is to complete 300 installations”). There are so many possibilities, but it’s up to you to figure out what’s right for your company.  

Once you have your mission set, you are better equipped to plan out the steps to achieve it. In order to fulfill your mission, you may need to hire more technicians, buy a new truck, or launch a new marketing campaign. After you’ve come up with three or four actionable steps, you’re on your way to effectively completing your mission and pursuing your purpose.

There may be bumps along the way, but when you set goals and you have a clear idea of where you’re going with your business, you’ll be able to achieve more.

Damien Sanchez – Co-Owner

This article appeared in the sixth issue of our newsletter. If you’d like to read more articles like this, visit our NEWSLETTER PAGE and sign up to receive our free newsletter in the mail! 

Our Purpose

This story was published in the June edition of our newsletter. It is the first installment in our series on building an intentional company culture.  

Your purpose is one of your company’s most valuable assets.

While this statement may seem like hyperbole, I’ve personally seen the enormous impact of purpose in my own company. It’s foundational to your business. Your purpose dictates and guides how your company runs and how far it will go. It’s your compass telling you what to take on and what to say no to. It provides everyone in the organization a direction to work towards. You support your purpose with a common set of values shared by you and everyone on your team. Ultimately, your purpose and your core values will shape your company’s culture.

It took us a number of years to find our purpose as a company. We had trouble articulating it, but it just needed to be discovered. We asked questions like “why did we start the business,” “what do we enjoy about the business,” and “what motivates us to continue in this business?” For us, we realized it wasn’t about what we do, but how we can positively impact others.

However, even after that realization, it took some time for Pat and I to work out how we could form a cohesive purpose when we owned three very different companies: a manufacturing company, a mosquito control company, and a lighting installation company. So, we began to try and answer the “why” questions of our businesses by listing out what we wanted to accomplish: good stewardship, building others up, providing for our families, and helping others.

From there, we were finally able to discover our purpose statement. Now, everyone who works at Sterling Lighting knows our purpose well: We practice faithful stewardship over everything that is entrusted to us, and we positively influence all those who come into contact with us. It’s why we exist as an organization. It also prevents people from working here that do not share our vision, and it gives us a unified direction we’re all committed to moving toward.

Understanding and articulating your purpose statement is difficult enough, but applying it takes even more creativity and effort. However, we’ve worked hard to be intentional about living out our purpose and letting it guide how we run our business. Our purpose gives us a yardstick to measure our decisions against. Either consciously or unconsciously, we always ask ourselves: Will this decision make a positive impact on the lives of our customers, employees, family members, or friends?

So, when we design and manufacture high-quality products, our purpose underlies our choice not to cut corners to save 15% on a product that will fail in two years. Poorly-made LED fixtures that need repair work after a couple years will leave a bitter taste in your mouth. However, by using quality materials and cutting-edge technology, we’re able to offer you a product you’ll feel confident installing.

When we decided how we would sell our fixtures, our purpose guided our choice to sell directly to contractors instead of distributors. While this may have slowed our growth because we’ve had to build our brand from the ground up, it has also saved us 20-30% on our fixtures. We’ve then been able to pass those savings along to you! Selling directly to contractors has also allowed us to form stronger relationships with you, our customer.

Finally, when we asked ourselves what else we could do to positively impact our customers, our purpose underlay our decision to create marketing programs, such as Sterling Storefront. We wanted to help our fellow small business owners with an aspect of their business that, because of the time and money involved, often gets put off to the side. Our hope is that by offering affordable, easy-to-use marketing solutions, you’ll be able to more effectively get the word out about your company.

Other marketing programs are also in the works. Just last month, we went and visited a couple of our customers down in Florida, Tim Pleasant and Tim Salopek, to shoot company videos and testimonials for them. In the future, we hope to continue to use our video and marketing resources to help even more of our customers.

Ultimately, I believe that when we fulfill our purpose, we help your business thrive. This, in turn, gives you more time and energy to positively impact the people in your own life. This is why I encourage all entrepreneurs to form and embrace a purpose.

Once you know your purpose, you can form your core values, which determine how you act. With purpose influencing your decisions and core values influencing your actions, you begin to form an intentional culture in your company. You will spend so much of your life working in your business, why create an accidental culture that doesn’t align with the vision of what you want your company to look like? Purpose is just the first step, but it’s an important one.

Damien Sanchez

Co-Owner

Want to read more articles like this? Contact sarah@sllights.com and we’ll sign you up to receive our monthly newsletter.