3 Basic Questions: Part 1 - Who are you?

This series of articles focuses on 3 questions every business owner should be asking, regardless of what stage of life their business is in to help them grow to the next level.

Perhaps the most basic and important thing a business owner can do is sit down in front of the mirror and take a good hard look. Who are you? What is your business all about? Why does your business exist?

Every business owner is familiar with the idea of values, vision and mission but what real purpose do they serve? It's about keeping your business on track and focused on the right things. These self-identifying questions help you to stay focused on the bigger picture of what your business is, point out what success looks like for you and surround yourself with the right kind of employees, partners and customers.

Values - Your values are those key, overarching concepts that drive how you make decisions, tell your customers what is important to your business and help you recruit and retain employees who are on the same page.

Values are big, lofty ideas: accountability, balance, commitment, diversity, empowerment, excellence, innovation, integrity, service...on and on the list goes. Every concept you can think of may have some value to your organization, but there are probably a handful of concepts that really define what makes you tick.

As much as you might like, your core values are not something you can just decide on and set. The values that really matter to your business must be discovered, and they come from you, your staff and the people you choose to surround yourself with. 

It is crucial to foster and focus on maintaining a set of values that you and your company can believe in.

Mission - Your mission sums up what your business is all about in a couple of sentences. I like to think of mission like this: if you are hiring a new employee and could only tell them two sentences about what your business is, who your customers are and how to treat people what would you say? That is the mission of your business. 

Vision - Vision is about looking down the road. Where is your business going? Do you want to be the largest company in your industry or are you trying to fill a specific niche? Are you looking for continuous expansion or is there a "right size" that you want to be?Thinking strategically about where you want your business to head let's you continuously review both scope and direction.