If you have not yet chosen all your summer vacation reading, I’d like to suggest adding The NICE Reboot: A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur to your pile. And, men, don’t be put off by the word “female” in the title; this book has plenty of advice and helpful information for males, too.
You can benefit from this book whether you’re taking the first steps on the path to having your own business or you’ve been in business for a while, especially if your knowledge of technology could use a boost. Author Penina Rybak is CEO of Socially Speaking LLC, a boutique educational technology consulting firm. She wrote this book for people who are looking for practical help about how to operate a successful business and who want to be more tech-savvy. The book is filled with practical strategies to increase your business and technology IQ and philosophical questions to consider. I particularly like that each chapter begins with a list of helpful websites on the topic so you can easily dive deeper into the topic once you’re done reading Rybak’s take on it.
Thanks to Jim Pennypacker, publisher of Maven House Press, for sending me a review copy of this book and for allowing me to share this excerpt:
Mission Statement Guidelines and Online Resources
Quotes to Ponder
I remember thinking, I’ll just keep doing this as long as I can get away with it. –Tina Fey
Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life … everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it. – Dr. Viktor E. Frankl
Mission statements are defined as written words about your company’s soul and role on this earth. Your mission statement should define your purpose as an entrepreneur, inspire people to join your figurative call to action, and create traffic to your social media sites. The wording should be long enough to help you create a digital footprint, yet short enough to give people a quick insight into what you and your company stand for regarding your services or products.
I read a wonderfully practical, surprisingly funny book in my early days as a startup, bootstrapping entrepreneur that really made me think. It made me think about the mental and emotional cubicles we put ourselves in. It made me ponder my goals and gave me a different perspective about the components of my mission. I’m talking about Pamela Slim’s Escape From Cubicle Nation. I want to quote from it, but find myself recommending the entire Chapter 3 instead. I want to point out that her suggestion to create a vision board is genius. Slim advocates that you start your brainstorming process by taking your own drawings, mementos, and photos of things that catch your fancy and cut-outs and clippings from magazines to create a graphic representation comprising words and images related to your topic of interest. A literal, tangible picture of your inner landscape — a mind map of your stored memories and your chi.
Vision boards aren’t new to me. They’re something that the world of education, particularly special education involving children with autism (who have been proven to be predominantly visual learners), have used for a while. They’re something that the insightful, sensitive oncology nurses told my best friend, the determined, reflective scholar who was battling cancer, to use. A vision board, at its core, is an easy to see and maintain representation of your goals, long term and short, and the steps you need to take to achieve them.
Lately, many people in corporate settings, in marketing and in incubators and/or accelerators, have offhandedly remarked (either to me in person or online in social media posts) that they use the wording of their initial elevator pitches (whether for interviews or to snag projects or venture capital or crowdfunding) as a basis for the wording they use in their raisons d’être — their mantras and their mission statements. For their websites and for their companies. Having used a vision board as an introductory, opening salvo for tasks I needed to break down or as a time-management strategy when completing projects in the education and healthcare arenas with human beings I actually know (not just showing off my plethora of photos or my slideshow to investors or venture capitalists who may be captive, faceless receptacles of my hook at meetings or during webinars), I see things differently and respectfully disagree with them.
You should develop your mission statement first, before you have an elevator pitch. Patiently. Methodically. Visually. Visually break down your concepts to their most basic components. You’ll surprise yourself with your focus, with insights about elements of design that you may not have considered and, most of all, with your ability to plot a course of action that’s more sequential than you expected. Everything else that you do for your business that you look at as the next link in the chain will be viewed through the lens of your mission. Developing your mission statement first will change the way you approach your projects, pitch, and players. It will change the way you react to events beyond your control. Try it, and see what I mean.
Three Tips for Writing a Mission Statement
- Brainstorm with your inner voice and those you trust. Try to understand the contribution you want to make. Determine your values, strengths, and other important aspects of yourself. To get the brainstorming process started, analyze yourself, your raison d’être, and ask others who know you well how they perceive your role in life, in your job, in your community, and in your family. Look online for examples, such as this post I found on Wendy Maynard’s Kinesis Blog: http://bit.ly/how-to-write-a-powerful-mission-statement. Here are some examples of powerful mission statements that she cited:
Amazon: To be the most customer-centric company in the world, where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online.
eBay: Provide a global trading platform where practically anyone can trade practically anything.
Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
- Keep the three strikes rule. Write your first draft, then a second, and then a third. Keep your drafts short, using words that evoke inspiration, action, and focus. Make a vision board using real photos and newspaper clippings, or keep it digital and green. Use an app to design a poster and an app for your portfolio to save items to paste in order to gain clarity (I use Evernote and Pocket for my iPad). Make mistakes; leave your draft and go do something else. For a whole day and night. Sleep on it. Then come back to it, to flesh it out some more. Write it in shorthand using an app on a mobile device for easy access and revisions on the go. I like to use the iOS app Tree Notepad because it separates the title from the body of the note, forcing me to really think!
- Publicize your mission. Post it online to make it part of your digital footprint. Post it, or information about it, on your newly created digital platform using Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Tumblr, and website pages. Connect the dots. If you play your cards right, it’ll stick. Your mission will then become part of your brand.
Excerpted from The NICE Reboot: A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur by Penina Rybak. Maven House Press, 2014.