Your Company's Mission, Vision, & Values
These are often the things that if you're onboarding at a new Fortune 500 company or even a Fortune 1,000 company, you're gonna get in the employee handbook, or you should get in the employee handbook. And these are often the things that you don't get when you are being hired by a small business. You don't don't know what the mission is, you don't know what the vision is, you just know you're supposed to punch this card and stand behind this register or plug these numbers into the spreadsheet. And it's what can make working for a small business really difficult. Or, when a small business does have this stuff together, it's what can make working for a small business absolutely incredible, right? Because you actually feel like you're part of the mission, the vision, the values, the opportunity. And you're not so far removed from it as you are in a large corporation. So, I'm gonna share our mission, vision values and opportunity and as I'm going through these I want you to be thinking abo...
ut how it applies to your business and how you might answer these questions. The first piece is our mission as CoCommercial. We exist to turn today's small business owners into tomorrow's economic powerhouses. We believe we can make the world a more inclusive, egalitarian, and compassionate place by empowering those who use commerce for good. And so, that's something I talk about with each and every one of our team members. It's something that we talk about in webinars, we talk about it inside of our community. So, this is something that we use, not just with our team, but it's also something that we use with our customers as well, the members of our community. And it's something I even talk about in interviews, and it's part of our life blood. This is why we do what we do. Our vision is that CoCommercial is the leading social and support hub for small business owners on the web. We connect the members of the New Economy from all over the world in one place so they can help themselves and each other save time, earn more and fulfill their missions. So again, each and every one of our team members, and the rest of our community know that our goal is to be the place you go to connect with other small business owners online. We also bake into that culture that it's not about me, it's not about Shannon, it's not about any one expert. It's actually about helping yourself, learning how to help yourself, and helping others. And that through helping others, you learn better how to help yourself as well. And so that kind of, again, it speaks to the culture that we have behind CoCommercial. Have any of you worked on vision or mission statements for your business? Some. Melissa, any that you want to share?
Nothing that I have on my tongue, able to speak.
That's fine. (laughing) So, just to clarify the difference here, 'cause there's often a question about that and I think you could read something that's different than what I'm about to say as well. But, the mission here is why we exist, it's the mission that we are moving forward, it's the purpose behind the company. Our vision is what we're working toward. It's where we see ourselves three years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now. It's sort of a moving target that we're constantly moving toward. So just, if you need clarification there for you, as you develop yours, that's how I look at it. Then we have our company values, and again, because we're a community-based company, our community values and our company values overlap. So, these are kind of worded in terms of the community, but they absolutely apply to our internal structures and processes and culture as well. The first one is personal empowerment. We provide unprecedented access to the inside scoop on what works and what doesn't to grow a small business so that our members can help themselves to exactly what they need, when they need it. This goes back to that guru free thing, expert free area. Our goal is to kind of provide that platform, equal access to information, ideas and support. And internally, that's important as well. Because that says we value your contribution to the team. It's not just about me, it's not just about Shannon. It's about whoever can bring the best idea. And recognizing that and making sure that they know that. Then there's community empowerment, as a value. We work to raise the profile of freelancers, small business owners and entrepreneurs of the New Economy so that public policy can meet the demands of a changing workforce. So, our goal as a community isn't just to help individuals, it's also to help the whole movement, the whole sea change in the economy. And that impacts our culture internally as well, because I believe one of the ways that we can help move the New Economy forward is to actually create New Economy jobs. Not just New Economy businesses, but New Economy jobs. And what does that look like? To me, that is a very empowered kind of position. It's one where everyone's contribution matters, it's where everyone knows what the expectations are, that it's very goal oriented. And that it really uses digital tools and systems and platforms to the best of its ability. And so we spend a lot of time having conversations about that and how we can best use those things to create a positive work environment and not a work environment that's like dictated by notifications on your phone. I don't want anyone working for me to feel like they're a slave to the notifications on their phone. 'Cause that would stink. Two more, transparency, we share how things work and why we do them as a model for our members to do the same. And so, we're transparent inside the organization, we're transparent outside the organization. If you ask me how we do something, I'll open up the SOV (chuckling) and show you literally how we do something. If you want to know how I developed some sort of messaging or how I structure my webinars or whatever it might be, we'll open it up and explain it. Shannon and I made a video a couple of weeks ago about social media. Shannon wanted to know about this that and the other thing. Not coming new to social media, but coming to it new as a business that uses social media. And so, we were gonna have a meeting, and I said, why don't we just record it, and basically invite everyone into this conversation so they can learn from it, too. And so that's transparency and that's constantly getting our people to think, how can we make this more transparent, how can we share more of what's working and what's not working and making sure they're on board with that as well. And then finally, experimentation, and to me this is one of the most important pieces of our company culture. We never wait around for the right answer, we form a hypothesis, take action on new ideas and analyze the results. We encourage our members to do the same and report back on what the discover. It says members there, but it absolutely applies to team members, too. Give it a try, but if you're gonna give it a try, have a hypothesis, know what you're trying to prove, do some analysis and come back to me or come back to Shannon or whoever else on the team and explain what we've learned and what we can do differently next time. Those are the values that kind of support our company culture. The last piece here is opportunity. I want the people on our team to know what our opportunity in the marketplace is. So that they understand that when they're creating value with us, for us, when they're interacting with members, they understand how we're utilizing a hole, an opportunity in the market. So that we're actually better able to fulfill our value proposition. So, CoCommercial provides a low cost way to connect people with answers, expertise and a diversity of perspectives. Just that sentence says so much about what they need to be on the lookout for, and how they might show up differently than in the past, in other jobs. It tells them where they need to be putting their brains so that they can be creative, so that they can contribute, so that there can be flexibility, but all toward that same purpose. So, that's mission, vision, values and opportunity. You guys have an questions about how we set up culture around that? Shelly.
How long did it take you to come up with those?
A long time. (laughing) No, I mean, I've come up with different things in the past. I shouldn't say it took a long time. I think it took a lot of clarity. And clarity came with time. I don't think it has to, but the most important thing was it came with space. So, to me the time piece is less important than the space piece. I created space to work on that. In the last session, when I talked about I knew, when we started to pivot, that I needed to hire someone to focus on growth for the time being so that I could focus on leadership. That was creating the space to refine these things and get them to where they are right now. We've been working with, that's probably iteration number four of something that we've been working with for a number of years now.
Yeah. Good question. Beryl.
How often do you go in and reassess this to make sure it still fits and is working?
Um, probly about once a year. Yeah, so that would be part of my annual planning process. Re-thinking those, like you said, do they still fit, do they still align, is there a better way I could articulate something knowing what I know now? Would I use a different word, would I put it in a different context? And I think it's less about the precise words, although me, I love precision in language, or I try to, anyway. And more about recommitting to it on an annual basis and reminding myself, and as a team reminding ourselves that these are the things that we're working toward and these are the conversations. We need to be having conversations about these things on a regular basis.
So to follow up on that, is it fair to say that of these four areas, the unique opportunity in the market is probably the most fluid? And kind of depends on where the market's going, where you want to fit into the market, how that shifts as your goals change as a business, or no?
That's a really interesting question. I would say, relative to the other things, yes, probably opportunity is the most fluid. And at the same time, my goal is to find an opportunity I think is gonna stick around for a long time, so that I can really develop my core offer in that opportunity. So I don't want people to think that the market is changing so fast that their opportunity is changing all the time, because I don't think that that's the case. Even if you look at the social media market right now. Is there room for a new social media platform? Highly likely. What does that look like? It's dictated by the players that are there now, trends, absolutely. But there's an opportunity, and I think it's a pretty persistent opportunity. Any specific suggestions on how to grow and nurture culture with a remote team? Yeah, absolutely. We have an all-remote team. Even Shannon and I, we live 20 minutes apart. (laughing) And we're still remote. I work at my house, she works at her house, it's great. And so, yeah we're thinking about this all the time. On Medium, especially, there are some phenomenal articles on virtual workplaces and developing culture in those kinds of working environments, but I think one, actually having the stuff written down and in a place where people can access it is super important. We use Asana to do exactly that, and we have it all laid out, it's super easy. I can walk a team member through that in the on-boarding process. They can go back and reference it whenever they need to. And so, just even having it there is an important piece of the puzzle. Reminding people (laughing) about it. Right, 'cause so many of the problems with that initial employee handbook conversation is that you do the initial employee handbook conversation, then you never hear about those things again. So you want to have regular reminders of what your values are. You want to point out when you make a decision. Maybe someone comes to you and says, should I do this or should I do that? And you make a decision based on an opportunity. You make a decision based on your values, you make a decision based on your mission. Remind them, the reason I chose this option was because of this value. Like, that social media video that Shannon and I did. The reason I thought, they, let's record this, is because I am steeped in that transparency value. And so, in having that conversation, I can remind her that the next time that comes up, hey record that conversation, or whatever it might be. So yeah, so it's regular reminders, it's actually having these things written down someplace that people can access them. And then, I also think it's not only using Slack or Messenger or email to communicate with your team, it's having regular meetings. I know the M word can be really scary. We've all had bad meeting experiences, just like we've all had bad working environment experiences. But good meetings can be used, in small doses, with really focused outcomes and goals and agendas, can be used to reinforce little pieces of your company culture as you go. And that goes with yourself, too. So, this question was about remote teams, but if we are going back to thinking through you as employee number one, when are you reminding yourself of your company culture? This is why I'm a big fan of Danielle Laporte's desire map planner. You can do this will all sorts of other planner systems, though, as well. She asked, what are your three core desired feelings for this year? And every day, right in that planner, I'm writing my three core desired feelings. And those things might not be my company values or my company things, but they're my values, they're the way I want to feel every day. And you can easily do the same thing with company values, as well. Just writing those things down, reminding yourself on a daily, weekly, even monthly basis, this is what I'm working toward, this is how I'm making decisions. Next question. CayBay says, I'm still not ready to hire an actual employee. Can we hear your thoughts about taking baby steps that will help us strengthen our boss muscles with smaller project-based hires through Fiverr, Task Rabbit, et cetera? Okay, this is such a good question. I wouldn't use those places (laughing) to start. Any time you're just not gonna have a good boss experience with someone you hire from Fiverr, Task Rabbit. Even like, well it's not called oDesk anymore, what is it called?
Upwork. You can get work done that way, but it's not a baby step towards strengthening those boss muscles. It is a transactional relationship where. I mean yeah, okay, you can get clear on what your expectations are on a job, you can learn how to communicate a little bit better. But I would say, if you want to strengthen your boss muscles, have conversations with real people you can really hire. Even if it's a small project, think long term. Hire people, not just for a single project, hire people for a project that you can also imagine there's another project down the line that I could give them and there's another project down the line that I can give them. Because, I think the real boss muscles are those relationship muscles. It's really caring about people. And yes, there's learning to set clear expectations and learning what metrics you need to be paying attention to and things like that. But I would much rather you exercise your boss muscles, and I love how you put that, (laughing) by developing relationships. And yeah, my only experience on Fiverr was not a positive one. I've never used Task Rabbit. I've had positive experiences on Upwork, but I had positive experiences on Upwork when I used it to find a person, as opposed to getting a job done. So, I had a job that needed to get done, but I also knew I needed that done over and over again, and so it was a great opportunity to start flexing those relationship muscles.