The HBS Blog offers insight on Delaware corporations and LLCs as well as information about entrepreneurship, start-ups and general business topics.
Successful organizations spend a lot of time saying, "that's not what we do."
It's a requirement, because if you do everything, in every way, you're sunk. You got to where you are by standing for something, by approaching markets and situations in a certain way. Sure, Nike could make money in the short run by licensing their name to a line of wines and spirits, but that's not what they do.
"That's not what we do," is the backbone of strategy, it determines who you are and where you're going.
Except in times of change. Except when opportunities come along. Except when people in the organization forget to ask, "why?"
Did you know that Harvard Business Services, Inc. started as a home business almost 29 years ago? That's righ;, in 1981 we started this company in the basement of our new home in Wilmington, Delaware. We truly believe that a terrific business idea can grow from anywhere, and your home can be a great place to begin your road to success as an entrepreneur. Below is an excerpt of an article from the American Express OPEN Forum with some interesting facts about home businesses.
"According to the SBA, there are over 15 million home-based businesses in the U.S. And based on analysis of data from the Network Solutions Small Business Success Index (SBSI) and the SBA, around 6.6 million of these are serious home businesses providing at least half of their owner’s household income.
The home has long been viewed as a great place to start a business. Lower costs are, of course, the key reason. Many large enterprises such as Ford, HP and Apple Computer started as home businesses.
A recent SBA study of growth-oriented firms that began operations in 2004 shows that the home continues to be a great place to start. About half of the growth oriented start-ups surveyed were home-based. And almost all of these firms were still home-based 2 years later."
Mission statements are like corporate Hallmark cards. Often written in a bland cursive font and plastered conspicuously at headquarters, these aspiring epigrams are pretty words in Air Supply -- like rhythm. Sometimes they're created at a retreat in the woods, between the trust fall and the passing of the speaking stick. Vigorous fights over semantics last for hours, even months. Then you end up with some variation of the jargony quasi-poetry above.
For three years, I sat on an advisory board at my alma mater that helped shape the university's entrepreneurship program. At every board meeting, someone would say, "So why are we here?" Then someone would read the mission statement (it was packed with words like "commitment" and "empowerment"), and even the most dramatic James Earl Jones -- like vocal effect couldn't help motivate us to think more clearly. Because it was neither clear nor useful -- and if it wasn't useful, why the heck were we arguing about it?
Mission statements don't have to be dumb. In fact, they can be very valuable, if they articulate real targets. The first thing I'd do is forget the exact words and remember the reason for a statement in the first place. In 2006, Wilson Learning surveyed 25,000 employees from the finance and tech industries. Respondents said they wanted a leader who could "convey clearly what the work unit is trying to do." The same applies to mission state-ments, which set the tone. Employees, vendors, and clients don't get stoked by fuzzy mission statements. They will line up behind concrete goals.
Below is an excerpt:
As the CEO or founder of a growing small business today, you are likely swamped meeting customer needs, dealing with inventory, shipping or customer service problems, pleasing investors, watching your budget, and looking for the next big opportunity. Wait: did you forget about your financial plan? While you might consider this a time-consuming business school exercise with little value for a hands-on small business owner like yourself, former Wall Streeter Tim Ferguson and others say that financial plans are in essence a roadmap to your future success.
This is a fantastic new viral advertising video produced by Volkswagen about the Fun Theory and it is certainly doing a great job spreading the VW logo around the web. Cleverly, the video does not mention the Volkswagen brand until the very end; instead it showcases an experiment. Does turning a set of subway stairs into a real-life piano encourage people to use them? (answer: yes, 66% more). This video has nothing to do with business but it got me thinking....How can we apply this fun theory to business or office environments? How can we make the mundane tasks at work more fun?
Please share your thoughts/ideas in the comments. We would love to know how you take the ordinary work day and turn it into something extraordinary!