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Culture  |  5 min read

Purpose, values, mission: How to find the "Why" for your small business

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Stephanie Hitchins

What is the number one responsibility of every great leader?

Keap CEO, Clate Mask, believes the top responsibility he has as a leader is to have and articulate the "vision” of the company to all his employees. He says if we aren’t rolling our eyes when he talks about the vision, then he isn’t talking about it enough. This is the biggest and most important responsibility that will help you as a business owner build a company that will last.

Why does having a clear vision matter?

Vision gives you clarity. It helps give you You have alignment and harmony with employees and with the work. It can attract amazing talent. Your vision can inspire and motivate.

When you have a clear vision, it's easier to make decisions within your company. Filtering what you do as a business and what you commit to each and every day becomes easier as you consider your vision in the decision process. If a decision aligns with the purpose of your vision and your business's values and mission, then you should invest time, resources, and management attention to it. If not, get rid of it.

When a vision isn't clearly defined, resources within your company become scattered and unaligned, and employees start working in different directions. Have a clearly-defined vision helps unify your work and the work of your employees.

If you haven’t articulated your company’s purpose, values, and mission, now is a great time to do the foundational work on this. Start with getting clear on your purpose (your “Why), then create values (your “How”), and then your mission (your “What”).

Here are a few tips to creating this:


Since this is your “why,” it’s necessary to get clear on this. Consider these questions: Why do you devote your life to your cause? What impact do you have on the world?

Your purpose is something that should stand the test of time and will never change, even after 100 years. It can also be the same as another business's. But a word of caution: It's not the marketing of your business, it's the why of what you get excited about. It drives everything you do in your business.

Take Keap, for example. Our purpose is, "We help small businesses succeed."

It’s clear, short (easy to remember), and impactful. It’s a cause people get behind. I can only imagine that if our purpose was to “sell software” we wouldn’t be a 600-plus employee company and have the significant growth we’ve had. “Selling software” isn’t worth devoting your life to. Helping small businesses succeed is.

Some examples of great Purpose statements come from our customers:

DC Mosquito Squad: "Connecting people in their outdoor spaces."

Caboodle: "To empower people to anticipate and manage their money matters."

Iron Tribe Fitness: "To create fitness communities that change lives."


The next part of creating your vision is articulating your values, or the “how” you accomplish your why. These values describe what already is, not what could be. They should represent your core beliefs, and are things you and your team are already manifesting daily in your work. But be sure your employees believe in the values you create. Otherwise, you'll risk losing alignment across the company.

We have seven core values at Keap, all of which govern the way our company does business and supports our purpose of helping small businesses succeed. For instance, in order to help small businesses succeed, our value, “We build trust,” must be ingrained in each employee that works at Keap. And it isn’t always easy being a part of a company that grows quickly, so our value, “We check ego,” is really important for all employees to endure.

Dan Ralphs, co-founder of Dream Leadership Consulting, gives a great analogy for the role values play within a company:

*“The purpose of your company is your anchor in the vast ocean, and the values are what keep you from drifting too far away from your purpose.” *

Consider your values the guide rails for your team when make decisions on a regular basis. They bring accountability to operate within the confines of the business, which ultimately allows freedom.


The last part of your vision is the clear articulation of your mission. Since your purpose is your “why” and your values are your “how,” your mission is your “what." It articulates what, exactly, you will accomplish in the next three to five years, and it aligns with and supports your purpose.

Your mission should be both achievable and aspirational. It should state what you are going to do and by when. It's best to focus on the next three to five years as you aim to accomplish your “what.” At Keap, our mission is to create and dominate the market of all-in-one business management apps and software for small businesses.

In our experience, it's our customers who've put together a clear vision and ultimately hire, train, and release employees by the guidance of that vision who really succeed at scaling their businesses. Once they've made their purpose, values, and mission a part of their every day, they start to grow in the right direction, with the right people on their team.

As you get clear on your vision—no matter what stage your business is in—you will see that you will begin to hire the right people for the job and that your team will become aligned to your vision as the creator and founder of your company.

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