Oh good heavens, a mission statement? Do people still use those things? Wasn’t that just one of those business fads created by Stephen R. Covey’s in the 80’s? Well, whatever, I don’t know. I just think it’s good to spell out what the purpose of the business is somewhere, just so people know. Just so I know, even if nobody else does. Here it is:
To make a profit.
That’s it? Money?! Well, no, not just to make money, but to make more money than it costs to run the business. But what about treating customers right? What about treating employees right? What about doing good in the community, and for society? What about making the world a better place? Yes, those are all well and good, even critically important, but nothing is as important as making a profit. Why? Because if I were to put any other priority above that one, then I would risk not being able to meet any priority. Or in other words, a business can sustain no other activity for the long-term if it isn’t profitable in the long-term, because a business that isn’t profitable will cease to exist. Or to put it yet another way, if a business does not make a profit, it cannot treat customers right, treat employees right, do good in the community or for society, or make the world a better place. Profit must come first.
It’s sort of like the human body and its relationship to food. It is only when the acquiring of food ceases to become a daily struggle that a human can turn his mind to all the good things life has to offer. It might sound as ridiculous to say that a human’s mission statement is to eat, but it didn’t seem as ridiculous to our ancestors who spent most of their days trying to put food on the table. It is only our modern standard of living that allows us to take food for granted and focus our attention on other, more “noble” aspirations. And it is only a consistent, predictable, and healthy profit that allows a business to turn its attention to more noble things.
But there more to it. A business can’t wait to treat customers and employees right until it makes a profit. It must do those things in order to make a profit…well, ok, it seems like there are a lot of exceptions to that rule, but there aren’t, it’s just a matter of how you define “right”. You might say a business needs to treat its customers and employees “well enough” in order to make a profit, well enough being whatever threshold is necessary in order to keep customers and employees around and doing what they need to do in order to produce that profit. The more competitive an industry, the more mobile customers and employees, and the less barriers to entry for competitors, the better a business has to treat its employees and customers if it wants to keep making a profit and survive. So it’s not that I’m saying treating customers and employees doesn’t matter, I think it matters quite a bit, and it’s what I want to do not just because it will produce a profit, but because I enjoy treating customers and employees well, but if I try to treat customers and employees well at the expense of making a profit, then I will fail in treating them well, regardless of my good intentions. Trust me, this isn’t just theorizing, I lived this reality for years.
You want to know at what point my business started treating customers and employees better? It was when I made the decision to pay myself first, instead of last. That decision was one of the hardest I ever made with my business, and it changed everything for the better.
And so MWI’s mission statement is this: Make a profit. How? By making customers happy. How do you do that? By keeping employees happy. From there, we get buried in the details, which will be forthcoming.Liked it? Share it!