All pondering of important things begins with purpose. We are made to become something great. As the leader of your firm, only you can deliver the particular style of service in the particular way you deliver it for the care and comfort of the team and clients you will lead. Let that sink in. If this is true (and it is), that means two important things: (1) you can go all in to claim your greatness to the world and not hold back, and (2) no one can take the peculiarity of your firm away from you. Because of who you are, you can commit deeply to how you believe you should be serving people in your firm and not have to worry about other people taking your clients away from you. You are peculiar and you must embrace that to build a firm that changes other people’s lives.
Out of your firm’s peculiarity comes your reason for existence. And your reason for existence is particular to you and not shared with other people. You are unique and creative (all humans are). Embrace this as you work on your firm’s reason for existence. Your reason for existence is less about your team, or your clients, and more about you as the firm owner. Make sure your purpose reflects what you want to add to the world as a firm leader. What seasoning do you want to add to this profession? Be bold, and add some flavor! Proclaim what you love in your purpose so everyone is clear who you are and why you exist. We are talking about your firm’s purpose statement, and you can’t build a firm without a clear purpose for existence. Why do you exist? Better, why should you exist? Put it boldly on the front of your website and all marketing materials. Tell the world why you exist, and make them wrestle with the answer. If you are bold and clear in your purpose statement, you’ll find most clients trying to answer why they should use your firm instead of answering why they shouldn’t.
A peculiar mission is called a purpose statement, and I like to tell firm owners to begin it with “We exist to…” or just “We…” Bland purpose statements call no one to anything. But when you begin a relationship with “we exist to…” then the client has to put themselves in your category or move on. Bye bye. But, believe me, more often than not, humans want to be part of what you claim you are. Humans will fight to be the reason you exist. Your strong statements of mission call clients to you, instead of repelling them. This is a phenomenon misunderstood, but so powerful for firm owners making statements about their mission. Make your existence or purpose statement one sentence if you can, and make it about your main thing. ‘We exist to’ must be followed by one thing. Don’t use your how (processes and technology) or your what (services and people), but state your why. And try not to make your purpose statement inclusive to attract a certain type of client. Just allow it to reflect you, the creative owner. Let your short, succinct purpose statement attract who it was meant to attract (which will be more people than you realize). Our firm’s purpose statement is “we proactively lead clients to equip them for growth.” Every word means something. We need to fulfill this purpose for every client, and we struggle when we can’t (which means we may not be a good fit for that client).
While your mission statement is an external statement to the world, your values are more reflective of the mood or character of your internal firm. Your values are even further peculiar. If the mission statement is your client’s invitation to your party, then your values are how you party (in that weird way that you do). Some clients may not make it to your party because of your bold purpose statement, but the many who do come in can enjoy your firm in many different ways as declared by the values of your firm. You can still share your values with the world on your website, but they are more your internal behaviors that reflect the purpose of your firm. The core values are how you live out your purpose. And just like your purpose statement, your core values are also reflective of the creative peculiar owners leading the firm. They have to be. Your values are the seasoning sprinkled on your team and processes so they can go out and prove your mission. Your core values can be 5 to 7 words, short sentences, or phrases about the characteristics of who you are internally. A value may be “we eradicate the fear of tax work” or “we love every client” or “we collaborate, so we talk a lot.” Choose the 5 to 7 core relationships, behaviors, or beliefs that direct your team how to care for your clients when you, the owner, are not in the room. Here are our firm’s 5 core values:
Commitment leads to loyalty.
Collaboration leads to strength.
Confidence leads to initiative.
Humility leads to consideration.
Integrity leads to honesty.
In firm-building, working through the creation of your mission and values is everything. Everything starts here. Many dysfunctions, confusions and misdirections are developed as bad habits in firms because the leaders have failed to deeply consider their peculiar mission and values. However, they aren’t magic either. They won’t make you rich, and you really can’t get them wrong. It’s just an important step that will guide you through the continual process of building your firm. Go be weird, so the weirdos you need to serve will know you are their leader.
Jason is the Founder of Thriveal and the Chief Innovative Officer of his CPA firm, Blumer & Associates. He is the co-host of the Thrivecast and The Businessology Show and speaks and writes frequently for CPAs and creatives, his firm’s chosen niche. Jason loves to watch documentaries on just about anything. He lives in Greenville, SC with his wife and their three children.