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Last Update: Monday July 26, 2021

Key Idea: Communicate Your Vision

Hattie introduces us to business owners with staying power.  First, meet our veteran entrepreneur, Jim Schell. He says you need a vision and a mission statement.   More...   Please note:  There is more from Jim here:
Understand your financials,   Selling the business, and  Opportunity Knocks.

Key Question:


People who start a business have more in mind than just making money. For example, Jim Morris started selling art on a t-shirt to raise money for environmental causes and Anne Beiler of Auntie Anne's Pretzels started a business to finance her husband's missionary work. Not every business appears to be cause-oriented on the surface, but, if you look behind the scenes of good companies, you find a mission statement which has to do with service, making people's lives better, etc. We know it is possible for small businesses to be mission driven whereas it is difficult for big companies. Big companies have many layers of leadership between the CEO and the people who actually touch customers. So, being mission-driven is a huge competitive advantage we small business owner have over the big guys. If you don't capitalize on this opportunity, your work is much harder.

Jim Schell spoke of developing a vision and mission statement. What is the difference?

A:  Having a vision means you can see in your mind's eye what doesn't exist today. The mission is your statement of purpose, the way you are reaching toward the vision. President Kennedy's vision was to put a man on the moon. The mission became to provide science with the tools necessary to make the vision a reality.

The vision you have is the way you want things to be, not the way they are now. This is the primary source of inspiration to small business owners. We are operating today believing that the future will look as it does in our imagination. The old story about the two brick layers explains: One brick layer is asked what he is doing today and he says, "I'm laying brick." Another brick layer is asked the same question and he says, "I'm building a cathedral." The second laborer has the vision, the first does not. If you can only see what is real, you should probably not start a business. What is your vision for your business?

In just one sentence, how would you answer the question, "Why are you in this business?' When people ask me what we do, I say, "we are independent producers who create a television program called SmallBusinessSchool. It airs on most PBS-member stations. Our purpose is to change the way America defines hero and to tell the truth about how business works from the inside out." Our purpose is our mission.

The "why" behind what you do will give you the clues you need to write a mission statement. The "what you want the world to look like" down the road will give you the clues to write a vision statement. Albert Black's mission for starting a business was to create work for the people of his neighborhood. His vision was to see his employees become affluent. Today, when you arrive at the headquarters of his company, you'll see Volvos and BMWs in the parking lot. The reason this is so movtivating is, he grew up in low-income housing and saw what not working does to the souls of people.

Think about it

What is the purpose of your business? What do you want to be able to say you accomplished 20 years from now?

Clip from: Staying Power

Key Questions about business: What makes a business work?  Why do some make it while so many fail?  And, in the USA, why are there so many business start-ups every year?  How does a business make it beyond the first year? ...third year? ...and fifth year? These are benchmarks. Milestones. Most startups do not get past them.

So, when these veteran entrepreneurs answer the question, "How did you do it?," there is a lot to learn.

This television special outlines the common qualities found in companies that make profits for decades.

Go to all the key ideas and video of this episode...
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Opportunity Knocks

Jim Schell, Founder / CEO

PO Box 9073
Bend, OR 97708
541 317 9490

Visit our web site:

Office: 541 317 9490

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1999

Communicate Your Vision

HATTIE: Let's look at each of these.

Number 1: A leader with a vision who is able to communicate it to others.

Jim Schell has started and sold four businesses. When one of his companies reached 250 employees, he realized he had lost sight of his original purpose.

JIM SCHELL (Bend, Oregon): Visions change as companies change. I hired a consultant an dhe comes to work with us in a strategic meeting. We were having a strategic planning meeting. When he gets our eight or 10 key managers into a meeting and he says, `OK, gang,' he says, `We've got eight or 10 people here. I want each of you to write down what your company's vision is and what your mission is.' And I'm thinking, 'I'm paying a consultant for this? Give me a break.' So they all write down. When we're all done, he says, `OK, tell me what you wrote.' And, around the room we go and everybody had a different idea of what our vision was.

Everybody had a different idea of what our mission was. How can you all be going in the same direction if you don't know what direction that is, right?

And from that point forward, we started to try and develop a vision and mission between our managers that made sense for our company that made sense for the time. Dreams and missions change particularly in a small business because we are moving fast. Then we had to communicate to employees so that everybody knows wherer we are going.

HATTIE: OK. But after you determined that you agreed on the statement, does productivity increase, do profits improve? What happens?

JIM: Well does it help on vacation to have a road map? Do you get there quicker? It's a focus issue. Everybody becomes focused on the same things and everybody is going in the same direction and hopefully we all get there at the same time.

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