Yesterday I received a “thank you” card from my friend Marc and his husband.
“Dear J, through your business coaching, you saved our relationship… you should also claim to be a marriage consultant for entrepreneurs. We are opening our 5th salon in the new year! We love you! You are sooo fabulous! M&R.”
I met Marc years ago at university in France. He dropped out to travel the world, then met his husband during his travels. Two years later, they decided to move to Paris and open their first hair salon. Marc was taking care of the business side of things and Rob was focused on the salon and hairdressing.
They were good, they were fashionable, fun and fabulous and their hair salon was in Le Marais (the epicentre of ‘fabulous’ in Paris). Pretty quickly, they became famous in their neighbourhood and got pretty busy. They opened their second and third salons within the next year. I met them right after they opened their third salon for a “fantastic haircut” because they said “Darling, your hair is awful, and something needs to happen”. And a “fabulous night out” had to follow because apparently, I looked depressed, as I was now a married mother and needed to be reminded of the good times!
The promised night out turned into a stay at home night with six bottles of wine and chat about their relationship. They were about to divorce. Literally. They were fighting hard about the business. They had not much life left, the business was sucking it all up, they kept hiring and firing every week, they were losing money because the three salons were not aligned, they were also losing long term clients who were following some of the fired members… Also, they had this client who was leaving horrible reviews all over the internet as they turned her hair into purple during the bleaching process (I’m afraid to say that part really made me laugh!).
Marc was accusing Rob. Rob was accusing Marc.
Normally, as a rule, I do not coach friends… but after two bottles of wine, I guess I proposed my help because three days later I received a mail to organise our first session of business coaching.
The first thing that I asked them was…
“What’s all this about”?
It took them four coaching sessions to remember why they were doing what they were doing. After many attempts in trying to write some fancy mission statement lines, Rob said “You know what? This is crap, I got into this business for FUN!” It was always about having fun and making people have fun during their “me” time. Marc agreed.
Fun was their WHY and the real reason things were going bad was that they were no longer having fun. This reflected onto the clients and team, and back on to business and them. The vicious cycle that killed the fun.
“Well, now I have the best homework for you guys” I said. “Let’s have fun! You will start to reinject fun into your business.” That one word created the core of their business mission and vision.
What happened to their business after this epiphany?
They brought fun to every corner of the business. From their branding to their language, to their hair salon, the people that they hired, the way they connected with their customers. Every single decision was focused around one question: will this keep the fun going? They refused to open another salon for two years because they understood that they needed to stabilise the first three to be able to keep the fun going. They organised their personal calendar in order to delegate all the ‘unfun’ stuff.
FUN was the best way for them to take their business to the next level. Today they have a total of four hair salons and they will open another new one next year. They won several awards last year and they have been attracting the best talents who click 100% with their ethos.
Okay, let me make one thing clear, what I have explained in a few hundred words took them around four months of brainstorming, writing, testing, discussing and redoing all of it again and again. That kind of crystallised “reason to be”, your “why”, your “purpose” whatever you want to call it, does not come easily. But when you find it, it becomes the true north of your business. It guides every single step in every single aspect of the business. That type of focus helps you gain efficiency by default because the decision making becomes easier.
Their epiphany ignited a lot of “aha” moments within me, allowing me to develop a simple framework to help people get there easier… I call it Focal Point.
My Focal Point framework
So here is how the Focal Point framework functions. This is a step-by-step, way of thinking process that will ignite some ideas and help you streamline the three big strategic lines of your business: your vision / your mission / your values as a solopreneur or micro-business owner.
Focal Point’s aim is to leave you with one word that resonates strongly as your why, your vision and your values. Just one word that you will be able to come back to in times of stress and doubt, but also growth and expansion.
Step 1: The Big picture
This step will allow you to describe the situation from your mission perspective.
Question 1: What do you do for a living?
This is a very simple question and there is no real trick. Just write what you do for a living. For example:
- I design brand assets for SMEs so that they can create a consistent and impactful image with their audience;
- I am a personal stylist; I help people choose their clothes to look their best;
- I am a copywriter; I help brands write their blogs in an impactful way to increase SEO;
- I am the owner of a hair and beauty salon…
You know who you are and what you do.
Question 2: What needs to change in your market?
This is a question that you should think about carefully. Not only from your personal perspective, or your audiences’ perspective but from a larger market point of view.
There are three main areas that you might want to change in your market:
1. The way things are done:
- SMEs often have great stories but do not have means to get in the radar of the press (solution: a virtual PR platform)
- A lot of business owners spend too much time with unimportant, admin work preventing them to focus on the important stuff (solution: a virtual assistance company)
2. A situation that your audience is facing:
- Women business owners don’t have access to networks and business knowledge which are key success factors in business growth (solution: Academy for Women Entrepreneurs!)
3. A world situation:
- People are more and more lonely and do not have time to connect and have fun with others anymore (solution: M&R Hair Salon, Paris)
Question 3. How will you change it?
This is the way you approach things that sets your solution or fit for the problem apart.
Here is how my friends Marc and Rob answered this question:
“From the design of our hair salons to the way we speak to our clients, we make sure to transform hairdressing into a fun and enjoyable experience of human connection.”
Step 2: Focus
This step will allow you to answer the question “what’s all this about?” and crystallise in one word your ‘why’.
Now it’s time to don your creative hats. This is when you need to flesh out different words, concepts that came up in the previous step and have a brainstorming session.
- Write as many words as you can, emerging from the previous questions.
- Choose one word that resonates the best.
- Test your word. Ask yourself how does that word impact the 5 Power Hubs of your business? Let’s take the word “FUN” as an example:
- Person: What does it mean to have FUN as the person who owns the business?
- Plan: What does it mean to build FUN in your business plan?
- Promotion: What does it mean to create FUN in your promotion?
- People: What does it mean to bring FUN for your audience and partners?
- Profit: What does it mean to bring FUN into your finances?
Step 3: Fire
This is when you apply all the above on your mission and vision statements.
Now that you have your focal point aligned with all the above, you can write your mission statement. Don’t forget, your mission statement is about the change that you want to achieve with your offer. It is the good that you believe you can bring into your audience’s life.
Using our same example here’s the mission statement from M&R hair salon:
“Transform the hair styling appointment into a joyful moment of fun and laughter.”
When you nail your mission statement you can move on to your vision statement: Your vision statement is about you, about your business. What kind of a business can bring the change that you want to bring? Where do you need to / want to take your business to be able to actualise your mission statement? How do you want to be perceived by your audience?
Their vision was: “To become the hair salon chain which defies all seriousness and be renowned for being the place to be if you want to pass great time while getting fabulous hair.”
Vision and mission statements are powerful tools. However, more often than not, in the world of SMEs they are either underused or not used at all (mostly because they are considered to be corporate practice) or they are very badly executed.
I believe that having a strong vision for your company, a heartfelt mission, and binding values will actually help you grow your company and impact your bottom line directly.
However, as I mentioned above, it is not simple to get clarity on these strategic directions and it is even more difficult if you are a solopreneur, as you have no one to share your ideas with. This article will help you ask the right questions and take an easy step-by-step approach.