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The importance of a clear Mission/Purpose is not readily understood by the average entrepreneur. Most are driven by the desire to share their particular talent with customers. This is the basis of their business building. Of course, the product or service must be there before considering the building of a business anyway.

Owners of businesses that prevail know they should define parameters for their operations to keep it going the way they intended. A Mission/Purpose is the first large parameter that must be defined. Great founders carefully design a Mission/Purpose to include a broad definition of why the company was formed. It must be broad to allow for the changing environment and it’s effect on how the product/service will be delivered.

Delta air lines’ Mission and Values offer excellent examples of how broad descriptions can build a legacy.

Delta Air Lines Mission Statement: “We—Delta’s employees, customers, and community partners together form a force for positive local and global change, dedicated to bettering standards of living and the environment where we and our customers live and work.”

Two key things you’ll realize about Delta’s statement is it doesn’t specify a particular product or method and doesn’t limit the scope of the services. This statement allows them to do whatever it takes to fulfill this broad Mission. This is an example of an excellent Mission statement because it has the following characteristics.

First, it sets boundaries that all affiliates can honor. When you are designing or improving operations, the boundaries that your Mission has set will provide a strong framework for containing your decisions. You know which actions that will fit and will not fit.

Second, it helps with hiring and performance management. When performing the required business tasks, it’s very helpful to have some guidelines that have been well established. Your hiring and performance management issues should be aligned with your entrepreneurial intentions. Some employees join businesses because of the business’ special Mission.

Third, it’s a basis for strategy that is not effected by outside forces. It is driven by your organizational intentions. It is unique to your desire as a new business offering.

Fourth, it provides inspiration for commitment and continuous improvement. A good Mission is inspirational and solicits positive emotions from the affiliates because they really believe in it.

After a strong Mission/Purpose is set, the next building block of a lasting enterprise is to design and live by a strong set of Core Values.

As described in Deltas’ Rules of The Road, “strong core values and a clear set of unifying behaviors provide a solid foundation for delta’s culture. Our values are the basis for everything we do. When delta people encounter situations, they use their values and professionalism, along with training and experience to guide their actions and decisions. Our Rules of the Road are timeless.”

Delta’s Rules of the Road:

I. Apply our Basic Business Principles

II. Know our Business and Improve It Constantly

III. Demonstrate Honesty, Integrity and Respect

IV. Drive for Results

V. Build Great Teams

Delta’s Core Values (basic business principles):

Always tell the truth- Honesty

Always keep your deals- IntegrIty

Don’t hurt anyone- Respect

Try harder than all our competitors—never give up- Perseverance

Care for our customers, our community and each other- servant leadership

Again, excellent examples of Core Values and their accompanying behaviors because they share the following characteristics:

First, Core Values help you make good business decisions. For example, if it’s necessary to purchase supplies and the quality of what is available is less than perfect, you would reject them (even at a lower price) because they violate your business Value of high standards, integrity or excellence. You don’t want your product or service affected.

Second, Core Values educate customers and future employees. They know what to expect from your company and may seek you out because of your Values.

Third, Core Values are fundamental. That is, this is one thing that the changing environment won’t alter. Your clearly defined Values should remain the same throughout the life of your business.

As a business owner, you must clearly define your Mission/Purpose and Values for durability. However, you are additionally required to strongly believe in them for these elements to become embedded in your enterprise for sustainable business growth.

More on designing Mission/Purpose and Values in: “20 Directive for Small Business Success: Do or Die”