Why You Should Challenge Your Company's Core Identity
The first business Rhythm in the CEO Coaching International Making BIG Happen System pushes CEOs and entrepreneurs to challenge their company’s core identity. Right now, that self-reflection is more critical than ever. Even companies with proven market fit and a scalable model need to put themselves under the microscope. If not, you risk falling out of step with a rapidly changing workforce, consumer base, and business environment.
Here are the six aspects of core identity within a successful business, along with eight tools that we’ve designed to help companies rediscover what they can be and make BIG happen.
The single most important question that a CEO can ask is, “What do I want?” You need to set a high bar and visualize it.
Our entrepreneur coaching clients typically use The Crystal Ball Tool at the beginning of every year to answer that question and set a 12-month goal. You can use the same tool to challenge core identity by lengthening the timeline. Instead of looking a year out, look 3, 5, or 10 years ahead. You’re celebrating because you achieved … what? What is the specific and measurable outcome, and what were the specific and measurable leading activities that got you to that outcome?
Once you can see that bright future, you need to figure out how to express that vision in a compelling way that will align your whole organization. Our Vision Worksheet provides a simple structure for building a meaningful vision statement for your company. By connecting the dots between your timeframe, key component, and target goal, you’ll be able to articulate your BIG vision in a way that is succinct, ambitious, and inspirational.
Unlike your long-term Vision, your Mission is focused on the present and describes the human value of what your company does. It’s an internal and external statement that tells your team and the rest of the world why what you do matters, and therefore why accomplishing your vision matters. If your mission is simply to make more money, chances are you will never make BIG happen because you will make money-based decisions instead of value-creating decisions.
For example, CEO Coaching International client Kerry Siggins decided that making money in the outdated industrial cleaning sector just wasn’t BIG enough. So she refocused her company, StoneAge, around a new mission: change the industry’s safety standards. By leading that change, StoneAge put employee safety and innovation ahead of immediate growth, which, in turn, allowed Kerry to position the company as a leader in her industry’s next wave. That’s the kind of mission that attracts and retains top talent.
Answer the four questions in our Mission Worksheet to create a powerful mission of your own:
- What is the customer benefit?
- Who is the potential market?
- How does the product or service work?
- Why are you doing what you do?
3. Company Culture
Great culture can be a company accelerator. Bad culture can create a toxic disaster.
Much like Vision and Mission, a Culture that’s oriented around money is never going to accomplish anything BIG. If your employees feel like profit and growth are their only goals, they’re going to cut corners — or worse — to keep the numbers they’re responsible for trending up.
An outstanding example of growing a positive culture is CEO Coaching International client TaskUs. As a customer support company, TaskUs recognized that its most valuable asset was the people answering those phone calls and solving problems for customers. That’s why they obsess about their employee experience as much as their customer experience, offering superb benefits and a first-class office environment.
TaskUs also monitors that employee experience by tracking and measuring their Employee Net Promoter Score via an annual survey to their global workforce. In 2019, Glassdoor named TaskUs one of the 50 best places to work, as rated by its own employees.
If you have not yet established the core values of your company, the word bank and ranking system in our Core Values Builder will help to systematically determine what your core values should be. Use these values to guide your decision making, engage your employees, and build out more robust rules and policies for your workplace.
We’ve also developed a Culture Survey so that you can start gathering, tracking, and measuring what your employees see as your company’s strengths and weaknesses.
4. Unique Value Proposition
In 2009, CEO Coaching International’s Jaime Szulc was Levi’s global chief marketing officer for the Levi Strauss brand. For 75 years, Levi’s had used the same simple measurement to size women’s jeans— waist circumference. However, based on new qualitative and quantitative market research, Levi’s developed an innovative Curve ID Fit System that matched their jeans to body types, setting itself apart from every other brand on the rack.
When CEO Coaching International’s Jerry Swain was building Jer’s Chocolates, he used premium ingredients, innovative keepsake packaging, and his personal charitable mission to land a spot on QVC, a real rarity in the competitive gourmet foods market.
Many businesses try to be everything to everyone. Great leaders like Jaime and Jerry understand that a value proposition has to be uniquely targeted and specific in order to stand out and attract customers.
However, having a UVP isn’t enough. You have to leverage that proposition into a real competitive advantage by orienting your business around the activities that support and drive your UVP. That could be R&D investments that spur innovation and keep your products on the bleeding edge. Or it could be top-notch training for new customer service hires.
Our Unique Value Proposition Identifier uses a four-step press to help you get clear on the service or product attributes that are most important to your customers. Use that clarity to strengthen the connection between your resources, your end products or services, and your customer’s needs.
5. HOTs (Huge Outrageous Targets)
A Huge Outrageous Target (HOT) is a goal so big and so outrageous that it sparks a fire in your team. It’s the one goal (or at most, two) that matters most. Having a compelling HOT that drives toward your vision and aligns with your mission is the rocket fuel to propel your team to think BIG. But your HOT also helps you achieve clarity by pointing to the KPIs that are going to drive you towards your goal and the people you need behind the wheel.
Just how BIG should you be thinking? Pick the HOT that would have the greatest impact on your business and lead to exponential growth within a specified timeframe. Anything too grandiose or flat-out unrealistic won’t fulfill those requirements.
Setting a HOT can be an iterative process, which is why our HOT Trajectory Tool breaks down a long-term goal into specific milestones your company needs to hit on the way to BIG. Remember, a good HOT isn’t just BIG, it’s SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
6. Organization of the Future
Once you have refined the first five aspects of your core identity, it’s time to start looking a little further ahead. And as you think about your company’s future, you’re going to realize two important truths:
- You have outgrown the skills of key people that you have relied on to get you to this point.
- You are missing whole new skillsets that you did not need in earlier stages of growth.
Use the Organization of the Future tool to identify those skillsets and build out an org chart for the company you want to have — or need to have — in order to take the next step.
The company you design with this tool should be so inspiring that you’ll want to accelerate your timeline and start filling these seats sooner rather than later. Some of our entrepreneur coaching clients even hold semi-regular interviews for positions that don’t exist yet or aren’t technically open. Even if you don’t decide to sprint ahead right now, just think of this interview exercise as a dress rehearsal for your company’s next chapter. You’ll be expanding your horizons, absorbing outside perspectives on your company, and sending a message to your existing team that anyone who isn’t bringing their A-game every day might not have a place in the company’s tomorrow.
The Make BIG Happen System
Learn more about the proven methodology for CEOs, entrepreneurs, presidents and founders of companies that helps them drive extraordinary growth in their businesses. The rhythms, the questions and the tools are all explained.
Keep Making BIG Happen
After establishing the core identity of your business, it is important to re-examine these six key aspects at least every other year and make any necessary adjustments. We’ve all seen in the last two years what happens to companies that get complacent or lose touch with what made them successful in the first place. Put your identity, your values, your team, and your goals to the test regularly and you’ll always be on the path to Making BIG Happen.
To preview our tools and for more on how our proven best practices can transform your company, click here to order Making BIG Happen.
About Mark Moses
Mark Moses is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International and the Amazon Bestselling author of Make BIG Happen. Mark has won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Company in Los Angeles as well as #10 on the Inc. 500 of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. He has completed 12 full distance Ironman Triathlons including the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 5 times.
About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 67.8% during their time as a client, nearly four times the U.S. average and a revenue CAGR of 25.5%, more than twice the U.S. average.