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While it might seem like the monster under the bed, a clear and simple strategy is the key to growth and freedom.  (And it’s really more of a comforting teddy-bear when you get to know it!).

You’ve no doubt built your business based on your skills, interest and talent in landscaping. You’ve likely made some mistakes along the way, but you’ve definitely done a great job getting to where you are now.  It’s not uncommon for owners of small businesses to realise they’re spending most of their time ‘in’ the business rather than ‘on’ it and this can be limiting.

To get beyond these points, it’s important to have a clear strategy about where you’re headed and how you want to get there.  The process of determining these overarching goals includes many steps, the first of which is to be clear on:

  • Who you are as a business – what do you do and what don’t you do?
  • What drives you and is important to you – what do you stand for?
  • What you want to achieve for your clients – what difference will you make in their lives?
  • How you want to work – and live, for that matter?

In other words, you need to be crystal clear on your mission, vision and values.

Isn’t that just corporate bs?

It sounds like it, yes, but actually, when you do the work to get clear on these fundamentals, you ultimately save yourself a lot of time thinking (over-thinking?) about daily/weekly/monthly decisions, making poor choices and wasting time, money and reputation.

This is because your mission, vision and values (MVV) collectively outline your business’s reason for being.  If a strategy is the foundation, these three elements are the form-work which gives the foundation its shape.


Imagine a prospective client comes along and asks you to undertake some work which you don’t usually do, and which would require you to invest (in people/equipment/training) in order to do well.  This is a one-off piece of business, based in the Upper Hunter for a mining company.  The profit you stand to make is big. Do you take it on?  Maybe.  But how do you make that call?  You  refer to your MVV.  This framework acts like one of those block toys little kids play with where they have to fit the various shapes of blocks into the corresponding-shaped holes.  Here’s an example:

Your MVV looks like this:

Mission: To lead the Sydney market in innovative and sustainable landscaping.

Vision: A living environment which brings joy to its community and uses innovation to ensure sustainability for future generations.

Values: Minimal footprint.  Reduce/Reuse/Recycle where possible.  Find a better way every time. Honesty and integrity in everything we do.  Serve our community.

On this basis, the opportunity ‘blocks’ don’t fit the MVV ‘holes’.  The answer is a pretty clear ‘no’: The job isn’t in Sydney, it supports an industry which doesn’t share our values, its only potential up-side is in profit – which is not a key driver of our business decisions, according to our MVV.

But I hate to miss an opportunity!

Yep, I get that.  It’s easy to be persuaded by the prospect of profit or another shiny object.  But in the long run, you will achieve much greater success if you stick to what you’re good at and what you find joy in doing.  That’s where the on-going profit is too.

How do I figure out my MVV?

Lots of clear thought – and a good guide!  We’ve prepared this MVV Cheat Sheet to help you through the process.  Once you’ve got this set, you’re ready to work on the 3-year strategy for your business and then your 12-month action plan.  Turn that monster into a teddy-bear and the sky’s the limit!


Written by Julie Krieger, for onsombleSubscribe for more small business wisdom.


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