DEFINE AND SHARE THE CORE VALUES OF YOUR SOCIAL ENTERPRISE
When I talk about MVP's two things typically spring to mind - athletes and tech companies. You may picture Peyton Manning (insert your own favorite quarterback name here - I happen to be a Broncos fan) holding up the Super Bowl trophy or your favorite Olympian stepping up on the medals platform where they are honored as MVPs or Most Valuable Players.
You may also be familiar with the abbreviation MVP when it stands for Minimum Viable Product, a concept made popular in the tech world. This kind of MVP, made famous among entrepreneurs from the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, means when developing a new product you create the product with the minimum features to be salable (or in minimal amounts for a physical inventory item) in order to test it to a small set of early adopters. The final, complete product is adapted according to feedback or abandoned if it is not financially viable.
Both of these types of MVP's are important to your company. Most Valuable Players (or persons) to champion your cause and make things happen. Minimum Viable Products to make sure you are providing products people want and keeping your company fiscally strong. But what I mean by an MVP is the blueprint for your company's values. You need to know your Mission, Vision, and Purpose in order to create a business that can make both an income and an impact.
Many companies, as well as non-profits, roll these concepts into one mission or vision statement but the concepts are not fully interchangeable. Here is how I define each of the three elements of an MVP:
Your mission is simply what or how you do what you do. This directs your actions, the actions of your team, and makes it clear to the world what your business is all about. Here is an example: "We design unique handbags masterfully crafted from handwoven textiles that employ women rescued from the sex trade, which provides them with a sustainable income and freedom to control their lives and livelihoods; delighting our customers with unique products and a simple way to make a big impact on women’s lives.” Simply put, this is what you do and who you do it for. But it is born out of your vision, or how you wish to change the world.
Different from your mission, or what you do, your vision is how you want to see the world. This is your world-changing statement, your line in the sand, your challenge to yourself and your customers. Your vision is the world as you want it. Example: “We want to live in a world where everyone is free, with no threat of trafficking or enslavement, and can provide for themselves and their families using their time and talents to fully pursue their dreams.” Your vision tells the world how things might be different you achieve your mission.
This one is personal. Purpose is your why. Why you care enough about changing the world to do what you do. You must have a purpose (why) statement for your company. You should also ask yourself and your team why you/they are committed to the company's cause. Here's the purpose statement to finish our MVP example: “Upon learning that girls and women were forcibly sold into sex slavery every day, we were compelled to be a voice and a partner for women rescued from slavery and to work to prevent the trafficking of all human beings.” This is why you get up every day and take on the new challenges before you. Put this on a Post-It note where you can see it. Purpose gets you through the work (like lots of spreadsheets) that might not feel as world-changing. Purpose reminds you that even the little things add up to make a big difference.
As simple as these three statements sound, writing them often takes serious thought, time, and teamwork. Chose each word carefully because you will use these words to guide your brand and more importantly you decision making. You will hold business opportunities up to the measuring stick of your MVP to be sure they fit within your mission, vision, and purpose. Your customers will engage with you based on how your MVP fits with their personal beliefs. They will both love you for it and hold you accountable for it. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Then put your words into action in your own world-changing way!