IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

My MSP's Mission and Vision

My Mission/Vision Statements - 1995 to today.

We get mail . . . 

Marty asked me a simple question recently: What was my mission statement at KPEnterprises (my first managed service business)?

Like most small businesses, my first company was founded with no mission statement. I wanted to make money. I knew I could design and build networks. I knew I could learn new technologies. I knew I could consult on business and on strategy. So I started trading dollars for hours. Of course things evolved over time.

I founded KPE in 1995. But I'm a reader. So I gobbled up a few hundred business books, and thousands of hours of audio while driving all over town. And within a few years, I started actually working on my vision and mission. (Side note: The luckiest thing that ever happened to me in business is that someone recommended The Emyth Revisited to me when I first started my first business.)

All that started to come together at the end of 1999 and beginning of 2000. And that, coincidentally, is when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. So, I was going through a very difficult and extremely painful personal journey while growing my business and getting my arms around a meaningful mission.

Definitions

Everyone has a slightly different take on these things. To me, a vision statement is literally what the future will look like. And the mission statement defines what it takes to make that vision come true. So the two are definitely related.

Here is the KPEnterprises discussion of Mission from our 2005 business plan. At this time, I was preparing to publish my first book for IT consultants. The company was growing nicely, and had six employees.

About the same time, I laid out my personal values, vision, and mission in the book Relax Focus Succeed. These are essentially unchanged today. The following is on the bulletin board next to my writing/reading desk in my study:

1.  My Values and Principles

  • Honesty, Integrity
  • Fairness
  • Good Personal Relationships
  • Healthy Life/Long Life
  • Helping Others

2.  My Vision

  • My vision is to inspire success through a balance of serving myself and serving others.
  • My motivations are:
    • Accomplish things
    • Relax
    • Heal
    • Help my family and other people
    • Grow personally and professionally
  • Notes on My Vision:
    • My vision is not to reach a point and then stop.  I want to be the kind of person who can simply continue doing what I enjoy forever.
    • I want to combine the “Me at work” with the “Me as father,” “Me as an individual,” “Me as a moral being,” etc.
    • I don’t want to be an atomistic, schizophrenic person.  I don’t want to behave one way in church and another at work.
    • I have goals for the various parts of my life, but they complement each other, they don’t fight each other.

Skip ahead a bit. In 2010, KPEnterprises had grown quite a bit. Great Little Book Publishing had been spun off as a separate company (now operating with the dba Small Biz Thoughts). I owned two companies with about fifteen employees operating out of the same office space. We had moved 100% of our clients to managed services and our largest fifteen clients to our cloud "five pack" offering. 

The 2010 KPEnterprises business plan had the following notes on the mission statement:

All of which, in case you're interested, brings us to the mission of Small Biz Thoughts.

My current company, Small Biz Thoughts, runs an online membership community and a training company dedicated to IT consultants. We are also a bit of a "media" company, publishing my books, blogs, podcasts, videos, and whatever else I can think of. And we provide some services to vendors in the space, primarily through advertising or speaking at events.

We have three W2 employees, including myself. We also have three 1099 contractors who work for us all the time. And, because it's the 21st Century, we have about five more contractors who work for us on an as-needed basis.

From our 2022 business plan:

Mission

Our Mission is simple and powerful: We help IT professionals to be more successful on the business side of their business.

Ultimately, Small Biz Thoughts seeks to change the SMB IT industry through information and thought leadership. These are accomplished through writing, speaking, education, and activism intended to redefine the industry to make it more honest, more competent, and more professional.

This mission is built on Karl Palachuk’s personal Values and Principles:

  • Honesty, Integrity
  • Fairness
  • Good Personal Relationships
  • Healthy Life/Long Life
  • Helping Others

And Karl’s personal motivations:

  • Accomplish things
  • Relax
  • Heal
  • Help my family and other people
  • Grow personally and professionally

And, just for completeness, here's the code of ethics in our business plan:

Code of Ethics

Small Biz Thoughts (Great Little Book, IT Service Provider University, SBT, SMB Community Podcast, etc.) is fundamentally a company designed around the concept of helping others to be successful. We literally exist to help as many people as possible to be successful. To that end, we have adopted the following Code of Ethics to drive our behavior and interactions inside and outside our company.

  • We are honest. In our work with clients, prospects, and strangers, we are committed to honesty at all levels. This drives several elements of our behavior.
  • We are competent. That means we know what we’re doing, or we don’t do it. It also means that we are constantly dedicated to learning new things. We are committed to never-ending education in a world that is always changing.
  • We only work with people we like. This includes employees, clients, vendors, distributors, advertisers, etc. We treat everyone with respect, both publicly and behind closed doors. In turn, we insist that the people we work with treat us and others with respect.
  • We are committed to work-life balance. Relax Focus Succeed. We certainly work hard, but we are committed to giving our employees time to relax, charge their batteries, and then come back to work with renewed creativity and productivity.
  • We are fair, professional, and compassionate. This is a bit like the “golden rule” of a service business. We treat everyone (employees, clients, vendors, etc.) as we would like to be treated. We remember every day that we are people working with people.
  • We are committed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Of course we work hard not to discriminate. But beyond that, we are committed to making everyone feel welcome to show up as their whole selves. This approach welcomes a great variety of “different-ness” and creativity to work its way into our daily operations.

-- -- --

Some people doubt the sincerity of some or all of this. I honestly don't care. I believe that people who work with me and Small Biz Thoughts find that we "walk the talk." 

Yes, we want to make money. But our focus is on service, with the belief that money will follow. 

Starting way back in 2000, I have had people who belittle me and my companies from time to time for thinking small and not collecting piles of cash. I've had people dismiss me because I run a "lifestyle" business instead of a business focused on squeezing the last dollar out of every prospect.

But here's the important piece for me: I am happy.

When there's no intergalactic pandemic, I travel to five or six countries a year, on at least two or three continents. I live where I want, eat what I want, drink what I want. I have friends all over the world. Almost everything in my life is completely free of stress.

I jokingly tell people, "If you could be anybody, you'd want to be me." But it's true. After more than twenty-five years of running businesses the way I want to run them, I have built exactly the life I want.

Many of you have heard me say these words from the stage:

A small business exists to fulfill the dreams and desires of the owners.

My business fulfills my dreams. And therefore, I declare it a success.

-- -- -- 

What's YOUR mission?

:-)

About the Author

Karl W. Palachuk, is a technology consultant, author, speaker, trainer, and coach. He is the author of fifteen books. He has built several successful businesses, including two managed services companies. His books include Managed Services in a Month and The Network Documentation Workbook. Karl is a frequent trainer and speaker in the SMB Community. His popular blog can be found at SmallBizThoughts.com. He has more than twenty years experience as an I.T. professional and serves on advisory panels for several hardware and software companies.

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