The Mission, Vision and Values of Country Fried Creative (and why that matters)
Next year our company will celebrate its 20th Anniversary. Founded in 2003 as Southside Consulting, the company was originally just me trying to figure out how I could help people with small web and IT projects. Over the years, our focus changed. For several years before the recession of 2009-2011, we became part of the AIS Computers family. Although AIS is still part of our legal company name, we decided to rebrand in 2011 and became what’s now known as Country Fried Creative (CFC). Those first 10 years of business were all about getting started, trying new things, and adjusting business strategies. In a future post, we’ll share more about our company history with you.
Once we became Country Fried Creative, our firm changed focus from just being a technical firm to also being a creative firm. Technical solutions need creativity and creativity requires a technical basis in order to thrive. Our original service offering, web design and development, requires both creative and technical skills. Even now, the two organization departments in our company are the Creative Team and the Technical Team. The rebranding was very popular and resonated with our local market. That popularity helped our firm to grow our reach and our team.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, our firm did well. The scientist in me wanted to know why we did well, despite challenging economic and political conditions. It caused me and our leadership team to do some introspection. The process of introspection gave us the opportunity to do some deep thinking about what really mattered. It caused us to be more specific about what we were doing and, more importantly, what was our raison d’être (reason for being). Despite having run the business for almost 20 years without them (my MBA professors wouldn’t approve), we decided to develop a written Mission, Vision, and Values (MVV) Statement for our company. At the beginning of the year we unveiled it to our team and have begun the process of communicating that to the community. Here’s what we came up with:
OUR MISSION (our overall goal):
To provide creative and effective marketing solutions which help our clients realize their marketing goals.
OUR VISION (our desired outcome):
Foster meaningful online connections that make the community better for all concerned.
Why does the above matter and why communicate them now? Great questions.
The mission helps us clarify what we’re doing to our growing team and to our expanding client base. When someone asks us, “What do you do?” the answer is our mission statement. Unlike some organizations, we do not try to be all things to all people. We realize our strengths and weaknesses, so communicating what we do is important. It’s just as important as communicating what we don’t do. Within reason, we try to help all people. If our firm doesn’t have the skills to help someone, we make efforts to refer that person to someone who can help. In fact, that leads us to our vision.
The vision helps us define what kind of outcome we seek. Unlike the mission which communicates what we do and our goal from a business perspective, the vision provides a broader picture of what we’re all about. It speaks more to why we do what we do. Like many professional services firms, I’d say that less than half of what we do is billable to a client. Many large consulting companies are all about billable hours. We recognize that we’re part of a community and it’s important to participate in community building, whether that leads to revenue or not. Fostering connections will happen through our digital marketing services, but that also happens when we do non-billable engagement by supporting a non-profit event, networking at a Chamber of Commerce function, or meeting new people in the community. It’s in everyone’s best interest to make the community better for all concerned, even if money isn’t involved. Speaking of money (or the lack thereof), we also felt it was time to clarify our values.
Our values are the principles that guide our business. Internally, they provide clarity about how to act and handle things. Some things we do are very well defined with task lists that we call “recipes”. Many other things we do are vague and not well defined. Clients sometimes struggle to articulate what they want. Our values provide guidance on how to treat people and tasks whether or not we have a specific recipe or procedure to handle them. We’re a small firm and I trust our team to make the right decisions, but we do need a basis and framework to guide decision making. Articulating our values also helps our community know what’s important to our team. When our values align with someone else, there’s an instant connection. I’d like to think our values are fairly universal and non-controversial. Yet, the realist in me knows that not everyone thinks alike. We’ve run into people who are obsessed about profits. That’s fine for them – but it’s not us and frankly isn’t part of our value system. We’re a business, but people matter more than numbers. We’ve also run into people are aren’t happy and don’t appear to want to be happy. I’ve often told our team that we want to work with clients who have the potential to be delighted. In short, we make every attempt to have a relaxed, but professional vibe – business casual, if you will.
So why communicate this now? Well, the world is full of more information than ever before. Some of that information is good and trustworthy, but much of it is noise and just plain wrong. In order to clarify our identity both internally and externally, we felt like it was time to take a stand by stating our intentions and how we operate. We want you to get to know us and we hope to get to know you all better. We feel like having a written Mission, Vision, and Values is the right thing to do.
In closing, I’d like to announce that we are formally re-launching our blog. Our blog will be grounded in the spirit of the Mission, Vision, and Values above. This is the first of many blog posts that will communicate things of potential interest – what we’re doing, highlighting what some of you are doing, some practical marketing tips, suggestions on how to be more effective, lessons learned from 20 years of business ownership, and much more.
It’s been a great adventure for our first 20 years of existence. We invite you to join us on the journey for the next 20 years and let’s see what kind of awesome things we can do for our community together.