Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On a Mission

You might remember last week, I dug out my five year old business plan and wrote about it at this link: So What's the Plan?.

This week, I want to talk about the mission statement. Even though the mission statement is placed close to the beginning of a business plan, I think it is nearly impossible to write the mission statement before researching other areas of the business plan: finances, marketing, selling venues, and the like. The mission statement should be the glue that holds the whole plan together.

My mission statement from five years ago was to design and manufacture heirloom-quality fabric art Story Quilts to commemorate important life events: weddings, civil unions, births, graduations, deaths, anniversaries and other special occasions. I planned to use traditional and contemporary quilting techniques, vibrant color schemes and quality materials to create personalized, one-of-a-kind story quilts or pillows. I wanted to invite customers to participate in the selection of colors, symbols and overall design. A "sojourn" is a "resting place along life's journey," so I wanted to provide my customers with a change to reflect upon and honor their own remarkable life experiences.

In theory, the idea was--and still is--a good one. In practice, for me, anyway, it did not work out. I found marketing and pricing story quilts very difficult. To make a living at story quilts (the way I envisioned them), I needed to be willing to produce a lot at a moderate price or produce a select few at a premium price. After trying a few--and really undervaluing my time and talent--I decided I would rather make these for friends and family (free, as a gift from the heart) than sell them below what I thought they were worth.

With this realization, I started actively searching for something quilt-related I liked to make--that still seemed like "me" (personally, as a business owner, and artistically)--and fit better with the selling venues I was pursuing at the time.

Since my experimentation...er..."market research"...with products and selling venues will lead me to my current mission statement, I am going to hold off talking about that until I write about the rest of the business plan.

More about selling venues next time.


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