Translating Your Tech Company’s Mission Into a Purpose That Motivates Your Employees

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“Why do you love your job?”

As we continue to grow at a rapid clip, I find myself in many interviews, speaking with many prospective new hires. As we near the end of each interview, this is one of the most common questions I receive.  Fortunately, it is an easy one for me to answer.  I love my job for three reasons: I believe in our mission, I really enjoy what I do every day, and I also really enjoy who I work with.  If I didn’t have those three things in my corner, I would never have lasted 15+ years.  I don’t know how anyone would.

Of those three things, it is hard to say which is the most important; it may even fluctuate day to day.  They are all essential.  But at the very beginning of Capterra, there was no established day-to-day, and there wasn’t a gaggle of other people.  Yet there was a mission.  The mission marked the beginning.  One could argue that it marks the beginning of any endeavor.  It’s impossible to overstate the importance of mission.  If you don’t believe in the point of what you are doing, then how do you motivate yourself to keep doing it day after day, month after month, year after year? The mission of a company is what enables its workers to have a sense of purpose. And I believe that a sense of purpose is critical to truly feel connected to your work and wanting to do whatever it takes to make your company succeed.  It answers the “why” question.

company mission

We’ve all heard of mission statements. The problem with most mission statements is that they often become so over-edited that they eventually lose all ability to resonate with the people that matter most – the people that working full-time for the company.  Here are a few examples I found online:

“Profitable growth through superior customer service, innovation, quality and commitment.”

“Guided by relentless focus on our five imperatives, we will constantly strive to implement the critical initiatives required to achieve our vision. In doing this, we will deliver operational excellence in every corner of the Company and meet or exceed our commitments to the many constituencies we serve. All of our long-term strategies and short-term actions will be molded by a set of core values that are shared by each and every associate.”

“To be the premier provider of targeted specialized insurance products and related services in North America and selected other markets.”

Are you kidding me?  Suffice it to say, I’m not particularly motivated by any of those.

Some organizations have it easy when it comes to getting everyone behind their mission.  Schools, medical practices, and charities are all about educating children, healing the sick, or serving the needy.  Who can’t both understand and get excited about those missions?

But what about the rest of us?  What about tech companies like Capterra? Capterra’s mission is a bit more complicated…a little more difficult to see at first glance.  Put simply, we’re all about bringing the power of software to companies and organizations all over the world, which in turn helps them to accomplish their missions. Breaking that down further, it involves the following five premises:

1. Companies exist to help people and make the world a better place. Millions of companies – including schools, medical practices, charities, construction firms, restaurants, salons, churches, manufacturers, stores, law firms, plumbers, wineries, clubs, you name it – from around the world are in business to help others.

While some of the companies listed above occasionally or even constantly do bad things, the vast majority of them are a force for good.  Their mission is to truly help others, deliver great products and services, and make the world a better place in whatever way they can – large or small.

2. All companies are constantly challenged to be more effective and efficient. Operating these companies often involves large inefficiencies.  Running payroll, managing relationships with customers, generating reports, keeping the books accurate, running projects, organizing training initiatives, managing marketing campaigns – all these things can quickly become complicated, time consuming, and tedious.

3. The right software helps make operating a business much easier. The streamlined processes and automation offered through software save time, save money, and enables companies to either do the same amount of work with fewer resources or more work with the same amount of resources.

By making companies more effective and/or efficient, software helps them to better accomplish their missions and help more people.

4. Buying the right business software is complicated and fraught with pitfalls. It often involves multiple stakeholders, requirements can be difficult to determine, and there are often hundreds of different choices.

Most business software purchases are, therefore, if not outright failures, suboptimal.  The business either picked the wrong product for their situation, or the way it was implemented is preventing them from getting the most out of it.

5. Capterra helps people find the right software. Capterra’s products and services help companies make more fully informed decisions in order to find the best software based on their needs. It also helps software vendors with great products reach the people who need them most.

We help companies find the right software, which they use to be more effective and help more people. In essence, Capterra helps make the world a better place, albeit in our small and unique way.

That’s pretty cool. I can get excited about that.  That motivates me every day.

No, it’s not as easy and intuitive as “healing people”, but that can’t stop us (and should not stop any business) from being as explicit as possible in communicating our mission. This begins with explaining it, but does not end there.  Once you have created and properly translated your mission, you must now communicate it – regularly, frequently, and consistently.

A benefit of being a founder is that I have had the first-hand experience of actually helping our customers – both software buyers and software vendors – and then witnessing the impact. Examples of this abound.  Anyone who works on the front lines – think customer service – is a direct witness to this.  Unfortunately most employees – managers, tech people, marketers – are at least one stepped removed from the customer. So in order for most employees to really connect with the mission and feel purpose at work, the company must go beyond mere explanations and embrace storytelling.  Stories that capture how a company is helping its customers are hugely powerful and help all of us better understand why we are coming to work every day.  These stories should be shared in as many ways as possible.  Emails, all hands meetings, online, videos – the more ways you can relay your stories, the more you are increasing the engagement of your team by helping them to see the purpose behind their work.

There is a reason why you started your company.  Embrace it, live it, and communicate it as well as you possibly can.  Give everyone the joy of working with purpose.

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Michael Ortner

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Mike started Capterra in 1999 as the first website dedicated to helping people find the right software for their business. Today, Capterra lists over 30,000 software companies, displays more than 250,000 software reviews, and receives over 3,000,000 monthly visitors. He's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Fox News, and Inc. Magazine, among other publications, where he's spoken on topics ranging from the business software industry to running and growing a business in the 21st century. Mike received a business degree from Georgetown University and a philosophy degree from the University of London. He lives in McLean, VA with his wife and six children.

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