In episode 51, hosts Elizabeth Larkin and Gene Marks answer this question:

“I run a small B&B, pretty straightforward. Do I need to really take the time to craft a mission or vision statement? I’m not creative or great at writing, so that’s not really something I want to spend my time doing.”

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Elizabeth: Gene?

Gene: Yes.

Elizabeth: I know that your wife is British.

Gene: Yes.

Elizabeth: Have you ever watched the Great British Baking Show?

Gene: Oh my god, we have watched every series of The Great British Baking… They have four or five on Netflix, but we did that before. We actually went online, probably illegally, and connected my laptop into our… and watched it… And the reason why is because her family, her sister and her husband, oh they love that show. They were always big fans of it. The answer is yeah, it’s a great fantastic show, and it’s so British that show. That’s what so great about it.

Elizabeth: It’s so British, and so my question is, why hasn’t any industrious TV-

Gene: They tried, here in America. They had a spin-off in America on PBS. I forget the name it.

Elizabeth: They did?

Gene: It just didn’t go very well.

Elizabeth: I can’t believe it.

Gene: I know. You would think particularly when the Food Network in America has Chopped and all these like thing or really whatever, there’s something they could not capture that the look and feel and the coziest and the…

Elizabeth: Oh my gosh.

Gene: It’s a great show, and by the way, it is a national phenomena in England. You know, the winners of that show become celebrities in their own rights. All they’re doing is making these unbelievable desserts.

Elizabeth: It’s a great opportunity for small businesses because, I don’t remember the exact statistic, but baking has increased in popularity so much.

Gene: Yes, right.

Elizabeth: That having like a little Etsy shop or something, when you’re selling baking supplies-

Gene: Correct.

Elizabeth: Books on how to, blogs on how-to’s, oh my goodness. I just finished watching it on Netflix. There are only three seasons on Netflix-

Gene: Is it three seasons on Netflix? Okay

Elizabeth: I was so sad when I finished that third season that I went back and started watching the first season again. I don’t know what it is about that show, but it’s so comic.

Gene: It is. It’s very, very cozy and the people that are on it are bakers. It’s just normal people, so they’re not-

Elizabeth: Yeah, and they’re so charming.

Gene: Unbelievable, they are unbelievable.

Elizabeth: Is it just the accents? I don’t know.

Gene: I don’t know. Plus my wife has a big crush on Paul, you know, one of the judges.

Elizabeth: What?

Gene: She loves him. She thinks he is really good looking and really, you know.

Elizabeth: I don’t like his personality.

Gene: She loves him. I like Mary. She’s kind of cute.

Elizabeth: I love Mary.

Gene: Yeah, she’s kind of cute.

Elizabeth: Oh my goodness. Alright, we’ll be right back with our first question. This is about running a B&B.

Gene: You know Mary’s like 150 years old?

Elizabeth: Oh, I know. But she’s so sweet. The comedians are so funny, oh my god.

Gene: Oh, she’s great. Aren’t they great? I think the two of them are great. They have a whole history. They worked together as comedians for a long time, and they’re like, “Ready, set, bake.” It’s very cute.

QUESTION: Do I Need a Mission Statement for my Small Business?

Elizabeth: Okay, we’re back with question number one. This is from Louisa in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Louisa writes:

“I run a small B&B, pretty straightforward. Do I need to really take the time to craft a mission or vision statement? I’m not creative or great at writing, so that’s not really something I want to spend my time doing.”

My answer is don’t do it then.

Gene: No, I disagree.

Elizabeth: What?

Gene: First of all, you know me, like I’m a pretty nuts and bolts kind of guy. I’m like, no, I don’t get too, you know, whatever. It’s just like running a business. Make me some money. Support my family. You know all that kind of let me got out and whatever, right? Ask me what my company’s mission statement is.

Elizabeth: What’s your company’s mission statement?

Gene: It’s to help our clients do things quicker, better and wiser.

Elizabeth: But see that’s to me sounds more like a tagline.

Gene: Hey, come on. No, that’s our mission statement. What are you talking about? It’s not a tagline.

Elizabeth: Are you talking about mission statement as a piece of branding or is-

Gene: No, my mission statement, I’ll tell you why it’s been really important. I don’t know, is it a tagline? Now you’re making me feel self conscious. I call it our mission statement and I go back to it all the time when I’m feeling kind of down about things, when a client is yelling at me, when I don’t feel like we’re very appreciated, when I talk to an employee and I want to try to get an employee kind of like jazzed up. Because listen in the end, where we’ll installing software at businesses. It’s not like we’re not changing the world. For me to say like, “Listen, we are helping our clients, small businesses, do things quicker, better and wiser. That’s what we’re doing. That’s what why we exist. That’s helping them hopefully profit, and make money, and provide a livelihood for their people and their families and all that.” I go back to that.

Elizabeth: Yeah, I see total value in that. I think we’re talking about different things though. When she says mission statement, I picture her sitting down at her computer writing out 10 pages on why I’m running this business.

Gene: Okay, well then I don’t see that at all. Maybe that’s the problem is that maybe we, and what’s her name again?

Elizabeth: Louisa.

Gene: Louisa, right, from Yellow Springs, the yellow river, yellow snow, Ohio, okay.

Elizabeth: Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Gene: Maybe we’re all getting confused about what a mission statement is. She’s thinking maybe like you, “I’ve got to sit there and write a book about the mission statement, or …” I’m just saying go. You want to have one or two lines at most about what your company is all about. That’s the mission statement.

Elizabeth: Yeah, okay, so Louisa, you can take the time to do that without being a writer. Now let’s think about what a B&B’s mission is then.

Gene: Yeah, that’s actually funny. I mean, let’s brainstorm for her a little bit, right? You know, to provide-

Elizabeth: Comfort.

Gene: Yeah, to provide a home away from home, we want to be the kind of place you’ve always wanted to stay at. Our B&B is safe, and beautiful, and-

Elizabeth: And cozy.

Gene: … fun to be at, yeah, that kind of thing. That’s all. That’s all. Maybe it is a tagline, maybe it is a marketing statement, I don’t know, or an ad campaign.

Elizabeth: You’re really affected by the tagline.

Gene: A little bit because I’m walking around telling everybody it’s our mission statement, and you’re telling me it’s like a marketing statement-

Elizabeth: Well, no, no, no.

Gene: … like Don Draper wrote it or something. That’s not fair. That’s our mission statement. Keep it short and sweet, but have one, have one so that you can go back to it when a guest complains, or a pipe breaks, and you’re like, “Why am I doing this? Oh, I’m doing this to provide an oasis for people that need an oasis because that’s what my mission statement is.” It does ground you and it keeps you going.

Elizabeth: Yeah, I think it’s really helpful, like you said, with employees too, to be like, “Hey, this is why we’re here.”

Gene: It does, yeah.

Elizabeth: “It’s to do, it’s to provide a cozy stay and a bountiful breakfast for people.”

Gene: Yes, it’s not just a job. It’s something a little bit more. These people worked hard all week, and they come to us for a weekend away to forget about their problems and have a great meal, or whatever. That’s what we’re doing is helping people. In the end, that’s what we’re all… You know, we realize every business is… Again, it’s not like we’re changing the world, but we’d all like to feel like we’re contributing a little bit to it. If you come up with a short and sweet mission statement, you’ll go back to that frequently. I do.

Elizabeth: Who would you go to, to create a mission statement? Do you think that’s something that has to come to the owner, or could you work with someone else on that?

Gene: I think it has to come from the owner. Unless you have multiple owners, and you want to collaborate on what you wanted together. If you’re going to anything as the owner of the business, I think you should either take a deep breath and pour yourself a drink and say, “Why am I doing this? Yes, I’m doing this to earn a living, but why am I doing this?”

Elizabeth: Okay, what’s your mission statement again?

Gene: To…

Elizabeth: Oh god, now he’s forgot it.

Gene: To enable our clients to do things quicker, better and wiser.

Elizabeth: Okay, that’s a good one.

Gene: Okay, and we use that with technology because we sell different technologies to help them do that. I think it is a good one.

Elizabeth: Okay, Louisa, you got to roll up your sleeves.

Gene: You got to think of this one on your own, Louisa.

Elizabeth: Pour yourself a cup of tea, sit in one of the beautiful bay windows in your B&B, and come up with a mission statement.

Gene: Yeah, whatever you do, don’t drink from that yellow river either, okay? I would stay away from that.

Elizabeth: It’s a spring, Gene.

Gene: Oh, okay, whatever. It’s yellow.

Elizabeth: We’ll be right back with Gene’s Word of Brilliance.


Elizabeth: We’re back and Gene, we’re ready for your Word of Brilliance.

Gene: Bakery Scanned. You know, we were talking before at our blowout 50th episode, right, we had doughnuts, lots of doughnuts that day as well, and it got me thinking about bakeries.

Just recently, Samsung has released this product in Japan, soon to come to the US I’m sure, which is a scan for bakers. Why it’s important to businesses is this. When you go to buy something in the bakery, people like to… You’re used to when you’re buying something in a food market, you scan it. You have the barcode, you scan it whatever. To have a barcode scanner, it’s got to be in a box. It’s got to be in plastic. It’s got to have the barcode on it. You got it scan it, right?

You go to a bakery, or any other place where there’s sort of visual whatnot, you can’t really scan. You’re not going to put a barcode on a loaf of bread or doughnuts, you know what I mean? You can’t do it. Well, Samsung has created a scanner that can identify the baked goods and ring up the price for it just by a visual scan. How cool is that?

Elizabeth: Did you think of this before I brought up the Great British Baking Show?

Gene: No, this has absolute, complete disconnection to that, but we’re now, as we’re on the topic…

Elizabeth: You do have a doughnut hangover.

Gene: It’s like a doughnut hangover. You talk about this now. I don’t even think this scanner could recognize anything on the British Bake Off, by the way, because those things are really complex.

Elizabeth: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Gene: It scans and it’s a visual scanning thing. The reason why that’s important for-

Elizabeth: That’s so cool.

Gene: Very cool for bakers because then they can get doing things quicker, better and wiser, right? You invest in a scanner like that and they can get through more people faster in their store by just scanning this through instead of having to ring everything up. On top of that, if you’re running a business that also has visual items in it that you’re scanning that is tough to put barcodes on, then have faith because new generations of scanners are coming out, that are being put into practice right now in Japan, that will be able to recognize the items that you sell without a barcode.

Elizabeth: That’s so cool. Bakeries do have crazy slow checkout.

Gene: We have a bakery across the street. I live in downtown Philadelphia. I’m not going to give the name of this bakery away, but it is wonderful. It’s renowned in Philadelphia. It’s a little French bakery, and it’s very popular. Elizabeth, buying something in this store, it’s like I feel like I’m orchestrating a takeover of Wells Fargo. They don’t accept cash unless you pay $10. That’s a whole other topic I want to scrape. If you use a credit card, their credit card machine, they lose it. It gets disconnected. They don’t know. The people that are working in this store, they’re all kids. They’re very nice kids, but it’s like, “Please, I’m begging you. Just ring up my order sometime today.” Anyway, bakeries for some reason seem very disorganized when it comes to-

Elizabeth: What do you get at that bakery?

Gene: We get bread almost every day from this bakery.

Elizabeth: Wow.

Gene: Like a few times a week, we get bread there.

Elizabeth: What kind of bread?

Gene: They have a San Francisco sourdough loaf that they make, which is awesome, and then they slice it for you. I mean, we use that all the time. Then we go on the weekends. We’ll go there and get croissants or whatever and bring it back.

Elizabeth: Oh, so nice.

Gene: It’s a really nice bakery, really cool. Small and French-y, like great French like a mode. Oh, my wife and I are like, “It’s your turn to go in and buy it,” which drives me nuts.

Elizabeth: Your turn to deal with the hipsters in there.

Gene: It drives me nuts.

Elizabeth: Okay, that’s going to wrap it up for this episode. We’ll talk to you in a couple days.