The discussion about the differences between business terms and how they relate to our creative business is fascinating to me, and I’ll try to dissect the following ones:
Mission, Vision, Objective, Strategy, Tactics.
Mission / Vision
Mission and vision work together. To use myself as an example:
My mission is to help elevate & reimagine the minimalist photography space.
My vision is of a world in which brands and artists use refined art direction, minimalist aesthetics, and contemporary storytelling to reach their audiences and grow their businesses. In that world, the best of contemporary architecture, fashion & design coexist in an exciting dialog.
Both mission and vision exist on a long time scale, and that can be 10 years or often more. If you’re changing your mission-vision way more often than that, it’s not very likely you’ll manage to have much of an impact.
It’s totally ok to not know what your mission-vision is. It will come – You can still have an objective, strategy, and tactics.
In a business context, an objective is a clear business goal. These can change more often, like yearly.
For example: My objective for 2019 was to turn down most unwanted/small work and focus on booking campaigns for impactful or exciting brands that I can identify with. These brands often have bigger budgets too.
My objective for 2020 is still in the works but it looks like it’s going to have with doing more work overseas and working with high-level agents and representatives. Additionally, another objective of mine is to expand this newsletter and provide educational / video material that will further help other creatives. (Feel free to reply with what you’d like to see.)
You might notice that my annual objectives are not unrelated. Ideally, they build on the previous. They should align because I have a long term mission/vision.
If you’re unsure of your mission/vision, your objectives can be longer term and less directly related to each other, and that can work too.
A strategy is a focused approach to reaching the objective. There are usually multiple strategies that you can use to reach any given objective.
For example, if your objective is to get yourself more known in your niche in order to get more work, you could choose from a bunch of different strategies. Here are two:
- Network IRL and connect with the right people in the industry
- Grow on Instagram and have a larger impact on social media
These two strategies are not mutually exclusive and it can even work better by combining them, but you’ll have to be realistic about how much you can do without sacrificing quality.Strategies exist because every individual has limited resources. Therefore, you need to focus your energy. Your strategy is the articulation of that focus. Trying to half-ass a hundred strategies at the same time will lead to failure. A great strategy is simple and straight forward. With a clear strategy, you can tell which tactics will be effective.
But how do you decide on the strategy?
Pick the one(s) that you believe in the most. To use myself as an example again, I recall that my objective for 2017 was to reach 10x more people. The strategy I had selected was to shoot, collaborate and post as much as possible, and that was working better on Instagram back then.How do we know the strategy will work? We don’t. There are no guarantees. I believe it, but it might still not work. There’s risk and it requires making a decision and rolling with it.
If you are sure you did your best and the strategy isn’t working, you should change it. But change it all the time before it even has time to pay off and it’s a waste of resources and will tire you out.
Tactics are the day-to-day actions you perform to execute a strategy and achieve your desired objective.
Tactics would be things like:
- Do in-depth behind the scenes stories that will provide insight and build trust
- Engaging/commenting/dming with an x number of accounts on Instagram
- Posting content daily
- Writing a book
- Starting a youtube channel
The list of tactics that might grow your business is endless. It’s the strategy that will give you direction about which things you should do. Which is why we need a clear objective and commitment to strategy.
Operating a business with zero strategy is like swiping all-right on Tinder. You might get some matches but you’ll get disappointed.
George Kroustallis // Minorstep
P.S. Has this been helpful? Feel free to share the newsletter/article with others and have them join. It will allow me to keep writing more.