Charlie Hatchet is the busy-beaver owner of Moosepicks, a company that makes toothpicks for moose. Back when Charlie’s new company was almost going under, marketing consultant Fred Squirrel helped him turn things around. With Fred’s help, Charlie found a target audience, created a company name and brand, and developed a unique product. Manufacturing is no sweat for Charlie, but he continues learning the ropes of marketing.
Charlie Hatchet looked at the sun directly overhead. Time for some chow. He would grab a quick bite at the Cottonwood Café, and be back in time to help his youngest kit, who would be arriving soon to work in production. He hadn’t planned to help with production today, but his oldest kit had woken up with a high fever and wasn’t able to work.
As Charlie scurried down the trail, his mind returned to the office. That morning he had reviewed income and expenses for the moon cycle that had just ended. Incoming acorns were down slightly, but outgoing acorns were up majorly. He had broken even for the month, but just barely.
“Excuse me, sir.” A moose hurried in Charlie’s direction as he arrived at the café. “Are you the Moosepicks beaver?”
“Yes, I am,” Charlie replied, trying to shift mental gears from accounting mode to customer service mode. What did this moose want with him, anyway? The big fellow didn’t look too happy.
“I’ve got something to tell you,” the moose grunted. “Last week I was using a Moosepicks, and it put a splinter in my cheek. And then it got infected. Let me tell you, I am never using a Moosepicks again, and I’m telling my friends how dangerous they are.”
Momentarily speechless, Charlie finally stammered out an apology and promised to replace the Moosepicks at no charge. But the moose refused. “I don’t want your splinter-stick. I don’t trust you,” he said, scuffing up the forest floor with a huge hoof for emphasis.
As Charlie placed his order at the café counter, he realized he wasn’t hungry anymore. It’s not fair to blame me that you got a splinter in your fat mouth, he fumed. Moosepicks were the smoothest toothpicks in the forest. As far as he knew, a Moosepicks had never yet given anyone a splinter.
When Charlie got back to the Moosepicks warehouse, he found Miles Moose’s brother waiting for him. Charlie had a foreboding feeling as he tried to greet the moose warmly.
“I’m here to pick up my order,” the moose said. “Our big event is tomorrow, you know.”
Charlie groaned silently. His bad day was steadily getting worse. “I’m sorry,” he said, “we don’t have your order ready yet. I thought you were planning to pick them up tomorrow afternoon.”
Charlie longs for the good ol’ days.
It was dark in the lodge that evening when Hannah asked, “What’s wrong, Charlie?”
“Nothing. Just a terrible day,” Charlie mumbled. “One bad day after another. I wonder what will go wrong tomorrow.”
Hannah stroked Charlie’s dark fur soothingly. “You’re doing fine, Charlie.”
But Charlie wasn’t finished. “What is the point of all this hard work and stress? It’s like banging my head against a tree. I wonder if I should just get a job like I used to have, back before this crazy Moosepicks idea.”
Hannah knew exactly how to handle her mate when he was in one of his moods. “You’ll be fine in the morning. You always feel better after a good night of sleep.”
“I don’t know,” Charlie said, shrugging off Hannah’s care. “I’m tired of having days like this. Besides, I would have made more acorns last month punching the clock. And I wouldn’t have all the headaches of owning a business. Maybe I should just get a job.”
Fred Squirrel asks hard questions.
Hannah was right. Charlie did feel better in the morning. But his doubts about his business still dogged him. Charlie mentioned it to Fred Squirrel the next time they met.
Fred flicked his tail, his bright eyes noting Charlie’s downcast posture. Would taking a new perspective and seeing the bigger picture help his beaver friend?
“May I ask a question?” Fred asked, and then went on without waiting for permission. “Why did you choose to start your business in the first place?”
Charlie replied, “I thought it would be nice to have a more flexible schedule, and I hoped I could be at home more.” He pulled at his whiskers, remembering the days before the beginning of Moosepicks. “And I wanted to earn more acorns; and as the kits got older, I wanted them to be able to work with me.”
That was pretty much the answer Fred had expected. “What about benefits to your customers or other forest folk?”
Charlie looked puzzled. “What do you mean?”
Fred replied, “Just for this afternoon, let’s pretend you could accomplish anything you dreamed of in the next forty years with Moosepicks. What would that be? How would you like to change the whole forest? If you could make the world a better place, what would be different?”
Charlie, unaccustomed to thinking in these terms, was silent. “I guess I never thought about Moosepicks quite like that,” he said finally.
Fred explains Vision, Mission, and Core Values.
Fred held up a piece of birch bark on which he had scratched three terms: Vision, Mission, and Core Values.
“I think you would feel better about being a business owner if you had a guiding vision. You know how we forest folk never get lost because we have an internal compass that always keeps us oriented? Your vision is like that compass. Your vision should be to serve a greater good beyond yourself, your family, and your employees. It should inspire you, your workers, and your customers.”
Charlie was still trying to wrap his head around these lofty concepts as Fred went on.
“Your mission is how you accomplish this vision. And your core values guide your mission. Your core values are principles or character attributes that are essential for your business to follow if it is to fulfill the vision and mission.”
When Charlie went home that day, he felt like he had just glimpsed a rainbow on a stormy afternoon. With Fred’s encouragement and help, maybe he would be able to stick it out as a business beaver after all, even if it wasn’t always easy. He looked forward to seeing what Hannah thought about Fred’s ideas.
Hannah, though practical as always, was intrigued by Fred’s questions. “He may be on to something that will help us,” she said. “Let’s think about it.”
Charlie hears others’ perspectives.
Charlie waved Jip Nickel down as Jip passed by the warehouse the next morning. Even though he didn’t trust Jip, maybe he would have interesting insight. “Hey, Jip, what would be a good vision for my business?”
The handsome fox grinned. “If I owned a big company like you do, my vision would be to make a lot of acorns so I could retire early and move south. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?”
Charlie shook his head. “Not really. I’m afraid I would be bored with nothing useful to do.”
Jip Nickel sniffed. “You can work yourself to death if you want, but not me. By the way, do you have any marketing problems I can help you with today?”
Charlie politely declined Jip’s offer to help, remembering the time Jip had proposed handing out branded Follipops candy to customers. In retrospect, it seemed so silly. Moosepicks was all about clean, healthy teeth, and because of their high sugar content, Follipops were actually bad for teeth.
Charlie wondered if Porky Pine, his competitor in the toothpick business, had core values for his business. He waited for an opportunity to casually ask Porky about it. As much as he scorned Porky’s inferior products, he tried to maintain a cordial relationship with the porcupine.
“Guiding principles? Core values?” Porky repeated. “Hmm. I guess one of my values is to sell toothpicks as cheap as I can.” He chuckled. “Cheaper than yours.”
Hannah was as unimpressed as Charlie was with Jip’s and Porky’s comments. “I think Moosepicks has so much more potential than that. And I think you do, too,” she said as she gently squeezed Charlie's paw.
A new sense of purpose.
Charlie’s troubles didn’t disappear simply because he had started thinking more deeply about the underlying values and mission that undergirded his company. But it did seem to help to think beyond himself and envision how Moosepicks was making life better for those around him.
He met with Fred several times to try to get to the core of the Moosepicks vision, clarify the Moosepicks mission, and choose foundational core values. After the first meeting, Charlie told Fred, “I’m going to bring Hannah along next time. I think she has more insight into this than I do.”
And as it turned out, Hannah’s ideas were instrumental in forming the final statements they settled on:
Vision: A lifetime of healthy teeth for all forest animals.
Mission: Moosepicks produces the perfect pick for immediate removal of objects stuck between teeth.
Core Values: Health, stewardship, and charm.
- Health for everyone.
- Stewardship of teeth, of the forest, and of resources.
- Charm: Product quality and presentation, customer relations, and Moosepicks brand should be pleasantly charming.
Charlie posted his new vision, mission, and core values on the wall in his office and looked at them often. They served not only as inspiration for him, but they also became guiding principles. Charlie found that he could make some decisions a lot easier because he was now able to say “no” to things that didn’t fit his vision and mission (like Jip Nickel’s branded Follipop idea).
“Are you still wishing you had a job where you could just punch a clock?” Hannah asked Charlie one evening after he had recounted a production delay that had caused some stress.
But Charlie saw the twinkle in her eyes and knew that she already knew the answer.
Moral of the story
Every business can benefit from establishing a vision, mission, and core values. This requires time, reflection, and discussion between you and others close to you and your business. In addition to reflecting where your business is today, this process may inspire changes in where you want to take the business tomorrow.
Your vision, mission, and core values are like the deep roots of a tree that both stabilize the tree and nurture growth. They give clear direction and a solid foundation to your marketing efforts.
Can you relate to Charlie Hatchet’s challenges? Rosewood Marketing is your Fred Squirrel for the real world. Would you like someone to walk alongside you to help solve your marketing challenges? Call 717-866-5000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.