Defining a charter for your project is a key part of starting a business. It can generally be broken down into 4 parts: vision, social mission, principles of action and values. Duly formalizing these points is extremely important, as the thought-process it involves will allow you to:
- Step back and take stock of your project
- Give it meaning and a core raison d’être to unite stakeholders
- Better establish how you will run your project
- Create unity amongst team members and other people you work with
- Communicate and spark the interest of your contacts and targets.
In this article, we will be giving you some tips to guide you through the process.
Shape your vision
The image of the future you hope for, the ideal world you dream of. Your vision expresses the uniqueness of your project described in the present. What would happen if the social issue you are addressing were to disappear? Your vision considers society as a whole: it’s a proposal of what the situation in the given zone should be if the targeted issue was resolved. Once this is established, your vision guides your actions and becomes a strong factor for rallying employees and volunteers around you, and for communicating with partners.
Let’s take a look at French company Les Talents d’Alphonse (website in french), for example, a collaborative platform that fosters social bonds between generations. Their vision is “a world where bonds between generations become the norm for people to achieve their dreams, where individuals learn and draw inspiration from the experiences of other generations.”
Describe your social mission or raison d’être
A social mission lays out your project’s specific objective, its reason for existing. It is the path that leads from the current to the ideal situation. It details the active, concrete role your project plays in resolving the targeted issue and is action-based, meaning it can evolve throughout your project’s lifecycle.
Your social mission should be summarized into one or two clear, concise and realistic sentences. To get the wording right, try giving some thought to: What problem are you looking to solve? Who will benefit from your project? What impact are you seeking? How do you hope to achieve it? What services will you be implementing?
If we take another look at Les Talents d’Alphonse, their social mission is to enable all active seniors to have a fulfilling and well-rounded retirement:
- By finding a role to play in society, passing on their experiences
- By building new friendships with people near them
- By having additional funds to fully enjoy their retirement.
Determine your business objectives and activities
How will your company go about tackling the social issue you have your eye on? Your objectives define the activities your company intends to conduct and the expected results.
Together, your objectives, your vision and your social mission form the logic behind your project. For your company to fulfil its social mission, you will need to mount and implement those actions.
Les Talents d’Alphonse describes their activities as follows:
- Linking curious people with a desire to learn a skill (sewing, music, foreign language, etc.) with keen retirees
- Linking parents with neighborhood retirees willing to provide childcare to their children.
Specify your principles of action and your values
This is your company’s ethical or moral framework, the values and beliefs of your team. How will you proceed day-to-day to achieve the mission and vision your project holds? Values ensure smooth operations within the team and concordance in how they work. This could include transparency, team spirit, fair pay, tolerance, etc.
Les Talents d’Alphonse summarized their values as:
- Acting responsibly
- Living in a friendly environment
- Regarding others with respect
- Sparking collective energy.
To sum up, the takeaway is that your charter should be:
- Clear: about how your project is positioned within the given context
- Motivational: with dynamic and inspiring wording
- Consistent: between vision, mission, objectives and principles of action
- Scalable: able to evolve over time if necessary.
Some final tips
Keep in mind that your charter should be no more than one page long, so be concise! Our advice is to draw up a first draft during the idea phase, then refer back to it on a regular basis to ensure your actions are consistent with your charter. Most of the details in it will be useful when you get around to creating a website, pitch, business plan, etc.
We hope this article has given you a few leads for drafting your charter: an essential document to start your entrepreneurial project off on the right foot!
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