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How To Build A Mission-Focused Startup Team

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by Patrick Frank, Co-founder, and COO of Patient Partner

The number one thing that will kill a startup is a lack of cash. After that, your success will depend on your team. You can’t do it on your own. Still, just any team won’t do. Just a talented team isn’t necessarily the answer.

The team that will help you to achieve your mission is a team that is focused and committed to that mission.

Magnify the mission.

The mission you are on defines the journey your start-up and your team will take. You may not think that defining this in a mission statement is all that important because in your mind the mission is clear, you know internally what you are striving towards because as a founder it is always top of mind. However, to inspire and lead others having a mission statement is critical. 

It is your job as a leader of the company to define that mission, and create the vision for how your company will change the world. Drawing that straight line from 5-10 years out back to the present moment is what not only inspires others, it also creates a sense of purpose in the present. It is important that the team knows that what they are doing today, is defining the pathway to the greater vision.  

A mission and vision statement are a great start, but it’s not enough. 

It’s been said that the point at which you get tired of talking about your mission is the point at which your team is just starting to get it. Defining the mission is not enough. Sharing the mission is not enough. You need to magnify the mission. Live it.  Make it larger than life. Talk about it all the time. End every email with it. Whatever it takes. It needs to become a core part of the team that is felt and is exemplified in the work that you do. 

Celebrate the wins.

Celebrating the wins no matter how big or how small creates momentum, and momentum magnifies the mission.

Toms shoes is a great example of a mission-driven organization that knows how to celebrate wins. Toms pioneered what it calls the “One for One” business model, giving away one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair it sells. To celebrate wins, employees from all company teams participate in “shoe drop” events during which they travel to other countries to give away shoes to children in need. It’s a living, breathing mission statement. 

Visit the PatientPartner website and you’ll find pictures and stories of the people who have benefited from our mission to connect patients with one another through a community of empathy and support. It’s a great way to attract new people who need our support, but it’s also a great way to show our team that the mission is making a difference. 

One of the greatest moments in building our company was the day we realized that is was altruism from our members which is what was fueling our growth. So instead of compensating our mentors for connecting with patients in need, we decided to participate in that altruism and donate to a charity of their choice for every connection they make on our platform. 

A good leader can communicate the mission in a way that will inspire and motivate. An inspiring mission can fuel growth and a positively impacted customer/user will always testify to the way that is life-changing.

Lament the losses.

There are certain things from which you should be protecting your team like; lengthy meetings, faulty technology, and burnout, but never hide the losses. You will often find that you, as a founder or leader at the company, take the losses significantly harder than the team. While some leaders feel it is important to conceal business failures, whether because of pride or fear that the news will be demotivating. Don’t get inside your own head. Let business failures be an opportunity to refocus your team on the mission, rather than an opportunity for the team to begin doubting the mission’s power. 

Share the loss, learn from the loss, conquer the loss. 

At PatientPartner, we know that every day there are thousands of people wrestling with the uncertainty and fear related to medical procedures. Stephanie was one of them. Thanks to our team and their commitment to our mission, she found “Confidence to get other opinions, to ask the right questions, and to feel more confident about not accepting my current symptoms as if I just have to live with them.”

While we celebrate Stephanie’s story, we know there are thousands of others who still need what she found. To be a mission-focused team, we need to celebrate what we’ve achieved, but also stay focused on the potential yet to be realized, drawing the straight line from the future to the present and living it every day. 

 

Patrick Frank, Co-founder, and COO of Patient Partner, is an expert at scaling companies and integrating technology in both startups and structured environments. In consumer technology, he was named on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list. Patrick has spent his whole career in traditional industries such as real estate, finance, law, gas, and healthcare, scaling firms and incorporating technology.