If you can rock with me for just a few moments, I will explain a simple framework to help you make business decisions . . . of any kind . . . at all . . . ever.
It’s so tempting as a business owner to go back and forth on deciding between two software tools (“Do I need MailChimp or ConvertKit?”) or between two different methods of accomplishing a goal (“Do I want to connect more deeply with my audience through an email list or a Facebook Group?” // “Should I blog or do Facebook Lives?”) . . . when really, the question as is will waste your time because it’s likely that your overall mission or problem wasn’t well defined.
Meaning: The more defined and clear a business question, problem, or goal is, the more the clear answer is and the faster the best choice will make itself seen.
I want to introduce you to the Mission > Method > Mechanism framework.
This model (a.k.a.: short adult homework activity) will help you with all of your business decisions . . . and honestly, your life decisions as well. It helps you define your mission (goal), decide on the method (way) you will go about your mission, then (and only then) select the mechanism (tool) to carry out the chosen mission in the chosen way.
Your mission is more important than the means or method you go about doing it in, and your chosen method is more important than the tool you decide to execute with, so Mission > Method > Mechanism. Let’s begin. Or, grab the PDF framework (it comes with a few pages of instructions as well:
Now, let’s begin.
1. Define your mission.
The first thing to do is choose a key business mission (goal) you want to focus on. You’ll go through this process multiple times for different goals, so just start with one.
Create a statement that has a clear, measurable outcome.
Examples of business missions (goals) that are NOT clear and will lead to foggy decision making:
- “To become an expert in my field.” Hard to measure. Hard to know when your audience or the world at large feels this way about you. Terrible goal that can leave you feeling unaccomplished.
- “Empower women to be their own boss.” Get back to me when you can measure this.
- “Create an engaged, trustworthy email list.” Not the ‘trustworthy’ word though.
- “Stop trading time for dollars with my services.” But like, how?
- And so on . . .
Examples of great missions (goals) that are CLEAR and will lead to epic decision making:
- “Build an interest list of 100 people for my new online yoga course before it launches.” Simple to measure. You either end up with 100 people, or 0 people, or 2,730 people, etc. on your interest list. Good job, friend.
- “Help one woman transition out of her full-time job into running her own freelance business that makes as much or more income for her within six months.” Go on with your bad self. Super measurable, super clear.
- “Create an email list of 500+ people in the next 6 months.” Those numbers are clear.
- “Release an online workshop (for around $100) teaching people how to DIY the home organization service I currently do in a DFY (done for you) capacity. Test the workshop out by pitching it to my current email list (140 people) to see if they buy and speak well of the product.” Yeah, I know, these “clear” goals can take up more space sometimes than vague ones, but it will be much easier to develop a strategy and select the tools to help make them happen.
Now that you have your mission statement . . .
2a. Decide on any critical features of your mission that will benefit you and your brand and work toward the larger purpose you have for your business.
Examples of critical features (hint: you’ll go back and refine your mission statement at times after writing these out):
- To attract engaged subscribers . . . so, not just “build a list of 500+ people in the next 6 months” but instead, build a list with 500+ people and a 40% or more open rate . . . which allows you to stay ‘top of mind’ for your audience’s yoga needs.
- Must choose an infoproduct that won’t take more than a month to create and will show me how interested my audience is in learning this from me . . . so, I should make sure the format of the infoproduct is something they like to consume.
What are some critical features of your goal that will help this current mission actually grow your brand or fulfill the purpose you have for it? Once you can answer that, it’s time to . . .
2b. Decide on any critical features of your mission that will benefit your audience.
Examples of features you consider critical in serving your audience:
- “Offer info and experiences they don’t get elsewhere. Stand out from the regular email/broadcast updates with ‘3 yoga poses for energy’ and delight them with more.” You could choose to make this critical feature measurable by surveying your audience once per quarter to find out how they like your updates/broadcasts. Or, you may just know what other brands are doing in the space and know your content stands out. You might just track open/view/conversion rates and judge by the “I love you” emails you get.
- “My information product must be simple for them to understand, purchase, consume, and then execute on within the week. People will benefit from immediate changes to their health routine.” This might help you decide not to make your content an 12-week online course, but instead a 3-day online summit or mini-course with clear activities suggested throughout and incentives for trying them out.
Think about your current mission (goal) and ask yourself if there is any need/idea that is critical to making your goal as amazing as possible for your audience? Once you feel you’ve though through this clearly . . .
3. Write down any key constraints (limitations or boundaries) for your goal/mission.
- If your goal was related to engaged subscribers, a constraint might be: “Must be able to create time-sensitive broadcasts for my audience likely to be seen by the 100 people I’m trying to get on my interest list.”
- If your goal was helping women transition out of their 9 – 5, a constraint might be: “Must not develop a service package that won’t require more than 30 hours of work per week at my ideal client load of 5 people, so that I have time to develop my first eBook and audio book combo at the same time.“
- If your goal was to create your first “passive income” information product without pouring more than a month into an effort you’re unsure will perform well, a constraint might be: “I have to be able to create it in two weekends flat.”
4. Refine your mission statement (as necessary) based on the critical features and constraints you identified in 2 + 3 above.
Let’s say you initially had your goal as “Get my first 100 subscribers.” but after writing out the critical features of this goal for your brand and audience, you realized that you want 100 people on an interest list specific to your product (so, not just a general list). If you know you’re building this list to test a product you want to introduce, you’ll want a mission that reflects that.
Ex: “Build an interest list of 100 people for my new product, pre-launch, so I can see a clear conversion rate of buyers and figure out if this is a good product for this audience.”
Alright, so 1 – 4 helped you nail down the “mission” of Mission > Method > Mechanism (hint: you can always refine/define more later), so now it’s time to move on to “method.” We’re gonna seemingly go out of order here (and don’t forget to sign up for the PDF framework at the top or bottom of this article to keep track of all this), because before you decide on the method (way) you will accomplish your mission (goal) . . .
5a. Write down any critical features of your method that will benefit you and your brand.
Examples of critical method features for a brand:
- “Gotta be able to deliver info and offers to audience at all hours of the day because I expect people from multiple time zones. This will need to be automated so I don’t have to be ‘at it’ 24-7 and so that I don’t have to hire support help when I haven’t made income yet and don’t have the budget for it.” Psst, this might guide you to choose a method of communication such as automated chat bots or automated emails and triggers so that when someone presses a button on your site and “signs up” things start happening immediately for them.
- “I need to offer guidance for women transitioning out of their careers in a way that allows me to have in-depth convos with this type of woman . . . I want to learn enough about them that I can eventually ‘productize’ my knowledge into a helpful course or book.” Hint: This might cause you to choose services such as 1-on-1 coaching, or a group program with small breakout sessions of 5 people or less so that you can do more than read an email or two from your audience to get to know their needs better.
Think about the way you want to execute on your (hopefully) clear mission/goal—what critical or important needs do you have for this method? What does it need to provide you with? Or make simpler? Or do for you?
Got it. Now it’s time to . . .
5b. Write down any critical features of your method that will benefit/affect your audience.
Examples of critical features that will affect your audience:
- If your goal was 100 subscribers on your product interest list, a critical feature might be: “Communication must happen in a platform or tool they already use regularly and enjoy.” Thus, your audience won’t have to sign up for new accounts or go to unfamiliar places to hear from you. Because let’s be honest, that just might not happen . . . and then your mission is in jeopardy.
- If your goal was to develop and deliver workout plans online based on each audience member’s specific body and goals, an example critical feature of the method you choose might be: “Client has an easy way to ask clarifying questions in a format they prefer, so they feel and know their individual needs matter to me and that I didn’t just sell them a stock template.” This might cause you to choose a method that allows your client to send text/audio notes to you.
What does your audience need (or what will they highly appreciate) within the way (method) you choose to help them and execute on the larger goal (mission)?
Now it’s time to:
6. Write down any key constraints (limitations or boundaries) for your method.
- If you’re the person with the goal of 100 subscribers on an interest list for your yoga course, an example constraint might be that the method of communication “Can’t involve a lot of writing. I hate it.”
- If you want to stay “top of mind” for your audience and their fitness coaching needs, you might say your method “Can’t be solely dependent on a single social media platform’s algorithm since I have a small following right now and won’t likely have my content shown to enough of my subscribers.” Hint: This might mean that you eliminate “Instagram” as the chosen method to gain your 500 followers in the next six months, and instead you might opt for an email list or Facebook Messenger marketing instead.
Got your constraints in mind?
I’m gonna give you this P.S. now instead of waiting until the end.
P.S. If at any point in this process (ex: when you’re choosing a method, or defining the critical features of your method/mechanism, or any of the numbers 2 – 10 in this process) you have a hard time answering something, it’s probably because more clarity was necessary in the stage before.
If you can’t come up with a key feature your method must have in order to serve your audience best, you probably don’t have a clear handle on your mission/goal and need to go back up to that step and dig deeper.
If you’re having a hard time with even Step 1, you might need to go back to your business planning to make sure you understand the audience you want to serve, how you are a good fit to help them, and what your business model is.
7. Choose the method (way) you will execute on your mission (goal).
Based on your well thought out critical features and constraints, it’s time to decide the method (way) you will carry out your larger goal.
For example: You might decide that you want to gain Facebook Messenger subscribers for your yoga product interest list instead of email list subscribers (you might also choose to do both) because you like the fact that Facebook is a platform your audience already uses, you know the messages will appear in their notifications (“top of mind”), and you love that you’ll be able to send memes, GIFs, videos, or short text snippets about yoga instead of creating longer-form emails (“I hate writing soooo much.”).
Okay, let’s recap then move to our final stage. Steps 1 – 4 helped you nail down the “mission” of Mission > Method > Mechanism, Steps 5 – 7, helped you select the best “method” you will use to accomplish your mission (goal), so now it’s time to figure out the “mechanism” you want to employ for your method and mission.
And, you might already get the point of this whole exercise . . . most people start by asking what tool they should use, when actually that’s the last question in this logical decision-making framework. A tool is only as good as the way you use it and the goal it supports.
8a. Record one or more critical needs/features that your brand has in relation to the mechanism (a.k.a. tool) you’ll execute your method/strategy with.
Example features of the tool you will choose in Step 10 that are critical for your brand:
- “Allows segmented leads and multiple ‘tags’ for each subscriber, so I can target them with the info that makes most sense.” Instead of dumping all your contacts into one list where you can’t tell if they’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced yoga practitioner, you might want a tool that allows you to tag them, so you won’t send your Yoga 101 message to someone who doesn’t need it when you can instead send them a relevant offer they may want to snatch up.
- Or let’s say you had a mission and method that led you to decide to write and publish an eBook, a critical “mechanism” feature for you might now be: “Allows me to start from a template to lay out the book because I don’t have the budget for a designer and don’t have the time or design skills to start from scratch.”
See what we’re doing here at each level? We’re making questions such as “What tool should I choose?” so much easier to answer. You can go the no drama route and do it confidently because even if “Shelly n’ them” are using some other fancy pants tool, you’ll know the one you chose is right for you. Even if “Mark & company” have chosen a different method, you’ll feel great about your decision to start _____ or do _____ because it aligns so well with your measurable mission. Right?
8b. Write down one or more critical needs/features that your audience has in relation to the mechanism (a.k.a. tool) you’ll execute your method/strategy with.
Here are some example features of the tool you will choose in Step 10 that are critical (or even just nice to have) for your audience:
- “Content must be easy to interact with, view, and understand so the interactions don’t frustrate them.” So, knowing your audience is above the age of 60, or that they’re 28 – 43 on average but spend most of their day in a corporate environment where email is the comfortable norm, you may choose to send content as text-based emails without fancy widgets and scrolling banners, and confetti delivery options. This may convince you to use Drip or ConvertKit as your email provider instead of one that has a primary selling point of how easy it is to make fancy emails.
- If you’re the person who needed segmented leads and tags, but you also decided that Facebook Messenger is the best place for your audience, then your additional critical tool/mechanism feature might be: “Audience member can take a 3-question ‘quiz’ within Messenger that tags them in my system as beginner through advanced and lets me know if they’re more interested in movement or meditation. Then the software should immediately deliver a free lesson to them to get started based on their preferences.” And perhaps in knowing you want this level of ease for your clients, you choose ManyChat as your Messenger marketing tool.
Two steps left.
9. Record the key constraints (limitations or boundaries) you want/need to apply to your mechanism/tool.
Some examples might be:
- “The broadcast/communication software can’t cost more than $20/month unless I’m seeing a return on investment within the first six months that shows me the tool helps me make more than it costs me to use.”
- “The tool must have a visual building feature because I know that my brain works best when I can see a process/path laid out as an image.”
- “The tool I use for client calls must have an easy-to-use recording feature that creates a video and audio file of my client meetings so I can send those to my client to review and keep.”
10. Choose the mechanism (tool) you will use based on your epic thoughts on any critical features and constraints.
When you are considering tool options now, you know the key features each tool must have to help with the method you’ve chosen to execute the larger goal. If you find that a tool doesn’t have a critical feature, it’s probably not a good fit. If you find two tools that both meet your feature and constraint requirements, then you can pick the one that is easier to use, or looks better, or is less expensive, or whatever you prefer because it doesn’t matter once your needs are met.
So, if you’ve ever asked, “Hmm, Teachable or Thinkific?” or “I don’t know if I should be writing an eBook or creating a huge signature course . . . universe?” then back up and try these steps of this framework first.
This process will help you define your mission clearly, choose goals that tie back to the greater purpose of your brand, choose methods that make the most sense for you and the people you serve, then get you out of comparison shopping mode for tools and into a state of action.
Download the Mission > Method > Mechanism PDF below. It has a few pages of reminders/instructions and a single page that you can use over and over and over again for ANY decisions EVER.
What do you think? Will this save you time and headaches with choosing between methods or tools?