Kara’s Korner: Finding Your True Mission in 7 Steps

“Finding Your True Mission in 7 Steps” originally posted by hint Founder & CEO, Kara Goldin, on LinkedIn here:

Movies and TV shows make working at a start-up look wildly creative, fulfilling and stimulating—with the potential for striking it rich. (Really, really, rich.)

And while all of those things are true, starting your own business also translates to working a ton of hours. And if you have a family or a significant other, this means you’re going to be spending a significant time away from them to get your idea off the ground. Being an entrepreneur can certainly be a rewarding job, but it is a lot tougher than it looks. In order to stay focused and passionate, your company needs to have a clearly articulated mission. And everyone has to buy into it.

Distilling your core mission takes work, but reaps big rewards. These tips will help you hone your focus:

1. What’s the problem you’re solving? I tell my employees at Hint water () that they need to know the real reason why they are doing what they are doing. Our product solves a huge health problem—it encourages consumers to drink more water and cut out excess sugar and artificial sweeteners.

2. Repeat after me. If you have a mission-driven company, like Hint, it’s important to remind yourself and your employees about your values when you’re in the midst of a tough challenge. Having a shared vision and goal gives you perspective and allows you to catch your breath on hectic days when you ask yourself, “Why the heck are we doing all this?” You have to be passionate about your job—and feel like you’re really moving the dial—because otherwise it can be a stressful working environment.

3. Helpful always beats clever. Remember that when you’re finessing your mission statement. One of our advisers to our company is Jenny, co-founder and head of business development. Jenny and her partner had an “Aha!” idea for women who wanted a nice dress to wear to an event, but didn’t want to spend a lot of money on an item they’d wear only once. So instead, they came up with a business model where women could rent designer dresses and accessories. Jenny’s solution allows women to be able to afford a great outfit, just for an evening. At Hint, we’re solving a different problem—but our mission is the same: helping people.

4. Slow down to stay true. The best advice I’ve ever gotten was from John Foraker, CEO at organic food company . He said the first 7 years are the most important when it comes to establishing a brand. If you go and grow too fast, the consumer can’t keep up with you. In his opinion, brands fail quickly if they don’t take the time to establish themselves. He felt that we had done it right—and that our brand is here to stay.

5. Listen to your customers. The secret behind Hint’s success is that everyone who works here feels that we’ve created something that makes a difference—a real a difference—in people’s lives. Whenever I’m having a frantic day, I look at the comments on our or peek in our company email inbox. The stories our customers tell us are truly remarkable. Whether it’s losing weight as a family to getting a chronic condition in control by drinking more water, it inspires me every day to keep going.

6. Share your story. Consumers like to buy things that have stories behind them—and they can sniff out what’s authentic and what’s manufactured. I’m able talk to reporters pretty easily about why I started Hint, because it’s real. I think back to how I was feeling, and what the product was solving for me. I was shocked that there wasn’t something like Hint in the marketplace, when I felt it would be great for my family and for my friends.

7. Ask the big question. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, is my company creating something that’s worth talking about? If you can honestly answer yes, then you’re more than halfway there.