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Getting Back to Your Company's Roots

Do your problems stem from a lost company mission?

About a year ago, one of my companies was in trouble: Sales were down, we had no new products, morale was rotten and my best people were leaving.

Obviously, there was a weakness in leadership. The CEO and his team weren't in touch with the staff or the customers. They hadn't developed any new lines of distribution; instead, they went back to our established customers, demanding more sales. There weren't any new marketing initiatives, and the CEO brought in a new marketing manager who was rude to the existing marketing team and clueless about our products.

Eventually, the CEO and his team had to be replaced. It took three months, but the rat's nest was finally cleared. Today, the company has turned around: Sales are up, profits are strong and morale is good.

The difference? Mission. The company's mission had been trampled on and forgotten. Without the mission, the spirit of the company was gone. Once the mission was reinstated, the company regained its life force and began to grow. (I discuss the importance of mission as part of the B-I Triangle in Rich Dad, Poor Dad.)

The other day, I was on a South African radio interview with my entrepreneurial hero Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin brand empire. Branson and I talked about our companies and why we were doing business in South Africa. It was clear he was very much in touch with his corporate mission. At one point, he said, "I'm entering the South African economy to take on the incumbents. They're making too much money." It was clear he was sincere about his desire to treat South African consumers fairly.

I was in Australia when Branson entered the Australian airline business. He took on the established incumbents there, too. It didn't take Virgin long to win over Australian travelers. And once Branson had convinced the Australians of his corporate sincerity, he took on the incumbents in other businesses. Being true to its mission is one reason Virgin is such a powerful global brand.

My rich dad warned me about hiring corporate leaders to take over an entrepreneurial business. He said, "Most corporate leaders pay lip service to the founder's mission. Without the entrepreneur's spirit, the company dies and turns into a corpse-o-ration--a business without a spirit." If your company is dying in spirit or bottom-line profitability, put your entrepreneurial strengths--passion, drive and creativity--to work. Focus your attention on the lifeblood of thriving businesses: your mission.

Robert Kiyosaki, author of the Rich Dad series of books, is an investor, entrepreneur, and educator whose perspectives have changed the way people think about money and investing.

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This article was originally published in the December 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Back to Your Roots .

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