People Like Us Do Things Like This, Part 1
What it means to be a Chenmark company
A few months ago we had the pleasure of listening to Seth Godin speak at a food industry trade show and his commentary on culture and belonging resonated because it aligned closely with many of our own recent internal discussions.
When we first started Chenmark we thought about our mission largely from an investment and deal making perspective. We wanted to buy good companies and desired to build the type of firm that other sellers would seek out. To this day, our desire to be “the liquidity provider of choice for North American small businesses” is still very much intact. However, now that we own several companies, we recognize that our original mission communicates nothing about our intentions for our companies post deal. More importantly, we have realized that our status as a preferred counterparty will always be an outcome of our behavior rather than a cause of it. We can’t wake up one morning and say ‘today is the day people will want to do business with us’. We can, however, make deliberate decisions about how we want to define success, what we want to stand for, and most crucially, who we want to stand with us. As a result, we now think about the mission of Chenmark less in terms of an entity to be built and more in terms of a culture and community to define. So, what is Chenmark? Put simply, we are a team of small businesses committed to each other and to the constant pursuit of better. Our shared values mean we always work to:
This is the concept at the heart of the Chenmark ethos. We believe that progress equals happiness and we understand that the pursuit of progress requires three essential ingredients. First, we must believe unequivocally in our own and our company’s potential. Put another way, we must believe we have the capacity to improve.
Second, we must understand that change is a steady, incremental process. Good things happen gradually so that great things can happen all at once. To be successful, we must have the discipline to make the small, daily, but sometimes hard decisions that will add up to massive success over time.
Third, we must understand that chasing better means pushing boundaries, and pushing boundaries means taking risks and being uncomfortable. The path to positive change is never linear; in fact, if we aren’t periodically failing or making mistakes, we likely aren’t trying hard enough. We must embrace this risk taking and develop the grit necessary to handle the periodic set back and keep moving forward.
Finally, pursuing better requires a sense of urgency. We live in a competitive world that changes fast. If we take a casual stroll towards our potential, someone else might get there first. We choose to chase better because we want to be the type of company that is running, not walking, toward greatness.
We care about winning and we believe in the power of competition. We also understand that the scoreboard doesn’t lie. So, part of our pursuit of success involves a passion for tracking results. Importantly, keeping score doesn’t mean accepting a single result as a final judgement. We must be able to meet victory and defeat and “treat those two imposters just the same”. When we win, we celebrate and look for ways to repeat the same behaviors. When we lose, we don’t manage the message because we value the opportunity to learn from the experience and remain confident that we can come back stronger and more prepared the next time.
A commitment to keeping score also means we acknowledge that data is more valuable than anecdote or opinion, especially as our companies expand. We are committed to the continual process of identifying and tracking the important statistics in our companies and always experimenting with new ways to gain insight into our progress.
Because we value keeping score and believe in the importance of data, we also commit to the timely and accurate production of the data itself and we always look for ways to gain better, more accurate feedback, faster.
We will share the other Chenmark values next week.
Are you trying to improve? Do you believe you can? Are you committed to the discipline and persistence required to make positive lasting change? Are you comfortable with the failure risk associated with attempting to be great, and with holding yourself accountable to the results?
If you can answer "yes" to these questions, and are looking for an opportunity to have a tangible impact on a small business, get in touch. We are looking for tough, smart people to join our team.