Definitions from Graham Kenny’s “Your Company’s Purpose Is Not Its Vision, Mission, or Values.” Harvard Business Review Special Issue: How to Lead with Purpose (2020)

VISION: what the organization wishes to be like in some years’ time.

First Avenue Ventures strives to be the go-to for entrepreneurs in Birmingham. We want to be a trusted partner for entrepreneurs as they grow their companies from ideas through the seed and early capital stages. We want to be the thought leader and #1 champion for Birmingham (and possibly Alabama) startups.

MISSION: what business the organization is in (and what it isn’t) both now and projecting into the future.

First Avenue Ventures is in the startup business. We aren’t not in the financial business. So while we strive to help entrepreneurs find funding, if that is a need, we do not provide that funding. We are not a bank or loan apparatus. We are a professional services firm for startups and their founders.

VALUES: describes the desired culture.

We value honesty, transparency, ingenuity, empathy and authenticity. We do not tell people what they want to hear. We tell people what they need to hear. All of our communications are guided by the principles of respect and empathy. We know that startups are hard work, and we honor that hard work. We see mistakes as stepping stones to success, not failures.

PRINCIPLES: give employees a set of directions in relation to values.

Listen before you speak. Meet the other person where they are. Acknowledge intention as well as action. Recognize that everyone makes mistakes. Support thinking outside the box. There are no stupid questions. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

PURPOSE: the company’s “philosophical heartbeat;” a way to express the organization’s impact on the lives of whomever you’re trying to serve.

We help people succeed. We want people to reach their goals by always striving to be the best version of themselves. We invest in people, not companies, knowing that great people with access to excellent resources build great companies.