The Five Principles of Mars & How To Incorporate Them in Your Business

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More than 100 years ago, a young Franklin C. Mars started making candies in his Tacoma, Washington kitchen. From that simple beginning, his son Forrest built Mars Inc. into the household name is today.

The Five Principles of Mars

Being well known for products such as Skittles, Snickers, Twix and the iconic M&M’s; what can we learn from the 6th largest privately held company in the United States that earns over $35 Billion dollars per year?

To answer that question, let’s look at “The Five Principles”; that Mars Incorporated published in 1983 and which is the key to their culture. Their 100,000+ employees strive to live by these principles each and every day and they serve as a compass to help guide their business decisions.

Quality

The consumer is our boss, quality is our work and value for money is our goal.

How to incorporate this principle into your business:

There is no substitute for quality. No trendy headquarters, famous spokesperson, flashy ad or marketing ploy, can take the place of a quality product or service. Let quality and value be your calling card and be thankful for the consumer’s willingness to choose your business over all others.

Responsibility

All associates are asked to take direct responsibility for results, to exercise initiative and judgment and to make decisions as required. By recruiting ethical people well suited to their jobs and trusting them, we ask associates to be accountable for their own high standards.

How to incorporate this principle into your business:

Asking your employees to take direct responsibility for results can only be achieved by hiring the best result-oriented candidates who share the company’s mission. They must be trained well, and often, and given clear expectations plus the tools to get the job done. The final step, as stated above, is trust.

We can’t expect an employee to take responsibility for the company’s success when management doesn’t allow for learning experiences (failure, assessment & success) that shape their core goals.

Mutuality

A mutual benefit is a shared benefit; a shared benefit will endure. The actions of Mars should never be at the expense, economic or otherwise, of others with whom we work.

How to incorporate this principle into your business:

Management will continually discuss the need to “work as a team”. HR employees write missives laying-out the recommended path to create a positive team atmosphere. All employees have heard that call.

But, does management understand how their actions negatively affect the team mindset when they understaff to save on payroll or delay the purchase of equipment until the next accounting period? Probably not. They focus on budget and fiscal requirements as a primary goal.

A mutual benefit focus also allows for the negative business aspects to be shared across the board so no single employee(s) or department must bear the brunt of that challenge. This is a unique take on the responsibilities of teamwork.

Efficiency

We use resources to the full, waste nothing and do only what we can do best. Our strength lies in our efficiency, the ability to organize all our assets – physical, financial and human – for maximum productivity. In this way, our products and services are made and delivered with the highest quality, at the least possible cost, with the lowest consumption of resources; similarly, we seek to manage all our business operations with the most efficient processes for decision making.

How to incorporate this principle into your business:

I love the first line of this principle; “do only what we can do best”. This should be followed by all businesses.

We cannot be efficient or productive when stepping outside our core to please everyone. Employees and society at large appreciate businesses that operate in a manner aligned with a common goal, especially one that is not wasteful or negligent.

If we wonder why a business like Mars is so successful the answer is right here – efficiency in all areas.

Freedom

We need freedom to shape our future; we need profit to remain free.

Mars is one of the world’s largest privately-owned corporations. This private ownership is a deliberate choice. Many other companies began as Mars did, but as they grew larger and required new sources of funds, they sold stocks or incurred restrictive debt to fuel their business. To extend their growth, they exchanged a portion of their freedom. We believe growth and prosperity can be achieved another way.

How to incorporate this principle into your business:

Not every business has the luxury of being self-funded as they grow. The desire to expand and the allure of a new influx of capital may create “partnerships” that seem to be of initial benefit but may force the company direction away from service and toward profitability as the ultimate goal.

This doesn’t even take into consideration the “WHY”, as Simon Sinek reasons, a business is “in business” in the first place.

Lofty goals of changing the world, preserving the environment or providing services to the less fortunate are masked in the need to provide shareholder value and returns.

The freedom attained when one is self-funded sets the course for the future. Take this as a luxury, not a burden. As the principle of mutuality states, doing only what you can do best is a requirement when operating within your means.

This allows for peace of mind by knowing your experience and past practices can weather any storm. No need to “keep up with the Joneses” and chase the latest fad or craze. You can put aside the mountain of legal documents your “new partners” bestow on you. You have no need for them.

You will not be tempted to enter the marketplace with a product that is not cost-effective to produce, just because the high expectations of growth are upon you. You can sleep well at night.

The freedom to shape your future gives comfort to the operation and allow for a sustained and controllable growth. Employees know their job and will reach, and surpass, expectations. Employees’ wages will rise and profits soar, allowing for measured expansion and increased productivity.

The future looks bright because of the freedom you possess. It fuels ingenuity and advancement; overcomes hurdles and regulatory burdens, and provides products and service for the masses.

Every business starts with an idea and that idea is nurtured by hope, vision, and a willingness to do all you can to satisfy your “Why”.

It seems like “The Five Principles” of Mars is a roadmap for success that we should follow. So, stay true to YOUR 5 principals and find your “why”.

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