Auntie Anne’s Pretzels

This week, I was preparing my lesson plans for the college course I teach on missional entrepreneurship.  After reviewing Guy Kawaski’s TED talk on “The Art of the Start” and thinking about his insistence on making mission statements state why you exist in 3-4 words, I came across a case study profile of Anne Beiler, entrepreneur behind Auntie Anne’s Pretzels.

The story dates back to 1988, in Gap, PA, where Anne discovered something while preparing food to sell at the farmer’s market in Amish country, Pennsylvania. Out of her oven appeared a soft pretzel which she did not like, but her innovative spirit set to work to tweak things until she heard her customers, “wow”!

The next years involved the rejection from several banks because she wanted to give away profits. Then, came the cash of an angel investor, lots of vision, and plenty of courage.  Today there are over 1,200 franchises in North America, plus 600 worldwide. As a follower of Jesus, it was important to Anne that she be mission-driven and she began with long mission statements, which described a Kingdom Business.

But, she soon realized she wanted something short and easy to remember, and a team of company employees came up with what they saw as inherent values demonstrated by the owners.  It was the word, LIGHT which stands for:

  • Lead by example
  • Invest in others
  • Give freely
  • Honor God
  • Treat others with respect

Interesting, though not exactly a typical mission statement, nor the 3-4 words that Kawaski likes, but an interesting tagline perhaps.  Next time you pick up an Auntie Anne’s in an airport, think of LIGHT – five great elements of a successful business.

Larry W. Sharp, BAM Support Specialist, IBEC Ventures

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