The mission statement is a crucial part in forming the foundation of your business. Whether your company is just you and your laptop, or a corporation with hundreds of employees, your company needs a mission, one that defines your company’s goals and focuses its efforts on what you hope to achieve in the future. As your company grows and changes, so should its mission statement, which should be modified when necessary. Without a mission, you and your employees will not have a clear directive, which can hold back your company’s best-laid plans and leave dreams unrealized.
The best mission statements contain several elements that convey a message stronger than the sum of its parts. We’re here to show you how to make a great one.
Important Elements Within the Mission Statement
To develop a complete mission statement, there are several things to do during the drafting process. Remember that this is a public-facing document, one that your clients and partners will reference throughout your future business dealings. With that in mind, it is crucial to:
- Write out everything you want for your business. From short-term goals to long-term dreams and everything in between, write it out. Put all of your thoughts on paper, and take time to read what you have written. You might have a lot to say, and it may take several pages, but that’s nothing to worry about. Get your thoughts out of your head and into the open. This helps you to identify how you perceive your company and its intended mission. This gets the creative juices flowing towards an eventual final draft.
- Frame your thoughts within a key theme. If the main goal of your business is to provide an exceptional service or product, make that the key theme. Whatever your theme, the mission statement should reflect it. This can help add a sense of worth, motivation and credibility to your mission statement.
- Get creative. This statement may be the first thing your new employees or customers read. You want to keep it professional, but don’t shy away from descriptive or animated sentences that speak to the personality of your brand.
- Edit it and review it with your team. Edit your mission statement down to 1 to 3 sentences, and be prepared to let others read it. Other readers could be people on your team or, if you are on your own, a friend or long-time customer. The statement should be easily understood and relatable to the person reading it. Ask for honest opinions, and use the feedback to make your mission statement stronger. For inspiration, here’s a link to mission statements collected from Fortune 500 companies.
- Polish the final version. Use the right words within your mission statement to concisely convey your mission. Because of the traditional size of a mission statement, each word is valuable, and “filler” words should be eliminated. Proper word selection will present an image for your intended audience and pull them into your vision.
- Reevaluate the statement on a regular basis. Your business will respond to changes over time. Those changes could be internal to the company (i.e. personnel changes, new product lines, a pivot, etc.) or come from external forces (a drop in demand, marketing to new customers, etc.), and they will influence your company’s direction. You don’t want your mission statement to reflect yesterday’s market, so take the time to amend and adapt it as necessary.
Cultivating Your Own, Unique Mission Statement
In order to create an accurate mission statement, you have to understand what comprises your company and what you want your company to achieve. When you visit a new company, either in person or online, there are questions you might unconsciously ask yourself about that company. Answering these questions determines whether or not you stay at the store or continue browsing on their site. In a sense, it’s appropriate that answers to these questions should also be considered when drafting your mission statement:
- What does the company have to offer?
- Why should someone choose this company over another?
- What does someone hope to achieve from interacting with this company?
- Do my customers and I share the same values?
- Am I the only one who wants this product or service?
No matter what your business does, your mission statement should answer these questions in a clear and concise way. Many times, a mission statement becomes a branding tool or can even become part of a marketing campaign, so that every time parts of the mission statement are communicated, the brand is clearly identified. In this case, market recognition is directly related to the quality of a mission statement within any organization.
While it might be easy to dismiss it as just a few sentences, a good mission statement reflects not only on the character of a business, but it is also a testament to the degree to which the brand pays attention to details. Because of that, you should spend more than a few minutes crafting one. Follow the steps above, and you’ll be well on your way to preparing a mission statement fit for the workshop and the boardroom.