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Why Your Business Needs a Mission Statement

Andrew Adams

When building a small business, it is easy to overlook the importance of having a solid strategy andbusiness plan. Who has time to take away from keeping the phones ringing to write down a plan?

It's not uncommon to get caught up in the moment and forget about thinking long-term. However, business planning plays a crucial role in deep-rooted success, and a mission statement can help guide all the decisions you make as a company.

Your mission statement will also be something you can look back on during the hard times to remind yourself of why you started this business in the first place.

What is a Mission Statement?

A mission or purpose statement is used both by big corporations and small businesses to explain their goals in simple and concise terms. This description is generally short, ranging from a brief sentence to a paragraph. A mission statement should define your company's core values, ethics, culture, and fundamental goals. It serves a dual purpose. While it is meant to motivate your employees and help them remain focused and productive, it also reassures your investors of the company's future. It can also be a way to include the diverse backgrounds that your employees might have into one single purpose.

How Does a Mission Statement Work?

A good mission statement allows employers, employees, distributors, suppliers, investors, and other community members to stay on the same page. It's an excellent way to ensure they all keep their values and goals aligned with those of your company. This declaration also explains what, how, and why your organization does what it does for those who don't know you. It can provide a welcoming handshake for others to do business with you.

A company's mission statement is part of a company's public face and a baseline in effective business planning. ‌That's why many companies spend lots of time, effort, and money in getting theirs right. Developing and refining your mission statement in-house and gathering employee input can be a valuable team-building exercise. It can create a sense of shared ownership that inspires everyone to work together towards a common goal.

Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement: What's the Difference?

People often confuse mission and vision statements, but they're not at all the same thing. The mission statement represents a company's identity - who the company is and aspires to be in the long run. On the other hand, the vision statement outlines what the company must do to accomplish the mission. A vision statement is more of a concept looking toward the future vs. driving the business with guiding principles every day.

Why Do I Need a Mission Statement?

Every business that wants to be successful needs to have a mission statement. This will help unify the efforts of all employees toward the same long-term goals. Your mission statement must be broad enough so that it's relatable to all members across your organization while still drawing interest in the solutions your company offers. A properly crafted mission statement will help:

Create Identity and Direction

A mission statement is a great contributor to the company's brand. It createsthe core identity of a company. The sense of unity it encourages often seeps through to clients and other external parties. Your company's mission statement will help differentiate you from your competitors and provide a clear idea of who you are as a brand. That identity can help lead anybusiness planning process as well.

Your company's mission statement ultimately serves as a North Star that helps guide everyone in the same direction. It reminds your teams why the company exists and what their purpose is as part of the team.

Attract Talent and Promote Company Culture

Your mission statement can be the determining factor in your business becoming someone's dream company. It is a great tool to attract like-minded individuals who share goals with you and may want to apply for a job there. It can also help inspire employees to do their job better once they're fully on board.

If you want the workplace environment at your organization to develop positively, having a solid mission statement is key. It provides a way to express your company culture and guide it in the right direction. When built correctly, your mission statement should communicate the values that will direct your employees' actions.

Provide a Decision-Making Template

If your mission statement is clear, it will set boundaries that will help you delegate authority and responsibility effectively. If everyone's on the same page, you can trust every member of your organization to make the appropriate decisions to stir the ship on the right path.

You may consider having your mission statement posted at your business or go over it frequently with employees. The more you include it in your daily work, the more it will become a part of who you are and help make future decisions.

Build Community

Your mission statement will allow you to connect with your customers, investors, and business partners on a deeper level. It will help them understand your posture better and align their values with yours. An impactful declaration of purpose is what you need to resonate with your community and establisha strong reputation and positive brand associations.

Improve Performance and Evaluation

With a clear purpose in mind, it's much easier for employees at all levels to improve their job performance. A mission statement is a great way to motivate everyone in your company to look forward to achieving significant business milestones and pitch in with high-quality work. Having your employees hold high standards, both individually and collectively, is great for your organization's long-term plans for growth.

A clearly written mission statement will give you a better idea of how to measure success. It will set up standards for your employees to follow and will set the bar for business expectations in the long run. Your mission statement encourages critical thinking and lets people reflect on the influence their individual actions have on short and long-term business goals. If you're all on the same wavelength, you'll be able to build better criteria to assess those actions and give proper feedback.

Align Behaviors and Shape Strategy

Mission statements help connect your employees and align themtoward the same goals. They allow your employees to keep their behaviors consistent with what's expected in every situation. Aligned actions ensure every department within your company knows what to do and works together with less chance of miscommunication.

It's a fact that your business requires a strategy to flourish. But on top of just looking at textbook success methods or analyzing what your competitors are doing, how about you check out their mission statement? If you know what they want to achieve, you may be able to come up with a clear plan to get there faster and better.

How To Write a Mission Statement

No two mission statements are the same. They can range in length and structure to suit a brand's identity. However, all mission statements should be concise and efficient. After all, you don't want to lose your audience's attention when explaining where your company is going.

Mission statements can change over time. Yet, it's good practice to establish your mission statement's essence from the start and review it periodically to ensure it still articulates your organizational purpose. A robust mission statement uses clear, simple, and compelling language. It should be:

  • Unique

  • Strategic

  • Persuasive

  • Achievable

A poorly crafted mission statement probably has too many buzzwords and business jargon. This makes it hard to understand and - most importantly - hard to relate with. Moreover, a good mission statement should reflect realistic goals in order to improve and maintain employee morale. You should focus your statement on:

  • The value your business brings to your customers and employees.

  • The reasons why people love working in your company.

  • The plausibility of your goals.

Once you have these factors clear, you can get down to business. Remember to seek employee input to make your declarations more relatable for the members of your organization. Then follow these simple steps to craft a winner mission statement.

1. Outline What Your Company Does

Focus on your products and services. Describe what you provide to your customers that other businesses don't. Here you can define what makes your company run.

2. Describe How You Do Business

Forget about the parts of the business, though. Keep it authentic and simple, and explain the values behind what you do. Whether it is your product or service's quality, your unmatchable customer service, your hunger for innovation, or your company's sustainability, you need to make it clear what makes you stand out from other alternatives in the market.

3. Delimit the Reasons Behind Your Actions

Here's where you appeal to the heart. Instead of looking like a soulless corporation, you can incorporate a few declarations into your mission statement that explain why you do what you do. This will further set you apart from others in the industry.

Dos and Don'ts for Creating Great Mission Statements

How you decide to build your mission statement depends on your business nature andfuture growth plans. There's no one-size-fits-all formula to getting it right. However, there are some clear dos and don'ts you should consider.

Do

  • Keep it short and concise

  • Make it memorable

  • Include attainable goals

  • Think deep into the future

  • Keep your employees in mind

  • Ask around for input

Don't

  • Write an essay

  • Make it too limiting

  • Be afraid to tweak it as your business evolves

‌Once you've drafted your mission statement, have someone else give it a once over. Edit it and revise it as much as needed. When it's ready, you can incorporate it into your website, ad campaigns, internal communications, and anywhere it can be visible to all relevant parties.

Good Mission Statement Examples

Now that you know the importance of a well-written mission statement and how to craft your own, you can get down to work. Here are some examples of successful mission statements for inspiration.

Apple
"To bring the best personal computing products and support to students, educators, designers, scientists, engineers, businesspersons, and consumers in over 140 countries around the world.”

Facebook
"To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together."

Patagonia
"We’re in business to save our home planet."

Honest Tea
"To create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages."

IKEA
"To create a better everyday life for the many people."

JetBlue
"To inspire humanity - both in the air and on the ground."

Prezi
"To reinvent how people share knowledge, tell stories, and inspire their audiences to act."

Tesla
"To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy."

TED
"Spread ideas."

Southwest Airlines
"The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.”

Urban Outfitters
‌“A lifestyle retailer dedicated to inspiring customers through a unique combination of product, creativity, and cultural understanding. Founded in 1970 in a small space across the street from the University of Pennsylvania, Urban Outfitters now operates over 200 stores in the United States, Canada, and Europe, offering experiential retail environments and a well-curated mix of women’s, men’s, accessories, and home product assortments.”‌

REI
‌“At Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived. We believe that it’s in the wild, untamed, and natural places that we find our best selves, so our purpose is to awaken a lifelong love of the outdoors, for all.”

Starbucks
‌“To inspire and nurture the human spirit - one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”

Walgreens
‌“Walgreens’ mission is to be America’s most-loved pharmacy-led health, well-being, and beauty retailer. Its purpose is to champion everyone’s right to be happy and healthy.”‌

Slack
‌“Make work-life simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.”

The Coca-Cola Company
‌“Refresh the world. Make a difference.”‌

Asana
‌“Asana’s mission is to help humanity thrive by enabling the world’s teams to work together effortlessly.”‌

LinkedIn
“To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful."‌

PayPal
“To build the web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution.”‌

Amazon
“To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”

Nike
“Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.*

Nordstrom
“To give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.”

American Express
“We work hard every day to make American Express the world’s most respected service brand.”‌

Your mission statement is the foundation of your business strategy. Having a clear purpose will help you delimit how to achieve your company's long-term goals while keeping all your employees on board. Once you have your mission statement ready, it will be easier to define other aspects of your business plan, including yourmarketing strategy.

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