Creating a mission statement can feel unimportant to the overwhelmed entrepreneur or small business owner. But, somewhere along the way, you realized you never figured out exactly who your company is. You might have a vague idea but not an official statement on what exactly your business does (or doesn’t) do.
People who find themselves in this position got here a couple of different ways. Their business grew fast or pivoted one to two times, or they will say yes to almost anything. Whatever the reason for your arriving at this point, you need to figure out who you are as a business. Mission statements are a powerful tool to help you get there.
What is a Mission Statement?
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of building a mission statement, we need to define what it is. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of a mission statement is:
something that states the purpose or goal of a business or organizationMerriam-Webster
Let’s expand upon that.
A mission statement is a clear, well-defined sentence (or two) of your outwards purpose. It states who you are as a business by explaining what you do, how you do it, and who it serves.
Sounds simple enough, right?
Remember, simple doesn’t mean easy. Our goal is to take the time, dig deep, and be intentional on who our business is. But, do not spend an enormous amount of time and energy on your mission statement, trying to create a perfect one. We do not want you to get stuck on this and not move forward in your business.
Mission Statements vs Vision Statements
When researching mission statements, the word vision statement will pop up. Sometimes the word vision statement is interchangeable with the word mission statement. It can be confusing; are these the same things?
A mission statement, as explained above, is the what, how, and who of your business. The vision statement is inspirational. It is what the company hopes to achieve by implementing its mission statement. It’s their business’ why. Missions statements and vision statements are connected but are two separate things.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of companies’ mission statement and vision statements.
Mission Statement: To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful
Vision Statement: To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.LinkedIn
Mission Statement: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
Vision Statement: Saving our home planetPatagonia
The mission statement of your business is the core of what you do while your vision statement is why you do it.
As entrepreneurs and business owners, vision statements are more vital to corporations. It is used to motivate and inspire their employees. Small business owners’ visions inspired them so much that they created a business around it. It is easier for us to know our vision statements by heart. If you want to create a vision statement, ask yourself, why did you start your business in the first place?
Why you need a Mission Statement
Understanding what mission statements are is the first step to creating one. You might find yourself skeptical on if creating a mission statement is worth your time. Trust me, it is. Here are the top reasons why you need to create a mission statement.
It gives your company direction
This is an essential aspect of what a mission statement can do. As a business owner, you are formally announcing what your company does, how it does it, and who it serves. It gives yourself, your employees, current and future customers a clear idea on exactly who your company is (and isn’t).
It aids in decision making
When a new opportunity or product idea happens, you can compare it to your mission statement. Is it aligned? If not, you pass. If it is, go for it! No more mulling over if you should do this new project or not. It makes your decision making simple by asking things in black and white terms. When you are clear on your mission internally, it is also evident in your products, services, marketing, and all communication.
It helps shape strategy
With a mission statement in place, you know what your business does and how you are going to do it. Anything that is not related to it is no longer a part of your business. Your strategy is to focus only products and services aligned with your mission statement. This aligned focus will help your company grow more efficiently and become more successful.
It focuses your future
As small business owners, our future is foggier than large corporations. We aren’t held accountable to a board or shareholders. By homing in on who we are as a business, we start to focus on both short and long-term growth. When you begin to set long term growth strategies, your future starts to become a little clearer.
It provides stability
When you and your team know who you are as a business, there is less instability. It can be very confusing for your team members if you keep bouncing around to unaligned products or services. Volatility does not promote employee satisfaction. People feel better when they know what to expect, and your mission statement gives them that.
How to write a Mission Statement
Step 1: Answer questions about your business
The first step in creating a mission statement is to answer simple questions about your business. When answering these questions, try to add in as much detail as possible. Keep in mind that boring but clear answers will always triumph over catchy buzzwords. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes to help yourself focus only on these questions.
Questions to help you create your business Mission Statement
- What problem is your business solving?
- How will you solve this problem?
- Who do you serve, and what are their qualities?
- What is unique about your solution?
- How do you earn money?
- Why would someone buy from you?
Step 2: Review & Edit
- Reread your answers and add in any details that you missed the first time around.
- Highlight or notate important words that stand out to you
- Cut the fluff – buzzwords and empty words have no room in your mission statement. Remember, we want this to be one sentence.
Step 3: Piece it together to create your Mission Statement.
- Start to add in the highlighted words to create a sentence. (I prefer to have one long sentence versus two sentences.)
- Read the sentence out loud and make changes as needed
Step 4: Share it for feedback & make changes
- Share it with a trusted advisor or partner – get their feedback and make changes
- If you have employees, share it with them to get their feedback. How does it make them feel? Are they excited?
Step 5: Share your Mission Statement with the world
This step is easy – put it EVERYWHERE! Think of everywhere you communicate about your business and put it there. Examples: website, social media pages, EVERYWHERE.
Examples of Business Mission Statements
When crafting your business mission statement, it is helpful to look at some examples. Notice how these mission statements are clear, concise, and useful.
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.”
Facebook: “To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”
PayPal: “To build the Web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution.”
Kickstarter: “To help bring creative projects to life.”
Trip Advisor: “To help people around the world plan and have the perfect trip.”
BBC: “To enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.”
Top 10 Tips for Mission Statements
When creating your business mission statement, remember these tips!
- Clear and concise statements will always triumph
- Do not include catchy buzzwords
- Do not create your mission statement in isolation: share it with your partner, peers, or mentor
- Double the use: Shorten your mission statement to create your tagline. These are fantastic to use when you have limited space. Examples include business cards, social media profile, letterhead, etc.
- Use it as your elevator pitch. Mission statements communicate what you do, how you do it, and for who you are doing it for which is what you need in your elevator pitch.
- Give yourself enough time to focus on creating your mission statement.
- But, don’t give yourself unlimited time trying to create the perfect mission statement.
- Good is good enough, and you can always update it down the road
- Think Long Term: Your mission statement may not reflect precisely where your business is right now. That is okay. It will point your business in the direction you want to head and help create strategic growth in your business.
- Have fun! As entrepreneurs and small business owners, we GET to create our mission statements versus having executives telling one to us.
Mission Statements are vital for all companies, especially for small businesses and entrepreneurs. By creating one, you are taking a massive step in the right direction for your company. Remember, a mission statement clearly defines your outwards purpose. It states who you are as a business by explaining what you do, how you do it, and for who you are serving.
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