How to Create a Powerful Mission Statement
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One of the key factors in running a successful business is having a well-defined purpose. A purpose gives your business a clear direction. It helps to focus your finite attention and resources: it prevents you from becoming distracted and veering off track. A purpose also helps to distinguish you from your competition: it communicates how you intend on doing things differently. A mission statement is an excellent way of communicating that purpose.
Your business’ mission statement is an important part of a brand. It’s a declaration of how you intend on providing value to your customers and of how you’ll make a positive impact in the world. A mission statement is also part of your internal brand. It helps to motivate yourself and the people you work with and can be a highly effective tool for attracting like-minded people to your organisation as you grow.
With all this in mind, this post explores how to create a powerful mission statement how doing so will benefit your business.
How Do You Write a Business Mission Statement?
Let’s being by looking at how to approach writing a mission statement for your business, starting with why you should write one in the first place.
Why Does a Business Need a Mission Statement?
Your business needs a mission statement to focus your activity and to determine the best use of your time and resources. Your mission statement outlines your business’ purpose and the action you need to take to achieve it.
Another reason a business needs a mission statement is to strengthen its identity. Your mission statement adds ‘character’ to your company, providing consumers and employees with a better idea of why you’re in business and what you’re trying to accomplish.
Here are a few examples of mission statements from well-known organisations:
- Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy;
- LinkedIn: Connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful;
- Disney: To entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company;
- Body Shop: The Body Shop exists to fight for a fairer, more beautiful world
What A Mission Statement Should Accomplish
Your mission statement should communicate to your target market, as clearly and concisely as possible, what your business’ purpose is. More specifically, what your business does and how it achieves this. It should also outline your value proposition: what consumers stand to benefit from purchasing your products or services.
Your business’ mission statement also needs to strike a balance between being aspirational and realistic. It needs to be ambitious enough to provoke emotions, both within consumers and the people that work for you (as well as within yourself). That being said, it also needs to be grounded in reality so you’re not overpromising.
What Are the Key Elements of a Mission Statement?
Your mission statement should have four main elements.
- Value: How does what you do bring value to your customers? What problem do you solve or what need do you fulfil?
- Inspiration: Why should consumers be compelled to purchase you’re your company instead of your competition? Similarly, what would make talented individuals want to work for your company instead of somewhere similar?
- Plausibility: In outlining what your company does and what you hope to achieve, you need to make it sound realistic.
- Specificity: Make your statement about your company in particular.
What Are the Important Key Points in Writing a Business Mission Statement?
- Clear and concise: Make it easy to grasp and remember, as it’s more likely to leave an impression.
- Talk about what you do: Describe what your company does. Not in terms of what your product or services do but the benefits or value they provide. Think about paper towels, for example, you don’t buy them because you want tissues but because you want a quick way to clean your hands or face, to wipe down surfaces, etc.
- Think long-term: Your mission statement has to reflect your long-term goals – even it’s not what you’re currently capable of. After all, missions often take a while to complete.
- Involving your employees: When putting your mission statement together, collaborate with everyone that works for your company. There’s a great chance that they’ll have insights and small distinctions about the business that you don’t. More importantly, as they had a hand in crafting your business mission statement, they’ll have a sense of ownership in it, as opposed to being handed something that they’re now supposed to abide by. Also, be sure to ask new employees what they think of it – you could even ask potential recruits what they think of it as an interview question.
- Keep it flexible: Don’t be afraid to amend your mission statement as your business grows, you move into new areas, or if your purpose becomes clearer.
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What Is the Difference Between a Mission Statement from A Vision Statement?
In one of our previous posts, we delved into how to write a compelling vision statement and how doing so will benefit your business. So, the question is, how does a mission statement differ from a vision statement?
Though the two terms are often used interchangeably and are frequently combined to make a single statement, there’s actually a difference between the two.
Differences Between Mission Statements and Vision Statements
A vision statement outlines where your company hopes to be in the future. It describes your vision of the impact and difference your business will make if you continue to progress and grow as an organisation. Your mission statement, meanwhile, describes what you plan to do to bring about that vision.
Put another way, your vision statement is what you ultimately want; your mission statement is what you’re doing to get what you want. Carrying out your mission statement should lead to the realisation of your vision statement.
How To Create Powerful And Inspiring Vision and Mission Statements
Mission statements are similar to vision statements, in that they both look at the bigger picture. However, your mission statement should be more concrete and action-oriented than your vision statements. Here are a few more points to consider when writing your mission and vision statements, as well as a few more distinctions between the two:
- Vision statement
◦ As it describes where and what you want to be, so it’s wise to write it before the mission statement.
◦ Talks about the future – what the world will be like as a result of your products or services.
◦ Talks in terms of effect
◦ Should be inspirational
◦ Should inspire people to dream
- Mission statement
◦ Talks about the present – what your company does in an effort to realise its vision
◦ Talks in terms of cause
◦ Should be informative
◦ Should inspire them to action
What Is a Good Mission Statement?
Now we have a greater appreciation of what a mission statement is and how it’s different from a vision statement, let’s look into what makes a good mission statement.
What Makes a Good Mission Statement?
A good mission statement should have the following characteristics:
A clear and concise declaration of your business’ purpose: It should contain a summarised version of your business strategy, namely what you do and how you do it.
Be rooted in the present: It should describe what you’re currently doing to achieve your ultimate objectives as a company. This is in contrast to your vision statement that looks to the future.
For a good example of this, let’s take a look at Amazon’s mission statement: “We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience”. Strive to offer refers to what they’re currently doing. In comparison, their vision statement says, “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online”, which refers to the future.
It should be measurable: Your mission statement should be measurable. You, as well as your customers, should be able to compare your statement to what you deliver as a company and determine whether you’re hitting the mark or not.
Visible: Now, this isn’t strictly something that contributes to creating a good mission statement but rather what makes it valuable. You want – no need – your mission statement to be visible. Your customers need to see it in your branding, whether on your website, on promotional materials, business cards, in your email signature, etc. Similarly, it needs to be on display in your business for your employees, so it becomes part of your company’s DNA.
Four Critical Questions
Another way to strengthen your mission statement is to ensure it answers the following four questions about your business:
What Do We Do?
First and foremost, your mission statement must state what your company does.
How Do We Do It?
Following on closely from what you do is how you do it. Take the start of Disney’s mission statement as an example: “To entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling.” There are plenty of ways to entertain, inform, or inspire but Disney’s forte, and therefore, their purpose, is to do that through storytelling.
Who Do We Do It For?
Who is your target market? And are there separate audiences within that market? What kind of person stands to benefit the most from using your product or service? If there is a particular group such as people of a particular gender, age, or who live in a certain area, mention them in your mission statement. This allows the appropriate people to read and subsequently relate to it. The desired reaction is “Hey, that’s me! I need that product or service”.
What Value Are We Bringing?
Express the value your business brings customers in terms of an output or outcome – what the consumer gets as a result of using your product or service. As they say, a person that buys a drill doesn’t want the tool itself – they’re after the holes that it makes. What do your customers get from purchasing from your company? What need of theirs is met or which of their problems is solved with your products or services?
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Despite the importance of your mission statement and how much it can mean to your business, creating one doesn’t have to be a mission in itself! It all comes down to finding a compelling way of describing what your business does and how those actions are contributing to your ultimate vision.
Remember, that your mission statement is all about clearly and concisely describing your company’s purpose: why you do what you do. Even though your completed vision statement will inspire your customers and employees alike, the process of creating is equally as motivational. It’ll get you thinking about why you started your business in the first place, what you hope to achieve, and what you could be capable of if you continue to press forward and grow.
Steve Jaenke is the Founder & CEO of Digimark and a judge for the Australia Web Awards. He has a strong background in social psychology, design, and SEO. Steve is a futurist with a great love of technology, but also deeply believes in the importance of taking action in the present to enact a better future.