Does your business have a mission statement?
A mission statement sets out the purpose and values of your organization. It details what your startup does for its shareholders, including customers, employees, and owners, and how it plans to deliver on its promises and connect everyone to your brand. This statement is usually brief, summed up in one sentence, inspiring, and uses inclusive language.
So, does your business have a mission statement? It doesn’t matter if the answer is ‘no’ or ‘this is a draft in progress’. Creating a mission statement for your startup takes a little time and thought. Everyone should be able to read this statement and understand the main goals and core competencies of your startup. At the same time, you want the statement to be compelling and interesting. It should express values that allow readers to resonate with the message, work to achieve those achievable goals, and live the mission of the company.
Let’s help us take that draft and turn it into a mission statement that clearly communicates your startup’s purpose and what your organization brings to the table.
Define your goal
Who are you? What are you doing? Why does your business exist?
Start from the beginning when writing your mission statement. Detail who or what your business is, describe what the business does, and explain how the business does it. Answering these questions will allow you to define your “why” for being in business and allow you to better share your purpose.
Granted, answering these questions can accidentally position you to write an essay on what makes your business unique.
Reduce clutter and pay attention to clarity and conciseness. Focus on four key elements of your mission statement: value, inspiration, plausibility, and uniqueness.
For example, consider sharing reasonable accomplishments your business can achieve. This ties in with the element of plausibility. You can also share how your business plans to help others, what inspires you and your team, and what keeps you focused on the bigger picture.
Share your values
As you set your goal, you may find that your answers begin to express your core values. Write down the values that matter to you and your business.
For example, let’s say your business sells snack foods. These snacks are similar to potato chips, but they are plant-based foods. Besides being nutritious, your business also cares about the types of ingredients used to make the snacks. The company can commit to good sustainability practices by working alongside farmers and other sources who can ensure the snacks are delicious and of high quality.
So you wouldn’t just say in your mission statement that you are selling a plant-based snack. You could stress that your snacks are nutritious or made with cruelty-free ingredients. Or you can also highlight how these healthy snacks are available to everyone and the company is committed to sustainability. Focus on one or two core values to include in your mission statement.
Now take a look at your mission statement. You will notice that the statement begins to bloom after you include your core values. However, this is not yet fully written!
Be action oriented
Sharing your purpose and values in your mission statement doesn’t have to be stagnant in nature. The audience shouldn’t stop reading your mission statement with the impression that there is no movement behind it. Emphasize to the public that your business is actively working towards achieving its purpose and values by using radiant words.
The average length of a mission statement is 29 words and does not exceed 100 words. Once you’ve put aside the words you want to convey your purpose and values, add radiant words.
Remember that a radiant word is not the same concept as a buzzword or complicated business jargon. Radiant words are alive, colorful and exciting. Audiences who hear a radiant word are better able to visualize the business.
Tesla is an example of a mission statement that does it exceptionally well. Their mission statement is “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”.
“Accelerate” is the radiant keyword. It works both as a pun and highlights that Tesla’s active pursuit of delivering clean electric vehicles to the public
Radiant words, like outrageous, sizzling, or amazed, motivate audiences not to just see the company and its offerings. It also inspires them to take action and be part of the movement.
Remember: mission statements are not vision statements
Sometimes a mission statement is confused with a vision statement. Do the two terms mean the same thing?
The answer is no. Mission statements are anchored in the moment. Vision statements, on the other hand, are forward-looking. These statements focus on what the company aspires to be after its mission is accomplished.
Should you also write a vision statement? There is nothing wrong with determining and defining a vision statement for your startup. However, it is important to understand the difference between the two statements and to focus as a priority on the statement that you want to represent your business at this time. Usually this means developing a mission statement before you start writing a vision statement.
Mission statement: next steps
What happens after you have a draft of your mission statement? Communicate the statement to members of your team (if you have employees who work for your company), share it with clients, and make sure you live up to the values and mission reflected in it every day you are in business.
Deborah Sweeney is Managing Director and Vice President of Small Business Services at Deluxe Corporation. She advocates for the protection of personal and professional property of business owners and entrepreneurs.
The Small Business Development Center at Western New Mexico University provides assistance to anyone interested in starting, improving or expanding a small business. The SBDC specializes in free confidential and individual advice and low cost training. Call 575-583-6320 for an appointment with a business advisor, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found at http://www.nmsbdc.org/silver-city.aspx
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