How to Write a Great Mission Statement, Step by Step

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Just because your business is small doesn’t mean it doesn’t have big dreams. Starting your own small business requires taking risks, working long hours, and most likely making personal and financial sacrifices.

Most entrepreneurs wouldn’t take risks without having some sort of passion, core values, or beliefs about improving the world or their community. Often it’s passion, values ​​and beliefs that drive them to create their startup, whether it’s creating an app to help families stay connected remotely or making the world’s most sustainable vegan pizza. .

A business plan defines how you’re going to run your business (yes, that’s also important), but a mission statement helps you define that passion and purpose.

What is a good mission statement?

A company’s mission statement captures its purpose and proclaims it to the world. It is a short statement that articulates the “why” and the “how” of the company.

There’s a lot riding on the mission statement. An effective mission statement is a powerful tool to guide effective decision-making, create company culture, attract and retain employees and customers, inform your marketing and advertising messages, and help you build a strong brand.

This should serve as your “north star”, keeping everyone in your company together and working towards the same goal. With a clear vision of your mission, you can develop scalable and repeatable business processes that allow your business to grow more or less orderly. Without it, you risk encountering communication breakdowns, inconsistent delivery of your products and services, and chaos as you try to grow.

Build a high-quality mission statement

Companies sometimes combine mission and vision statements. Technically, these are two different ideas: a mission statement defines the company’s goals and how it will achieve them, while a vision statement talks about the future state of the company, and maybe even the world. . However, some companies combine their mission and vision into one statement.

There’s no one right way to do it. So, before you start creating your mission statement, we suggest you review some sample mission statements. Start with big brands like Amazon, Patagonia, and Coca-Cola. Then find out which brands you expect to compete with to inspire you to craft your mission statement. If you’re feeling lost, you can use a mission statement template to get you started!

Some brands choose to focus their mission statement on their company’s impact on the world, while others stick more to defining what the company does and how it benefits its customers. . One thing to keep in mind is that in a large company, a mission and vision exercise will typically involve dozens of people and outside agencies to design, draft and polish different versions of the statement or statements until that all stakeholders are aligned. What you see is the world-class winning version. There were no doubt other unchosen versions that some people preferred.

The point is, don’t dwell on perfection. Your mission statement will be unique, just like your business.

How to Write a Mission Statement

The exercise of creating a mission statement can be powerful. This will certainly lead to in-depth reflection and debate on the company, its values, its direction and its vision for the future. If you’re considering making this decision with a business partner or team, it’s a good idea to set up a process beforehand to ensure that everything is engaged and the discussion is constructive.

Decide on a process

The first thing you will need to decide is who should be involved. Are you just running the show? You and the co-owner? A few team leaders and key employees?

While you probably don’t want to involve every person in the business, everyone on your leadership team should participate in the exercise and ideally align with the outcome. You can also include clients, board members, advisors, and perhaps some key team members. To get the best result, it’s wise to include a diverse group of people who will have different perspectives on the business.

After bringing the group together, decide how you would like them to be involved. Perhaps you want to send out a questionnaire to a wide range of people, compile the responses, and then present them to a smaller group who will work together to write the statement. Or maybe you’d like a writer to jot down responses and create drafts for discussion before meeting with you.

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Set aside dedicated time for group discussion, but don’t leave it endless. Define a process and an outcome. For example, we’ll block out three hours to brainstorm and write down a few options, and then we’ll vote on one. Or, we’ll vote on our top three drafts and test them on a defined group of stakeholders, collect feedback, and reconvene for a final vote. Appoint a moderator or facilitator to keep the group on track.

If you are a very small business, you may only need three people in a room for a few hours. For a medium-sized business with multiple stakeholders, you may need to use strategic planning, or even bring in an outside firm to ensure all viewpoints are included.

The anatomy of a mission statement

So what are the ingredients of a strong mission statement and what sets it apart? Here is a breakdown of the three basic elements:

1. Purpose of your business

It should go beyond simply stating what you do. Think about the benefits and impact of what you are doing. Is your goal to connect people, make life easier, or improve productivity? What wants or needs do you satisfy your customers?

2. Describe how you do it

The way you do what you do is part of what makes your business unique. This could include sustainable sourcing, a commitment to diversity, working through partnerships, added convenience, cost efficiency, or a serious dedication to customer service.

3. Who you do it for

Who are your current and desired customers? Are they athletes? Busy moms? Pet owners? Making sure your mission statement identifies your customers helps your customers identify with your mission.

make it resonate

Once you’ve gained clarity on the three basics, it’s time to get it singing. There are three keys to this:

1. Be brief

Less is more. The ideal length for a mission statement is two to four sentences and no more than 100 words. Remember that this is a central tenet of your business. This is something you want employees to think about every day. It should be easy for them to keep this in mind, without having to open their employee handbook and read a paragraph or two to refresh their memory. It should also be easy for customers to understand and remember.

2. Keep it simple

Don’t make people think, piece things together, or Google a word. (They probably won’t.)

3. Make it engaging

Smart writers make writing compelling by using powerful verbs to trigger certain emotional responses. Think: “enable” versus “allow”; “challenge” vs “question”; “discover” vs “find”.

There are tons of lists of “power words” available on the internet, sorted by the type of emotion they are known to evoke. Just search for “power words in writing” and jot down a few of your favorites to have on hand while you do your writing exercise. Play around with different buzzwords and see how they change the sentiment of your mission statement.

Your mission statement in action

A well-crafted mission statement that resonates with your employees, customers, and partners is a valuable asset to your business. Strive to integrate it in as many places as possible: on your website, on social media and LinkedIn, and in your advertising. Internally, it should be prominently displayed for employees to see and assimilate on a regular basis.

Although it shouldn’t change often, the world is constantly changing and your business can change with it. If you use it every day as a pole star, you may notice that it loses its resonance and needs to be reworked. If you get there, congratulations! Your mission statement has probably served you well and taken you far. Go now and write another one.

To learn more about starting a business, click here

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