- Eloise Skinner is the founder of edtech startup One Typique Day and The Purpose Workshop.
- She says a personal mission statement can help founders stay focused and motivated in the New Year.
- When writing the statement, consider your priorities and how you want them to be upheld in your business.
What comes to your mind when you think of a mission statement?
Many of us might think of corporate websites or self-help books, or what kind of slogan you might put in your LinkedIn bio.
But a mission statement can actually be something much more personal, meaningful, and impactful.
What is a mission statement?
In general, a mission statement is a formal summary of values and goals.
Often times, it captures goals and values that already exist (think of a corporate mission statement like Amazon’s: “to be the most customer-centric company in the world”).
But a mission statement can also be personal and used to explore and establish your principles and ambitions. That way, it can be a functional and scalable tool for determining where you want to focus your energy.
Why are personal mission statements important to founders?
Personal growth aside, there are concrete business-related reasons why every founder should have a strong personal mission statement:
- Pitch: As founders, we constantly present our company, whether formally to potential investors or less formally to clients, potential recruits and the media. The pitch is based on passion, belief and mission. Developing your main mission before you jump into a pitch situation can be fundamental to presenting with confidence.
- Cultural creation: Whether it’s recruiting employees or finding investors, you introduce new people to your corporate culture. Is it a business with a strong vision or the desire to make an impact? Do you support certain values and principles? These are corporate questions, but it’s up to the founder to express and support them.
- Personal clarity: Finding purpose, meaning, and direction in your life and work tends to be a long process. A personal mission statement is a great foundation on which to build and use to inform tough decisions.
How to write your personal mission statement
First, make a list of what you enjoyed most about your past, what’s most important to you now, and what you want in the future. These three areas are a map of your desired past, present and future and the basis for building your mission statement.
Then go through your three lists (past, present, and future) and choose commonalities or consistent themes. Also think about the things that you think have priority.
Once you have defined the key aspects, it is time to create your language. Mission statements often work best with assertive, goal-oriented language. To start, use the phrase: “My mission is …”
Here’s an example, using my own statement as the founder of a social impact business:
“My mission is to create work that has a lasting social impact and to lead a balanced life.“
This statement identifies two aspects: social impact and balance. One is outward-oriented (doing a job that makes a difference) and the other is inward-oriented (leading a balanced life).
“My mission is to use my natural abilities as a team leader to encourage positive change. “
This statement emphasizes the skills of a founder and his intention to use them to have a positive impact on others. While the mission statement itself may seem quite high, you should feel free to add more detail or use the statement alongside more specific goal setting exercises.
Don’t be surprised if your statement reveals values and priorities that aren’t directly reflected in your day-to-day work as a founder or entrepreneur. In these cases, it’s worth revisiting your business mission to see where the gaps appear and ask how you can further align the business direction with yours.
Your personal mission statement will have the most impact if you refine and revise it regularly. Try to review the statement every few months (or even annually, if that works best for you) to incorporate changes and new priorities.
Eloise Skinner is an entrepreneur, author and teacher working in the field of education and social impact. She is the founder of The Purpose Workshop, a social impact consulting firm, and One Typique, an edtech startup.