How to write a winning mission statement
Your mission statement should be a roadmap to the vision of your business.
It shouldn't be vague or listless. It should have energy and awareness of what you need to do to get you closer to achieving the big beautiful vision you have for your business.
Your mission statement should be the defining thing that forms the major characteristics of your business.
If you have a new employee or a potential investor eyeing you up, they should be able to read your mission statement and immediately get a clear idea of your company culture, your ethics and the core of your company morale.
Its not difficult to get the mission statament very very right.
In fact its harder to get it wrong than it is to get it right. Most people understand the basics of a mission statement, because the word “mission” is pretty self-explanatory.
This post is going to tell you what it takes to go from an OK mission statement to a fantastic one!
At the core of your mission statement should be the purpose of your business. The big WHY.
Stay away from the generic, get into the details.
- Who are your customers?
For your mission statement to be effective, you need to be clear on who the mission is for.
Missionaries go somewhere, typically to save people.
- What do you actually do for your customers?
Founders usually like going abstract with this because they don’t want to admit to themselves that they aren’t quite there yet.
Don’t hide behind vague statements.
What are you doing right now to contribute to the lives of your customers?
What is your business’ cornerstone?
What is the one thing you know you will never change about the way your business operates?
When you’re describing it, stay away from buzzwords that don’t mean much, and do try to be emotive and energetic.
Your mission is usually the sequel to your vision.
When you have an incredible mind blowing vision right in front of you, the only logical follow up is to say exactly how you are going to bring that vision to life in a couple of sentences.
Take Ikea for example.
“At IKEA our vision is to create a better everyday life for the [sic] many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”
See what they did there?
They stated their vision and then said exactly how they are going to bring that vision to life. They also define their customer as people who cannot typically afford quality home furnishings.
Also not, that the mission statement is not 5 paragraphs long. Its short, sweet and memorisable, so you can use it when networking as well.
- Why do you think yours is the best way to do it?
Aswering this question in detail is going to force you to think objectively about the legitimacy of the business model you’re running.
Why do you think this is the answer to the problem your customer is facing?
Why do you think this is the best way to answer that problem?
Is it beause your team has particular skills or expertise?
How are you best suited to tackle the problem?
For example, see what Intel’s mission statement says
“Delight our customers, employees, and shareholders by relentlessly delivering the platform and technology advancements that become essential to the way we work and live.”
They’re confident that they have what it takes to relentlessly deliver the platform and technology advancements needed to delight their customers, employees and shareholders.
Spend some time thinking about this and come up with one sentence that let’s the reader know, that you know, what you’re doing and you’re the best person to make the vision a reality.
- What do you do for your stakeholders?
Stakeholders are the people that have a vested interest in the development of your business.
You should consider having different mission statements for your different stakeholder groups.
For example, what you say to your investors might not be the same thing you say to employees or customers.
A little while ago, I was coaching the founder of a recruitment agency who was finding it difficult to build client-investor-employee-agency relations.
One of the many things we worked on was varying the mission statement and the About page content on their website to properly reflect what they were trying to achieve to their different audiences.
What would you want your different stakeholders to see on your about page?
- What is the value of your work?
We start with the vision and we end with the vision.
See this snippet from Starbucks’ mission statement. Their aim is,
“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.”
The important thing to note here is that, although the first part of the sentence is really lofty, they make it very practical with the second half, without letting go of the large scope of the vision.
By now, we all know that Startbucks’ vision is to have a Starbucks around the corner from every home in the world.
The reason they want to do that, their WHY, is because they want “to inspire and nurture the human spirit”.
So HOW are they going to do it? By taking one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.
Ever wonder why Starbucks’ employees have to write your name on their cups, or why they have community specific notices in every store?
Its because their mission statement stipulates that as they tackle the whole wide world, they never forget that they are taking one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.
That is what they see as the value of their brand; their ability to look local, depite the fact that they’re global.
What is the value of your brand? What’s the thing that pervades every aspect of what you do?
Amazon’s mission is to be “the most customer-centric company in the world.” If you’ve ever called Amazon’s customer service line, you’ll know how seriously they take their mission.
Maybe your mission is to produce quality and excellence in your product and packaging, maybe its service with a smile.
Think about it, then turn it into a sentence.
Let’s wrap this up.
When you’ve answered all of these questions in as much details as you can, put them all together. You should have a pretty bulky mission statement. Break it down, summarise, but keep the meaning.
By the end of the exercise, you should have a mission statement that is no longer than 5 concise sentences.
That’s all folks.
Thanks for reading,