Updated: Jan 11, 2020
How to write a mission statement that matters
In this article, we will go over the importance of not only a mission statement but a vision statement as well. Both are extremely important in branding your business and setting a baseline goal for you and your team to achieve. Though these two statements are similar in style, word choice, and importance, they mean two completely separate things. Your mission statement will describe why your business is running in the first place. A vision statement is what your business will aim to achieve, and where your business will go.
If you have never heard of a mission or vision statement, or simply haven’t needed one, you are not alone. Though you may not see it now, a well thought out mission and vision statement can set a precedent for your company to follow. Sure you make your product or sell your service, but what's the real reason your service is needed, and what do you aim to achieve with it? Your statements should be very inspiring, relatable, and streamlined. You do not want to take up space with unnecessary phrasing. Most of all you want to be sure they are true to your company.
Here are some tips to create a meaningful set of statements:
As mentioned above many people think this may be a statement you can do without or just makeup rather quickly. The problem occurs when you find the legalities attached to your mission statement when you decide to trademark. You realize you have to pick a very specific statement as to stay true to your trademark. This can make a larger company spend weeks or months on developing the perfect mission statement, one that both inspires but allows a broad enough take on their company. If you are too specific you may limit yourself in the future to what your company can offer.
Don't spend too much effort detailing what you do, but on why you do it.
Many times a company will get caught describing what they do, instead of detailing why they do it. So the first place to start is by developing a Why for your business. Sure you are in business so you can make a living for yourself, but what are you providing for your people? In what way does your product or service impact your customer's lives? What impact are you making in your industry? What inspired your company to open, and what drives you forward?
Take a look at your values As a business owner, what values do you wish to incorporate into your business model? Often you will find your own values will become the values of the business, so start with what you value, and then focus on what you want to see your company do. You need to showcase the value of your business here, because once you find the value behind your business you can use that to inspire those behind you, in your workplace.
As a business owner, what values do you wish to incorporate into your business model? Often you will find your own values will become the values of the business, so start with what you value, and then focus on what you want to see your company do. You need to showcase the value of your business here, because once you find the value behind your business you can use that to inspire those behind you, in your workplace.
What makes a person want to work with you for your mission?
More importantly, what makes an investor want to take a stake into your mission?
Inspiring others to rally behind your message is the first step to building a successful business.
Now that you have your business values, and what inspires, you need to showcase how you’ll achieve your goal.
What makes your business equipped to handle this mission?
How do you plan to accomplish it? You need to show that your mission is feasible when you have the right resources. Now again, you do not want to create a paragraph or more than two sentences. The most compelling mission statements are less than 20 words.
Remember, Less IS More, it's all about how you word it.
Take some examples from some star companies:
“Life is Good” - “To spread the power of optimism”
“IKEA” - “To create a better everyday life for the many people.”
“Nordstrom” - “To give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.”
“Cradles to Crayons” - “Provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive - at home, at school, and at play.”
“Tesla” - “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
As you can see most of these statements are very short and broad in their description, but somehow inspiring to get behind. The point you need to remember is if you are entering legalities with your mission statement, you need to keep it broad if you intend to expand in the future. For instance “Life is Good” which is mainly an apparel company does not say “Spread optimism through cute t-shirts”. If they had then they would only be able to sell t-shirts.
On the other hand, if specificity is what you are going for, maybe for grants or donations, then follow “Cradles to Crayons” example. Most grants want to know what you plan to do with the money and have many requirements to uphold. If you have a specific project or demographic that is your sole purpose for running a business or organization then you can be as specific as you want to get your message across.
Remember the mission statement is telling others what you are all about in a short sentence or two.
Most of all you need your statement to be compelling and inspiring, “Tesla’s” statement is a good example of taking your companies values and showing what you intend to do with them. Notice the word ‘Accelerate’ this is a clever power word or power verb for his business. Sure they make solar batteries for your home, and shingles now, but they started with a car. A fast one at that. Finding clever ways to incorporate your business or product with a message that leaves the door open for future endeavors is paramount for a lasting and effective mission statement.
So remember these key things when creating your mission statement:
Values Your company is only as good as its value to its customers, Why are you needed? Inspiration What inspires you and others to run this company, Why should other people take notice?
Goals You don't want to box yourself in with specifics but find that broad goal you wish to achieve with your business.
Brand Whatever statement you create, you need to be sure it is on-brand with your company.
Why You simply will fall flat with your mission if its a description of what you do, why do you run your business?
A vision statement is alike your mission statement in many ways, however, it differs in content. Where your mission is your present-day values and goals. A vision statement showcases where you intend this mission to take you.
While the mission statement focuses on the Why aspect of your company, your vision is the What or Where of your company.
What are your highest goals you wish to achieve with your business, and where do you hope your business will end up? It is okay to shoot for the moon here, you want so seem realistic, but you want to show your ambition. You may not get there for years, or even a decade, but what are you constantly looking to achieve with your company? You don’t just want to focus on the success of your business but what in the world did your mission change? What impacts did your company have on the community you serve?
Take “Microsoft” for example their vision statement at the time of its founding was, “ A computer on every desk and at every home." It shows success for this computer company but also shows the impact it will have on the world. Notice they did not put a time limit on their venture, but you see where they aim to be. Now you can see they’ve ended up almost exactly where they aimed to be. Now “Microsoft” boasts their new vision statement, “Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” They stay true to their mission and brand but set their sights to a much broader goal.
It is okay for your vision to redirect throughout the years, the same with your mission statement. When your old values or goal sets have shifted or been accomplished, it only makes sense to aim higher or revaluate your statement so it stays true to your company.
Truly being able to change your vision and mission statement according to your growth, is a big achievement, but first, you have to write out your first statements to get started.
So remember these key tips when creating your vision statement:
Long Term Goals: Shoot for the moon here, you don’t have to achieve this vision right away, but where do you want your business to end up?
Stay With Your Brand: You want your accomplishments to be inline with your current mission course.
Make it Achievable: You want to aim high, but you want to be sure your team can achieve your goal.
What's your Impact: How do you plan to change your customer's lives through your product or service?