- What is a mission statement and do you need it as a business owner or not? What's the secret behind it?
- Well, a mission statement is the intention of your company to achieve the goals you've already set in front of you.
- But how do you write a mission statement? Does everyone need it to ensure their business skyrockets? We'll find out.
Ask any 7 year old, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and you’ll probably get an immediate answer like “I want to be a doctor” or “I want to fly airplanes.” And if you ask them “Why?” they’ll probably be able to give you a good reason. It may not be what they ultimately choose for a career but at least they had a mission in life, at the ripe old age of 7.
So, why is it so difficult when we become adults, running a business, to define
- What our business really is,
- What we want our business to become and why?
Because we’re so involved in working in the business every day that we haven’t taken much time to work on the business.
How to Start Working On the Business?
Just like any journey, there must be a beginning, and the starting point for any business should be your Mission Statement.
- First of all, let’s start with a blank sheet of paper. Right at the top of the page, in the centre, write “MISSION STATEMENT” and underneath write the name of your company or your business name.
- On another sheet of paper, start to make a list of questions about your business and leave plenty of space to write in some answers:
- What do we do?
- How do we do it?
- What are we best known for?
- What are we most proud of?
- Where do we operate our business? Geographic location, country(s) etc.
- What is our target market(s)?
- Who are our customers? Age groups, male, female?
- What are our advantages over our competitors?
- Where do we want to be in 5 years time? 10 years time?
Until you have the answers to these questions (and maybe several more) you can’t even begin to decide on your Mission Statement. From the answers to your questions, the definition of your business will emerge and your Mission Statement will become obvious. More importantly, it should become the basis for a sound strategic plan that will carry you and your company successfully and profitably into the next decade.
It can also be a valuable motivating factor for your employees ensuring they are all working toward the company’s common goals.
After all, a sound business is all about people, isn’t it?
What's Next in the Mission Statement?
For the Mission Statement to be good, it should define the goals of the business in 3 different ways:
- What the business does for its customers,
- What it does for its employees, and
- What the business does for its owners.
Your Mission Statement should be unique to your business and easily recognisable as such. It doesn’t have to be a long dissertation of your goals and objectives; it can be as simple as a few well chosen words.
Examples of Good Mission Statements
1. American Express includes its people in the mission statement: “We have a mission to be the world’s most respected service brand. To do this, we have established a culture that supports our team members, so they can provide exceptional service to our customers.”
2. Doctors without Borders ( Medecins sans Frontieres) works in over 70 countries providing medical aid to those most in need regardless of race, religion or political affiliation.
3. Microsoft. At Microsoft, we work to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential. This is our mission. Everything we do reflects this mission and the values that make it possible.
It would be remiss of me to write about mission statements without bringing “passion” into the equation. The examples above are easy to relate to by everyone in the organisation. They enable both their customers and their employees to embrace the passion that the owners of the business have for their organisation.
If you don’t believe it how can you deliver it?
Your Mission Statement should provide a focus for your thinking and action. It should influence your decision making and prompt you to ask “Are we on the right track with that idea?” It should also confirm that some decisions that may be controversial are, in fact, the correct ones, because they meet the demands of the corporate mission statement.
Business is a series of twists and turns that challenge our everyday activities, so the strategic plan we prepare is a valuable document that should be reviewed regularly to guide us along the way and keep us on track. The Mission Statement, up on the wall, in big letters for all to see, is the daily reminder, the door to the strategic plan, the evidence to the customer that we mean what we say and aim to deliver to the best of our ability at all times.
To conclude our “How to write a Mission Statement,” here are a few handy tips to get you started:
- Start by writing down what your business does, why it does it and how it will benefit your clients,
- Condense this information into a statement that is:
- Brief – Easy to understand and remember
- Flexible - It should be able to accommodate change as your business grows
- Distinctive – It should make the business stand out from others in the same market. T
- Try the following starter line to get you going: “Our mission at…(insert name of your company) is……………………………………………….”
Once you have your mission statement composed to your liking it is the perfect time to start working on a 5 year Strategic Plan for your business, but that is a topic for another da. Watch this space.