A mission statement: the driving concept behind a business.
Whether you work for a large company, own a small business, run a nonprofit organization or fly solo as a freelance professional, we all have mission statements—and they have an enormous influence. What separates a good mission statement from a lackluster one? For one thing, it must articulate a purpose—the what, how and why of your business.
Great mission statements are strong, integral components of a business strategy while bad mission statements are hollow, feeble attempts at defining your purpose. Embraced completely, a mission statement can drive a business to success. Here’s how to write an effective mission statement.
1. Define what your business does.
The most critical component of a mission statement is to simply tell consumers what the business does. However, this can be easier said than done. If a business provides multiple services or a wide variety of products in different fields, narrowing it down to a clear definition can be a challenge.
Make a list of everything your business does, then decide on one simple, clear statement encompassing everything else. For instance, a marketing firm—offering a large number of services, such as blogging, social media marketing or branding strategy—could be overwhelmed to mention all of those services in a single mission statement. Instead, an overarching phrase, something simple like “provides marketing services,” makes sure it captures everything without being too vague.
2. Describe how your business does it.
Next, describe how the business functions. Include any pertinent information on your customers or employees. This part can also be tricky because you can lose interest with a long, drawn-out explanation of everything little thing a company does. Instead, a general description of how the company operates will suffice.
This is also a great place to integrate any of the company’s core values. How a business does something often involves their values behind doing it. Perhaps a company’s values include innovation and customer support. Their new mission statement could read: “Provide innovative marketing services through idea development and exceptional customer support.”
3. Explain why your business does it.
Next, build on your mission statement to explain why your business does what it does. This describes the passion behind the business and the big why—the reason for all of it. Why does a business do what it does the way it does? Why did someone start the business in the first place?
When you add the “why” to a mission statement, it ties everything together. Let’s take a look at our example mission statement when the “why” is included: “Tell a brand’s story by providing innovative marketing services through idea development and exceptional customer support.”
4. Simplify and personify your statement.
Once you have a solid rough draft of a mission statement, the final steps are to simplify and personify. Ensure it uses clear, concise language that gets straight to the point in a meaningful way. Mission statements should be 1–2 sentences long at most. Any longer and you’re looking at a mission novel no one wants to read or worse—care about.
A mission statement should completely personify the business. It should embody the company’s purpose, reasoning and strategy perfectly. Choose words both powerful and specific in order to simplify your mission statement in a potent way.