Marketers and branding gurus throw around term “mission statement” so much that it has almost turned into yet another bit of jargon. However, a mission statement, when created with intention and careful thought, serves a valuable purpose for all small business owners.
What is a Mission Statement?
A mission statement is a short sentence or a short paragraph that summarizes what a company does, what its business philosophy is, who it serves, and what value it offers.
In short; it captures the essence of why the business exists. Sometimes, a mission statement also includes what the organization aspires to be upon achieving its mission, or that might appear in another statement (vision statement).
Some businesses publish their mission statements for all the world to see, while others keep within their companies as a tool for their leadership team and employees.
Why Should Your Small Business Create a Mission Statement?
Mission statements aren’t only for big corporations. They are useful tools for small business owners as well.
A mission statement serves as a way to differentiate your business from your competitors. It also serves as a guidepost for your business. Before you make decisions that will impact your business, evaluating your options to determine if they line up with your mission statement can help you determine the best course of action. If something doesn’t align with your mission, it’s likely it will confuse customers, derail other initiatives, or overtax your resources.
4 Tips for Writing a Mission Statement
Getting started can be the most challenging and exciting part of the process as you take a blank slate and craft what will be at the foundation of everything your business does. Keep the following tips in mind as you sit down to write your business’s mission statement.
1. Keep it real.
Authenticity is essential for a mission statement. If you write something that you don’t believe or intend to strive for, you’ll create a piece of fiction rather than a meaningful mission statement. Be true to what your company stands for and what you envision for it.
2. Make sure it can’t be just anyone’s mission statement.
Think through what’s unique about your business and how you can bring that into your mission statement. Perhaps it’s your backstory, your approach to providing your products and services, the atmosphere you offer, or something else that makes you stand out. Your mission statement should be a perfect fit for your company and not one that could reflect what any of your competitors stand for.
A few examples of unique mission statements in competitive industries include:
- Arby’s – The Arby’s brand purpose is Inspiring Smiles Through Delicious Experiences®. Arby’s delivers on its purpose by celebrating the art of Meatcraft® with a variety of high-quality proteins and innovative, crave-able sides, such as Curly Fries and Jamocha shakes. Arby’s Fast Crafted® restaurant services feature a unique blend of quick-serve speed combined with the quality and made-for-you care of fast casual.
- Bass Pro Shops – To be the leading merchant of outdoor recreational products inspiring people to love, enjoy, and conserve the great outdoors.
- Ford Motor Company – Our belief: Freedom of movement drives human progress. Our aspiration: To become the world’s most trusted company, designing smart vehicles for a smart world.
3. Keep it simple.
A lengthy and elaborately written mission statement might sound impressive, but the simpler and more straightforward the language you use, the easier it will be for your employees and customers to understand it.
For example, Nike’s mission statement, Bring Inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world, says a lot in only a few words. The same is true with IKEA’s mission statement, To create a better everyday life for many people. And TED, says it all in just two words, “Spread ideas.”
You might find it difficult to sum up your mission in such short order, and that’s OK. But strive to keep your mission statement as concise and clear as possible.
4. Ask for Feedback from a SCORE Mentor.
Creating a mission statement can be a frustrating process for business owners. It requires taking a step back from everyday minutia and tasks and looking at the big picture. Consider asking a SCORE mentor for guidance as you craft your mission statement. With experience and expertise in all aspects of starting and running a business, SCORE mentors can offer valuable input and feedback to help you develop a mission statement that captures your purpose and inspires you and your team.