Many startup business plans include a mission statement, but most of these statements are simplified company overviews with vague generalizations about the market or customer base. Instead of explaining a company’s mission, they tend to summarize the company’s products and services.
To be effective, mission statements need to clarify the intentions of the business while being inspirational and meaningful to customers and employees. Successful mission statements may take time to create, but when they are developed correctly, they provide a company with clear direction and purpose.
The following seven tips can help you create a successful mission statement:
- Cut to the Core: Your mission statement should reflect the long-term vision of your company and state what your company stands for internally (employees and direct stakeholders) and externally (customers, retailers, and the community). Your mission statement should summarize your company’s priorities and its message should be an important part of your company culture.
- Hit All Bases: There are four key elements found in effective statements: Value, inspiration, plausibility, and specificity. In a few short sentences, you should convey the values of your company, explain why your brand exists, inspire and encourage your employees, sound completely reasonable and plausible, and be as specific and relevant as possible.
- Answer the Tough Questions: To develop an effective mission statement, you need to ask (and answer!) some critical questions:
- Employees: What can employees expect from your company?
- Customers: Who are your customers and how will you make their lives better?
- Values: What values are important to your business? What beliefs and morals are important and how are they applied in the workplace? Do you have a particular ethical standard that defines you? What were your founding principles? What are your aspirations?
- Community: What are you doing for the community?
- Success: How do you define success? How do you plan to achieve success?
- Culture: What makes your company culture unique?
- Be Present: Mission statements should always be in the present, rather than a statement about future events. It should state who you are and what is important to you. Your mission statement is who you are today, and should convey that timely message clearly. It’s not about what you hope to become in the future; it’s all about the “now.”
- Be Brief and Unique: Mission statements should concisely summarize your company’s unique positioning internally and externally. Revise the mission statement until you can make the points as quickly and clearly as possible. Try to limit the entire company’s mission in one or two sentences. Concise mission statements need to be memorable and effective. Concisely state the purpose of your company — the reason for starting it in the first place.
- Invite Involvement: Mission statements should be developed by your entire team and everyone’s views should be taken into account. Not only will you get a better, more comprehensive statement, but your employees will also be more invested in it because they helped create it. Your mission statement needs to accurately reflect your company, and being transparent with your employees will help create a better message.
- Let it Evolve: Mission statements are not created only once. As your company evolves, the mission statement should be revised. It is your company’s overall sense of identity and should be constantly maintained and referred to. No company ever stays exactly the same. Tweaking your statement ensures that it constantly parallels the direction of your company.
A successful mission statement concisely defines the personality and aspirations of a company.
A few examples of effective mission statements include:
- Coca Cola: “To refresh the world, to inspire moments of optimism and happiness, and to create value and make a difference.”
- Southwest Airlines: “We are dedicated to the highest level of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.”
- Google: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
- Harley Davidson: “We fulfill dreams through the experiences of motorcycling”
These statements are about the company’s passion and priorities instead of the product line offerings or the latest technology. These companies reflect their mission consistently through their positioning, advertising, and company culture. These statements provide an impetus for training and motivating employees while defining the way the brand image is communicated throughout the world.
If you create an effective mission statement, you will be able to easily communicate your priorities and point of difference to investors, future employees, retailers, and customers. You will be able to inspire your stakeholders and remain committed to your founding principles.