You’ve probably seen a great mission statement on a company’s website or heard a nonprofit organization sharing their inspiring mission statement at a fundraising event. But how do you know exactly what to include, and how do you write a good mission statement?
We’ll break it all down.
What is a Mission Statement?
First, a good mission statement should explain what you do each day and why you do it. A mission statement needs to be concise and to the point, either a single sentence or a short paragraph. Think of it like an elevator pitch. “What does your company do?”
You should be able to answer it with a good mission statement before you get off at the next floor.
Mission statements aren’t just for large companies – small businesses and startups need them every bit as much. Many business professionals have seen the advantages of them and incorporated them into their personal lives touching on the financial, professional, relational, and spiritual aspects of life.
Why is a Mission Statement Important?
Mission statements serve several super important purposes. For starters, they motivate employees with a clear understanding of why they do what they do every day. Knowing the company’s why will encourage employees to want what the business wants and work more efficiently towards that goal. It helps you hire the right kind of people and avoid the ones who aren’t a fit with your mission. Another purpose is that it reassures investors, suppliers, and distributors of the unique service the company provides.
A third purpose is that it helps the organization itself stay focused and on track. Every business decision in strategic planning can be made with the goals of the company in mind. Potential new products and services should be weighed in comparison with why the company exists, what it seeks to do and where you’re headed, not just whether or not it turns a profit.
Finally, your mission statement should set you apart from your competition. You don’t want to get too detailed, but you do want to be able to clearly articulate why you exist and what makes your company unique.
What is the Difference Between a Mission Statement and a Vision Statement?
A mission statement describes what you do, who you do it for, and the benefit that your product or service provides on a day-to-day basis. The vision statement is where you’re going, what you want to achieve in the marketplace, and should provide shared inspiration. The vision statement is more about who you want to be as an organization and the impact you want to leave on the world, not what you do in the trenches.
For example, let’s take a look at Toyota:
Toyota’s Mission Statement: To attract and attain customers with high-valued products and services and the most satisfying ownership experience in America.
Toyota’s Vision Statement: To be the most successful and respected car company in America.
And for another example, Amazon:
Amazon’s Mission Statement: We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.
Amazon’s Vision Statement: To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
In both these examples, the mission statement describes the current service the company is providing en route to its overall vision.
Completing the Mission Statement “Sandwich”
Your mission statement is crucial to your future success. But it can’t stand alone. You also need a vision statement and a company creed.
As we outlined above, the mission statement describes what you do, who you do it for, and the benefit that your product or service provides. The vision statement is where you’re going as an organization.
So what about your company creed? Think of the creed like your operating constitution or core values. It lays out the principles your mission statement is built off of. A creed can be longer than a vision or mission statement and is often read aloud at various business functions. It’s a living, breathing document, not just a quotation on a plaque in the lobby. Creeds usually begin with statements like: “We believe in…” or “As part of the [business name] family, we strive to…”
How to Write a Mission Statement
Since mission statements are short, at first glance they can look easy to write. Think again! A mission statement has to sum up what you do and why across an entire organization, and concisely. It can take days and even weeks of laboring over how to express who you are as an organization and what overall service you provide. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
- Start by outlining what your company does. What product or service do you offer your customers? Get a group together and jot out their thoughts on poster board or on Post-It notes.
- Describe how your company does what it does. Don’t get too technical here. What is the driving mission or value behind your business? Is it quality? Is it to be customer-centric, like Amazon? Are you eco-friendly? Affordable? Family-oriented? There can be an endless list of adjectives, but only the top 2-3 should make it into the mission statement. This should detail how you serve your customers above and beyond what they could experience elsewhere. In other words, what makes you different from similar businesses down the street?
- Finally, include why you do what you do. This is the heart of your mission statement. It’s what helps you stand out from your competition. This is the noble part of your business that explains the overall mark you want to make in the world.
After you’ve written it out, you may need an editing and refining process. Key stakeholders will need to see it and offer input. Once you’ve written your mission statement, make sure it answers:
- Why a customer would want to buy from you or an employee want to work with you.
- All of the above in a quick and easy format.
A mission statement should be digestible and easy to understand.
Examples of Mission Statements
There are many examples of great mission statements, but here are a to give you an idea what the finished product looks like.
- Chipotle: To provide “food with integrity.”
- Walmart: We save people money so they can live better.
- Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
- JP Morgan: To be the best financial services company in the world.
- Life is Good: To spread the power of optimism.
- Sweetgreen: To inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food.
- Patagonia: We’re in business to save our home planet.
- Honest Tea: To create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages.
- IKEA: To create a better everyday life for the many people.
- Nordstrom: To give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.
- JetBlue: To inspire humanity – both in the air and on the ground.
- Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
- AFLAC: To combine aggressive strategic marketing with quality products and services at competitive prices to provide the best insurance value for consumers.
- Nike: To expand human potential by creating groundbreaking sport innovations, by making our products more sustainably, by building a creative and diverse global team and by making a positive impact in communities where we live and work.
Get Help with Goal-Setting and Mission Statements
Alright, you’ve got some work cut out for you! Get that mission statement written out and take the next step in your company’s growth.
For help on career topics such as mission statements, vision-setting, time-management, productivity, delegation, leadership, communication and more, check out Southwestern Consulting. Our professional Sales and Leadership coaches can help you get from where you are to where you want to be. We’ll even provide a free consultation to help you decide if coaching is right for you.
Click here to request a free consultation.
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