… Should you choose to accept it!
No, I’m not going to spend any time talking about Tom Cruise and the Mission Impossible franchise, but I will talk about how to take writing a mission statement from impossible to possible.
To start, I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs and small business owners I’ve encountered who have skipped this step, feeling like it’s “too corporate” and don’t understand how it’s relevant to them. In fact, it’s an important step because a mission statement becomes a guideline for making decisions, staying inspired, and giving you that bigger picture that provides you purpose while you’re knee deep in your day-to-day work. A mission statement is as critical to a small business as it is to a large one.
What IS a Mission Statement?
At its most basic, a mission statement is a key element of your messaging and branding. A Mission Statement defines the purpose and primary objectives related to your customer needs and team values. It lists the broad goals for which the organization is formed. Keep in mind, it is NOT a marketing tactic. It’s main function serves you and your internal team. Simply put, it answers the question, “What do we do? And what makes us different?”
Why Does it Matter?
Your mission and vision statements (blog on vision statements coming soon!) work together, and for some smaller companies, become one statement. Either way, it’s important because it informs all your innovation and creation — you don’t want to waste time, money, and talent on anything that doesn’t serve the company’s overall mission. And the mission needs to always tie back to the other elements of your messaging.
The other way to think about your mission statement is as a promise to your employees, vendors, clients, and customers that you are working and delivering products or services in the way that you say you will. It helps create the structure within which you create, serve, and deliver — and helps establish a baseline of trust, not to mention inform your brand.
Mission Statement Example
Patagonia: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire, and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
The statement is completely BIG picture (as it needs to be) and guides all their innovation, internal decision making, and product delivery. It tells Patagonia customers that the products they’re buying are the best they can buy and were created without causing harm to the environment. Patagonia is stating that they want their business practices to be inspirational to their internal team, their customers, and to other businesses seeking to have similar impact. They not only want to sell their products, but actually help devise, through their business model, ways to solve our environmental crisis.
A mission statement this clear makes it easy for the right customers to buy. Personally, if I wanted a new piece of hiking gear or clothing, I’d be much more apt to buy from Patagonia than another because their mission and values align with my own. Not everyone is their customer, but those who are will likely remain loyal as long as they continue to adhere to their Mission Statement.
Your Mission …
When you’re developing a statement, ask:
- What do we do today?
- What is the benefit?
- For whom do we do it?
- Why do we do it?
Your mission statement may change as your business grows, but it should always tie back to the other elements of your messaging — goals & objectives, core values, vision — and, of course, your customer needs.
Sometimes articulating your mission (and/or vision) in a coherent, concise, and cogent way can can feel like rappelling down a cliff … there’s a lot of thought that ought to go into developing your statement. But don’t worry. If you’re confused or feel that your statement doesn’t quite capture your business, let go of some of the stress and contact me. I can help you develop your mission statement — and all the other elements of your messaging.