A mission statement is a brief statement that explains your reason for existence or purpose – what you want to accomplish.
A good mission statement helps guide you in determining your products and services because it answers the question “why?” and helps identify “what’s next?” It describes the end result; not how you will achieve it. Your strategies and goals answer the specifics of “how.”
Step 1: Determine why you want to write a mission statement. Circle the answer below:
- You think you’re supposed to have one.
- You want to use it for marketing to attract customers.
- You want to use it to guide how you treat employees and customers.
- You want to use it to provide focus for daily activities and to communicate to employees and customers what your business is.
Step 2: This next step corresponds with your selection in Step 1.
- If the only reason you want to write a mission statement is because you think you’re supposed to have one, don’t bother. It will be a waste of time.
- If you want to use it for marketing to attract customers, a short, pithy phrase is best. Think of something like “We try harder” or “Quality is job one.” One caveat: if it doesn’t accurately reflect what you really do, you will annoy, not attract customers.
- To guide behavior, instead of a mission statement, identify your values or principles. See : 5 Tips to Ensure Your Values Unify Your Team, Not divide It
- If you want to use a mission statement to provide focus, clarity for strategic decisions, and to communicate what your business is, proceed to step 3.
Step 3: Consider what you offer from your customer’s viewpoint.
1. List your products and services. What general theme do you see about what you provide? What makes you unique or differentiates you from others?
2. List who your customers are, what their needs are and what they want from you . For example, Are your customers busy people who know what they want and need quick access? Are they elderly people who are worried about their healthy and finances? Are they authors who don’t understand how to use social media to promote their book and build an online presence? Put yourself in the shoes of the people who would seek your services and ask “What problem are they seeking a solution for? What need are they trying to satisfy?”
3. Describe your business from the viewpoint of your customer. What is the purpose of your organization or team? For more information see: How to Identify Your Team or Organization’s Purpose.
Step 4: Now, write a brief statement of no more than 25 words.
In 25 words or less, write a statement that explains the unique end-result of your services or products. A stranger who reads it should be able to know immediately not what your products and services are, but what problem you will solve or what benefit you provide.
For example, Mary Parker Follett helped the window shade company determine they provide unique and decorative ways to control light and privacy.
The mission of Google is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
Step 5: Involve others.
If there are others on your team and you want it to provide guidance for them, don’t finalize it yet. Don’t get attached to any of the words.
Involve others on your team. They may have some good thoughts you have not considered, and giving them an opportunity to participate in this process will deepen their understanding of the mission and strengthen their commitment. How it’s created is as important as what it says.
Once you have written your mission, turn it into a vision by adding in your core values and a picture of the future. Together, a mission, values and picture of the end result will create a vision that will provide a context for your strategies and goals and guidance for your daily decisions.