I’ve had a 25-year love-hate relationship with mission statements. I have read thousands. I love it when a mission statement defines a business so well that it feels like a strategy—which it does—and I hate it when a mission statement is generic, outdated, and completely useless.
In the midst of choosing your business location, hiring staff, establishing your product and service offerings, and getting your name out there, you’ve likely skipped one of the most important branding steps that could make all that hard work. Make it more impactful now and for years to come by writing a mission statement.
What is a mission statement?
A good mission statement is a useful tool for well-run businesses. It is the “why” of business strategy.
A mission statement defines the goals of what a company does by:
- Your clients
- The employees
- Their owners
Some of the best mission statements also extend to include the fourth and fifth dimensions: what the company does for its community and the world.
In marketing terms, a mission statement is a short paragraph that describes what your business does and why it exists. If that sounds like pointless marketing that could be crossed off your long list of more important things to do, you’re not alone.
The reality is that many statements are ineffective. These are usually the ones that are written in minutes with very little thought from their creators.
Developing your company’s first mission statement, or drafting a new or revised one, is your opportunity to define your company’s goals, ethics, culture and norms for decision-making.
The daily grind of business gets in the way sometimes, and a quick update with the mission statement helps a person take a step back and remember what’s most important: the organization has a purpose.
Writing a mission statement that truly adds value to your business takes real thought and effort. In about three sentences, an effective mission statement can communicate your company’s core values.
Those values in turn transform the building you’re in, the people you employ, and the services and goods you offer into a meaningful business identity that complements you, your employees, your community, your marketing message, and your customers.
A correct mission statement will set you apart from your competitors, so you won’t be left to compete solely on price or discounts.
Reflect on your story
Every person has a story and your business has one too. Think about the events that led to your decision to start your business. Was there something missing in the market? Did you feel like you could offer a superior experience than your current competitors? How and why?
All of these factors are unique brand values that deserve a mention in your mission statement.
With this “guiding light,” you can breathe life into these values to shape a brand experience that customers can recognize, from the look of your logo and invoices, to the music you listen to in your office, to the way you the staff answers the phone.
Let’s say you start an orthodontic practice because you feel there is a lack of providers who put patient convenience first, for example. Those values belong in your mission statement.
They are expressed through your brand offering, which may include customer-friendly scheduling tools, and the option to offer a weekend and/or evening time slot.
Identify what’s in it for them
Although a mission statement is technically about your company, it should include the most important customer appeal: what’s in it for them? Consider customer highlights within your mission statement
Say what it represents
Is there a cause you’re passionate about, a particular customer segment you want to serve, or a specific ethic or values that drive your business decisions?
These intangibles also contribute to a powerful mission statement that shapes your global brand. Whether customers share your passions is not important. What is? That communicates them in a powerful brand personality that differentiates your company.
When starting a business, a mission statement serves a fundamental purpose, especially for small businesses that are otherwise limited in marketing resources.
By taking the time to write your company’s mission statement from the beginning, you’ll have a guiding light that links the many elements of your company, including its people and products, in an identifiable sense of “place,” regardless of whether the customer physically or not. in your store, or interacting with your brand online.