What is a Mission Statement and How to Craft The Perfect One for Your Small Business
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After all the hard work of registering your business structure, setting up business bank accounts, growing your team, and refining your product and ideas, your business has come into focus. Now it’s time to add some context so the world can engage with you and your company in a meaningful way.
Why not add a mission statement to your business?
What Is a Mission Statement?
A mission statement explains to the world what your company is, why it exists, and how it will achieve all it sets out to achieve.
A mission statement should clearly state your small business’s purpose, explaining the what, how, and why of your product or service. This statement is just that — a statement — and should be brief and to the point, delivering your purpose and values all in one.
Mission Statement vs Vision Statement
While a mission statement describes the what, why, and how of your business, the vision statement relays your values within the greater good of the world. A vision statement is usually where a business explains what it wants to see in the community or world, and how they specifically plan to work toward this goal.
A powerful vision statement will speak optimistically and describe the state of the community or world once the business achieves what it has set out to.
For example, if you run a small boutique that exclusively sells the crafts, goods, and art work of local creators, you might be focused on supporting shopping small and local vendors’ as a way to contribute to your community’s economy. You wouldn’t write a vision statement that says, “We sell local goods because we hope that this will support local artists.” Instead, you want to write something that powerfully manifests your end goal, such as, “We provide an outlet where local creators thrive, connect the community with their work, and enrich the local economy through their craft.” This active language speaks as though this goal is already accomplished.
Why Does a Small Business Mission Statement Matter?
Plenty of businesses forego the mission statement altogether. Probably because mission statements are often done poorly, they have a reputation as being bland, redundant, and an unnecessary component to your business. This doesn’t have to be the case! If you do it right, a mission statement can be powerful, enhancing everything that your business stands for and encouraging its values to resonate with potential loyal customers.
A mission statement also gives you and your employees a core focus to guide decision making. Should the road to success ever become overgrown with weeds and a clear path disappears, this core statement will help you find your way back to the true mission of your business.
Powerful Mission Statement Examples
Similar to the vision statement, your mission statement should use active language that not only lets your customers know who you are but inspires them to connect with you and invest in your product.
Here are some examples of powerful mission statements:
- TED: “Spread Ideas.”
- Etsy: “Keep Commerce Human.”
- Starbucks: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
- Spotify: “To unlock the potential of human creativity — by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.”
- Microsoft: “Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. We strive to create local opportunity, growth, and impact in every country around the world.”
- Patagonia: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
As you can see by TED and Etsy’s mission statements, you don’t need to write a monologue in order to powerfully relay your message. In fact, simpler is often better and more memorable. Spotify is a great example of artfully combining both your vision and your mission statement into one concise statement that is easy to understand but hard to forget.
How to Write a Mission Statement
Now it’s time to hit the drawing board. Distilling the entire company spirit into one statement won’t be easy, but be patient with yourself. The greatest masterpieces take time, many trials, even more failures, and a lot of editing. Follow our basic guide to help you get some working ideas drafted.
Define What Your Business Does
This really is as simple as it sounds. Write down what your business aims to achieve. You’ve probably already written it a few dozen times while drafting your business plan, so feel free to pull from there. You know your business best. Jot down as clearly and briefly as possible what the function of your small business operation is.
Define How Your Business Achieves These Goals
Despite looking for the how of your operations, your customers don’t necessarily want to know the detailed production process of your service. Instead, they want to know what you value and how this is going to help you achieve what you do in an outstanding way.
For example, if you run a local shoe store that sells sneakers made from recycled materials, your core values may be providing quality products while supporting sustainability. Therefore, how your business achieves what it does may be something along the lines of, “We rely on recycled materials to create sustainable shoes that never sacrifice quality or the health of the environment.”
Define Why Your Business Does What It Does
This is where it gets fun. Get some coffee, put on some music, and tap into the passion behind your business. This is the piece of your mission statement that will inspire your customers to invest their money and loyalty into your product.
Think about why you started your business. What emotions did you experience that were strong enough to encourage you to complete the marathon that is opening a business? Plenty of people have ideas but only some act on them. Why did you act on yours?
Building on the shoe store example, why would you think to create a sneaker product made from recycled materials? Since environmental advocacy is one of your driving values, you may say you do what you do for one of the following reasons:
- So people can wear shoes they love that also love the Earth
- Because fashion doesn’t need to have a carbon footprint
- So people can have access to affordable and sustainable footwear they can feel good about wearing
Edit, Revise, Edit Some More
A good mission statement should be concise and memorable enough to serve as a type of motto for your business. You should be able to effortlessly use it, or versions of it, at the core of your small business’s marketing campaigns, social media platforms, and overall product delivery. This final product will be your tool for communicating with customers, local businesses, and your community in general.
So don’t be afraid to edit the heck out of it. We encourage you to run it by close friends, family members, and teammates to see how it resonates. Embrace feedback and don’t see criticism as failures but rather winds blowing your sails in the right direction.
Final Tips for Writing a Solid Mission Statement
In addition to the general steps for forming a mission statement, lean on these tips for fine-tuning your creative process:
- Short and snappy is the way to go: In an age of Instagram photos and communicating through brief tweets, your customer base prefers quick and easily digestible information. Use this to your advantage and construct a mission statement that follows the same format.
- This time…get a little ahead of yourself: Okay, usually we’d tell you to take it one step at a time. Cross all of your t’s and dot the i’s. But in this case, remember that your mission statement is supposed to represent your business, not only now but for the foreseeable future. To prevent having to rewrite your statement a dozen times throughout the next several years, think about the long-term goals of your business and make sure they are represented.
- That being said…don’t be afraid of change: Your customers are looking for consistency. This is how loyalty is established. However, as your business grows and it’s capabilities expand, and the current social and economic environment it exists in also evolves, you may need to alter your mission, values, and operations to support this. And that’s okay.
- Get feedback from your people: We don’t just mean your grandma, childhood friend, and favorite neighbor. We mean the people working for you. Your employees and team members are investing their time and energy into your business. Their opinion of your business’s values and the mission of the work they do every single day is important.