What is a Mission Statement?
Before diving into the details of how to create a mission statement, it is important to understand the purpose that it can serve for your company. At the very core of the idea, a mission statement addresses why your company exists and how it adds value to the world and your specific market.
For a company, a mission statement serves two purposes:
Purpose #1: Internal Motivation
A company mission statement influences the people working within the company and provides them with a purpose to their work. When the times get tough, leadership teams can return to their mission statement to remind their team why they are there. It acts as a glue holding together the company’s parts.
Purpose #2: External Marketing
To people outside of a company only learning about it through the news, word of mouth, and the company’s marketing efforts, a mission statement verifies their existence and clearly demonstrates how they add value to the world. As an entrepreneur, your company’s mission statement can inspire outsiders to understand your company and what it does.
Where does the mission statement stem from?
Similar to other key aspects of building a strong company culture, the mission statement tends to resonate most closely with its founder or founding team as they are most likely the people that created it. You will also find that the mission statement most closely reflects the thoughts and beliefs of the company’s CEO.
At one of my companies, Portlight, our mission statement is to perfect the online shopping experience for customers and suppliers on the Amazon Marketplace. Everything that we do links back to this statement and keeps our team focused.
When is the right time to create a mission statement?
The best time to create a mission statement is within the first 3 months that you are working on your idea. Within this time frame, you should have a good understanding of why your business exists and how it provides value to others.
If you are working with a founder or a group of founders, it is important to create a mission statement together. In the first year working together, you want a common purpose that guides your decisions and actions as a collective unit. Working together to create the mission statement and discussing each other’s expectations will set you up for a positive working relationship without confusion or frustration.
Does the mission statement ever change?
I encourage all entrepreneurs to re-evaluate their mission statement at least once if not twice every year. A lot can change in just one year while building a business and you want to make sure that your mission remains accurate to what you are exactly doing.
Use these evaluation periods as an opportunity to escape from the daily operations and think of the business from a bigger picture view. It will help to assuage any negative feelings you have created and bring your founding team closer together.
How to Create a Mission Statement
Do you feel prepared to create a mission statement? Let’s give it a shot together.
Hopefully the four introductory questions got your mind racing and the creative juices flowing. From my experience, a mission statement should be an action statement with supporting clauses outlining how you will achieve the stated purpose.
Let’s assume that we are starting an ice cream shop together called Healthy Twist in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. We know how hot it gets on the island during the summer months and we’re not content with the selection that is currently offered. We want to build an ice cream shoppe with homemade, low-fat ice cream that targets a specific market of healthy, active, and price insensitive customers.
Key Questions to Ask
Remember, we want to create a mission statement that expresses why we exist as a business and how we are adding value to our customer base. The questions below will help to get your mind thinking in the right way.
1. What value do you add to your customers’ life?
2. What makes you different than your competitors?
3. Why are you starting your business?
A General Format for a Mission Statement
Here is a general format to create a mission statement that directly delivers your company’s main purpose.
Our company mission is…
to perform or deliver a service or product to someone (your market)
through/by doing something that makes you different.
For Healthy Twist, we may create a mission statement that looks like this.
Healthy Twist’s mission statement is…
To make and serve the healthiest and tastiest homemade ice cream on cape cod
through our secret recipe and hands on customer service.
We are making progress, but how could we be even more specific? Remember that this mission statement is going to be your mantra for at least the next year as you launch your business to the public. Does it 100% describe why you want to build your company?
Mission Statement Challenge
Spend time creating 5 to 10 variations of your mission statement and then narrow them down to your top 3. Over time, decide which mission statement most closely communicates the purpose of your company.
As you create a mission statement, it is important that you take the time necessary to find the perfect rendition. As you will learn throughout the process of being an entrepreneur, everything needs to go through trials and errors at least 3 times before you find the best solution. Your mission statement is no different.
Stay in Touch
If you’re in the process of starting your own company or would like to re-evaluate your current mission statement, reach out to me at Connor@ConnorGillivan.com. I’d love to assist you as you strive towards developing the ultimate message to communicate with your team and customers.
If you’re interested in more unique content regarding mission statements, jump over to my column on Understanding the Power and Purpose of the Mission Statement.
If you have a different method for developing a mission statement, leave your thoughts in the comments section to further bolster the reader community.