A lot of small business owners and entrepreneurs are so focused on launching and building their business, that sometimes some basic business planning activities get overlooked. One of those activities which is often overlooked, yet can be a powerful tool is developing a mission statement for the business. What is a good mission statement? Why do I need one? How do I write a mission statement? That’s a question that many ask. It’s easy to get confused, so we’ll break it down for you here.
What is a Mission Statement?
A good mission statement tells consumers what your company hopes to accomplish and how. Some mission statements are quite concise, others can be more lengthy. And some even read more like poetry and be quite inspiring.
The point is that all businesses really should have a mission statement, and it should be communicated to both customers and staff so that everyone understands what your business is setting out to accomplish. Therefore a mission statement is a great way to define a brand’s purpose and communicate it outside the organization.
Do Small Businesses Need a Mission Statement?
Because a well-written mission statement is valuable to communicate both internally to employees and outside to customers, it can be quite valuable even to small businesses! Ideally, a mission statement should be developed and included in the company’s business plan.
A mission statement serves as a solid framework, giving everyone involved a starting point to build from when you are establishing your brand. For your consumers, it may also set the company apart from the competition. And for your employees, it helps them understand how their role fits into the greater goals of the company. This is key for creating employee engagement and building a loyal staff who are driven to support the brand and feel they are a part of it.
“Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
– Google’s Mission Statement
Notice that Google’s mission statement doesn’t mention what it is mainly known for and used for, a search engine. Even though we all know this is how Google rose to what it is today. Essentially, they left it open to the possibility of growing and evolving – because that’s often what happens with a business. When they wrote that mission statement they knew that they were planning on growing past just being a search engine.
What’s the Difference Between a Mission Statement and a Vision Statement?
This is a very common question that we get asked. And honestly, a lot of people mix these up all the time! However, it is important to not confuse a mission statement with a vision statement because they are actually quite different.
Think of the vision statement as being very aspirational and broad. Your vision should be long-term, and it could be quite a grand idea. On the other hand, a mission statement explains what the company will do and how it will achieve its vision. So a mission statement is a bit more narrowed down and focused. It’s more about how you will accomplish what you are setting out to do in your bigger vision.
A vision statement is often inspirational, a mission statement is more motivational.
How to Draft Your Objectives
A well-crafted mission statement may include some goals for the short or medium-term. It also should communicate the uniqueness of the organization in the marketplace. The intention is to clearly communicate these things in a succinct way so that everyone can understand. This tends to be the most difficult part!
Drafting up a mission statement is not an easy task for small business owners or new entrepreneurs. You will need to ask yourself a couple of key questions about your business before starting your mission statement.
- What do we do?
- Why do we do it?
- How do we do it differently from my competition?
- To whom do we do it for?
- What key value do we bring to that our competition does not?
- How does what we do support our bigger vision in the long-term?
Mission Statement Examples
IKEA’s mission statement is a great example of using a mission statement to explain how they will achieve their vision. Their vision is “To create a better everyday life for many people.“ and their mission statement is “To offer the wide range of well designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”
You can see that their mission statement describes what the company provides, what is special about it compared to competitors and it also conveys the value they are providing to customers. Reading this statement, both employees at IKEA as well as customers can easily understand what IKEA is all about and what they have set out to do.
Time to Write Your Mission Statement
Now it’s your turn. Don’t worry about finalizing your mission statement right away. It often takes a lot of time to narrow it down. Revise, revise, revise! Often times companies will do this in more of a workshop format with a brainstorm and then different groups of employees will write their own statements. You can then put them all on a board together and pick and choose what you like and combine them all into a final statement. This is a fun way to do it because you can get your employees involved in the process. But also, it helps spur your creativity because having more minds working on it can give you different ideas and perspectives. While your mission statement could change over time or just be slightly edited, consistency is key to helping you achieve your vision.
Do You Need Help Getting Started with Your Business Plan?
Download our free business plan template, which is an editable Word Document. You can use this to make writing your business plan a lot easier!