For most businesses, their mission statement is just as important as their business plans – if not more so. Both are used to help define a company, but unlike a business plan, the mission statement deals more with the philosophical beliefs the company is hoping to embody. Also unlike the business plan, a mission statement is typically made available to the public, which makes it a valuable part of your online reputation.
A lot of people get confused when they think of mission statements. They confuse them with slogans or even with business plans (though these people tend to cite Jerry Maguire as their source for knowledge on the subject).
A mission statement is a statement that, in just a few short sentences, describes the philosophical and practical goals of a company.
Let’s take a look at a few examples:
Microsoft’s mission statement is: “At Microsoft we work to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential. This is our mission. Everything we do reflects this mission and the values that make it possible.”
Google’s mission statement is: “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Amazon’s mission statement is: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
Dell Computer’s mission statement is: “Dell’s mission is to be the most successful computer company in the world at delivering the best customer experience in markets we serve. In doing so, Dell will meet customer expectations of:
- Highest quality
- Leading technology
- Competitive pricing
- Individual and company accountability
- Best-in-class service and support
- Flexible customization capability
- Superior corporate citizenship
- Financial stability”
Some companies choose to write mission statements that are longer, but few go past a page. Some are shorter, making them easy to confuse with company slogans.
The mission statement tells people everything they need to know about your company and its priorities. It is one of the most important things you will ever write. So how do you make sure that yours hits all of the right marks?
1. Define the goals and priorities of your company for yourself. Write them all down. The best way to do this is to ask yourself a few questions like “Who are we?” “What do we do?” “Why do we do it?” “What kind of relationship do we want our employees to have with each other?” “What kind of relationship do we want our employees to have with management?” “What kind of relationship do we want to have with our customers and clients?”
2. Look at that list – how many of those goals and priorities are simply different variations on single themes?
3. Write down the major themes running through your lists.
4. Write three or four sentences that string those themes together in a way that makes grammatical sense.
5. Add some eloquence and personality.
Remember: Your mission statement’s goal is to both explain who you are and what you are about to your market and to impress the people who read it. This is not a summary that you are writing for a grade school book report! This is the snapshot of your brand that you hope will intrigue your market and get them to choose you over your competition.