Your mission statement is the heart of your business
Whether you are just starting your company or you are growing it, one of the most important considerations is your mission statement.
Your mission should drive everything else that your business does. I look at it as the core of everything else that you do in your business. It’s that important.
Up until this moment, you may not have considered a mission statement to be very important…or relevant to you.
Perhaps you are under the impression that mission statements are just for non-profit organizations or Fortune 500 corporations.
And let’s face it – you’ve probably read a lot of mission statements that are reeeeeally boring. They don’t get you all fired up, and they certainly don't inspire you.
Unfortunately, in recent years many mission statements have become watered down in the corporate world to the point where they are essentially meaningless and have negative connotations.
In some business circles, mission statements are received only slightly better than tax increases.
In addition, most marketers don’t talk about your mission because they don’t think it has anything to do with your brand or your growth or your day-to-day operations.
But they’re wrong.
Your mission statement is your core purpose
Writing a strong mission statement and using it to inform all of your organization's decision making will accelerate your brand like nothing else can.
“I believe that purpose and principle, clearly understood and articulated, and commonly shared, are the genetic code of any healthy organization. To the degree that you hold purpose and principles in common among you, you can dispense with command and control. People will know how to behave in accordance with them, and they’ll do it in thousands of unimaginable, creative ways. The organization will become a vital, living set of beliefs.” –Dee Hock
Why your company needs a strong mission statement
A well-crafted mission statement can provide the focus and motivation you need to take your business to the next level.
Your mission drives everything including your business personality, customer service, culture, and marketing messages.
In fact, your mission is the heart of your brand. It is your Why. It is the very reason that your company does what it does.
Your mission is about getting really clear and staying really focused. It provides your company with direction. It helps you find the right customers…your most profitable customers.
Research on the power of a great mission
In a 2013 study of 49,928 business units across 192 organizations representing forty-nine different industries in thirty-four countries, Gallup researchers found that a company’s mission is a powerful driver of organizational performance.
They identified five factors behind the success-promoting, margin-boosting benefits of focusing on a mission:
1. Mission drives loyalty across generations. Emphasizing mission and purpose are two of the strongest factors for retaining Millennials, Generation Xers, and Boomers.
2. Mission fosters customer engagement. Only about 41 percent of employees know what makes their organization’s brand different from competitors. A strong mission promotes brand differentiation and engagement and customer loyalty.
3. Mission improves strategic alignment. Your mission establishes and balances priorities and sets performance goals. You should hire and promote people based on their ability to deliver on the promise of your mission.
4. Mission brings clarity. When your leadership and employees know your mission, it helps them make decisions and determine priorities.
5. Mission can be measured. In a mission-driven culture, leaders can evaluate employee engagement through surveys and other assessments. Managers can use this feedback to help employees see how their work connects to the company’s mission.
Your mission is something that you should write and post in places where every single member of your staff can see it.
As the leader of your company, look at your mission often during the day. Remind yourself of it. Then live it and breathe it.
Every. single. day.
Your mission statement should be the driving force behind everything that your team does within your company, and externally with prospects, customers, vendors, and associates. It also shapes your internal corporate culture.
One of the reasons you and your team needs this anchor is to stay on track and stay inspired.
It is so easy for business professionals to get bogged down in the day-to-day of our business lives. We get our to-do list tunnel vision and lose sight of the big vision.
Your mission statement always reminds each person in your company of your overarching raison d’etre…your purpose...…what you are doing…and why you are doing it.
How to write your mission statement
No matter what your organization’s size or sector, you have a core purpose: the work each of your employees - whether you are a team or 1 or 1,000 - has an impact on the lives of both your internal and external customers.
This is your reason for being—your central mission. It can serve to provide meaning and inspiration to you, your team, and your customers.
So what do you need to know before you write your mission statement?
A powerful mission statement should:
- Be easy to remember
- Inspire and motivate your team
- Guide your people’s actions
- Anchor your brand promise and values
- Be meaningful to leadership, employees, potential hires, and customers
- Align with your aspirations and passions
- Define your reason for being
- Avoid jargon
To write your mission statement, here are some questions to ask:
- What do we do?
- For whom do we do it?
- Why do we serve our clients in the way that we do?
- How do we serve our clients in the way that we do?
- Why are we in this industry?
- Why did we start this business?
- What image of our business do we want to convey?
- Why is what we make/do important to the people we serve?
- What would be lost if this organization ceased to exist?
- Why would anyone dedicate their precious time, energy, and passion to our company? (Note: the answer is not “money.”)
- Why does our organization’s existence matter?
When writing your mission statement, use vibrant, exciting words.
Get really clear about your passion and why for behind your unique business.
Create dynamic, visual images and inspire action.
Describe your purpose using unusual, colorful verbs and adjectives to spice up your statements. Drop in words like “passion,” “sizzle,” “outrageous,” “fun,” and “marvel” to add zest.
Keep your mission statement fairly short and make sure that it feels really good when you read it and say it.
It captures, in a few succinct sentences, the essence of your business’s goals and the philosophies underlying them. It signals what your business is all about to your customers, employees, suppliers and the community.
And when you get it right, it's power is transformational.
When you live your mission through your business brand, then amazing, phenomenal things start to happen.
Your perfect, dream clients are drawn to you.
People get really excited about what you are doing. They are willing to pay a premium price because you are clearly differentiated. They spread the word to their friends, they sign up for your services, they give you great testimonials.
You get more customers, make more revenue, and your business grows with ease.
And best of all – your team is more creative and having more fun than ever before because everyone is in absolute alignment with your Why.
21 inspiring mission statement examples
Let’s look at some phenomenal examples of a variety of organizations and their mission…their “reason for being.” Take a look at the list and notice that these mission statements are clear and concise.
This should help you get some ideas for developing your own.
- Alibaba Group: To make it easy to do business anywhere.
- Amazon: To be the most customer-centric company in the world, where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online.
- American Express: We work hard every day to make American Express the world's most respected service brand.
- Asana: To help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly.
- eBay: Provide a global trading platform where practically anyone can trade practically anything.
- Honest Tea: ... to create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages.
- Hyatt: To provide authentic hospitality by making a difference in the lives of the people we touch every day
- Intel: Delight our customers, employees, and shareholders by relentlessly delivering the platform and technology advancements that become essential to the way we work and live.
- Kickstarter: To help bring creative projects to life.
- Kiva: To connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.
- Life is Good: To spread the power of optimism.
- LinkedIn: To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.
- Mary Kay: To give unlimited opportunity to women.
- Merck: To preserve and improve human life.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium: To inspire conservation of the oceans.
- Nike: Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
- Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
- PayPal: To build the Web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution.
- Sony: To be a company that inspires and fulfills your curiosity.
- Wal-Mart: To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same things as rich people.
- Warby Parker: To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially-conscious businesses.
It's your turn to create a powerful mission statement
So, here is my challenge to you and your company...
Write a mission statement with a goal that’s an action, not a sentiment. (Notice how all of the examples above start with a future-oriented verb?)
Make it inspiring, not nebulous.
If you currently have an old wonky mission statement that sounds like a corporate Hallmark Card (you know what I’m talking about), then take it and rip it to shreds.
Reflect on your true passions and values and purpose, and write a mission statement using the guidelines above that reflects the difference your business will make in the world.
A deeply held sense of purpose leads to excellence for all of us. Expressed as your mission statement, it serves as your company’s stabilizer, providing stability, control, and steadfastness.