You may have heard that writing a mission statement is a fundamental step in business planning. There’s some truth to that, but only if you write your mission statement properly.
In this guide, we are going to look at what a mission statement is, why it’s so important, and how to write a great one for your business.
What is a Mission Statement?
A mission statement is a way to clearly state the purpose your organization serves. It should cover what your business does, and why it does it.
That can be trickier than it sounds because you should aim to keep your mission statement very brief. According to the most common definitions of a “mission statement,” it should be just a single sentence or a short paragraph.
Lastly, since mission statements outline a company’s ongoing purpose, they typically don’t change much over time.
Mission Statement Examples
To give you a better idea of exactly what mission statements involve, here are some mission statement examples from leading companies:
To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.
To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.
*If you have a body, you are an athlete.
To enrich the lives of everyone in WestJet’s world. We’re proud to have won awards that show us you think we do.
Why are Mission Statements Important?
A great mission statement can serve several important functions. Firstly, it can be a valuable tool to keep your business on track.
It’s something you can come back to again and again whenever you’re setting goals or making a big decision about your business. It allows you to look at a clear and concise statement of purpose for your business and ask yourself what is the best way to serve that purpose.
Essentially, a mission statement can be the foundation of everything your business does. It can help with:
- Directing your business planning.
- Evaluating your performance.
- Providing guidance to employees.
- Ensuring that all stakeholders are working towards the same goals.
- Giving employees a sense of identity.
Not Just for Internal Use
Keep in mind that some people will look at your mission statement when they’re deciding whether to do business with you. So whether it’s a potential customer, prospective employee, or a possible investor, you’re going to want to have a well-written mission statement that draws them in.
What to Include in Your Mission Statement
Your mission statement should be unique to your business, so what you should include will depend on your particular focus and values. Typically, a mission statement includes a basic description of the company, its purpose, and its goals.
A mission statement can also cover how the company serves:
How to Write a Mission Statement
Here is a step-by-step process on how to get started writing a mission statement:
- Write a sentence that explains what your company does, in basic terms.
- List some of your core values.
- Keeping those core values in mind, write a sentence that explains how your company does what it does.
- Write a sentence that explains why your company does what it does.
- Take a look at the three sentences you’ve written, and then try to combine and condense those ideas so your mission statement is as straight-to-the-point as possible.
Keeping it Concise
You may find it challenging to keep your mission statement short because there’s probably a lot you want to say about your business’s purpose. But remember, you can include that information elsewhere.
For example, on many leading companies’ websites, below the mission statement, they include sections that provide more details such as “Core Values”, “About us”, or a vision statement.
Mission Statement vs Vision Statement
A mission statement differs from a vision statement (although some companies choose to lump them together). While a mission statement focuses on the company’s fundamental purpose, a vision statement typically outlines where the company plans to be in the future and provides more details on its strategy to get there.
Here are some vision statement examples to help you tell the difference:
Vision Statement Examples
“To move with velocity to drive profitable growth and become an even better McDonald’s serving more customers delicious food each day around the world.”
“To entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.”
“Our mission is to be the world’s leading manufacturer of planes and trains.
We are committed to providing superior value and service to our customers and sustained profitability to our shareholders by investing in our people and products.
We lead through innovation and outstanding product safety, efficiency and performance. Our standards are high. We define excellence—and we deliver.”
How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Mission Statements
According to some experts, many companies have mission statements that are too vague, unrealistic, or are just a meaningless string of business jargon. So here are some tips on how to avoid the common pitfalls of mission statements.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when writing a mission statement is to be accurate, and only include things that actually relate to your business. Don’t simply include words that sound good. If you do that, you may end up with a mission statement that sounds catchy, but it loses its usefulness as a guide for your company.
It’s good to be ambitious, but your mission statement should be realistic. If the mission statement sets a purpose and goals that are clearly unobtainable, employees will take it less seriously. Also, it can even discourage employees by reminding them of how far they are falling short.
Avoid writing a mission statement that’s generic or vague. One useful trick is to ask yourself if one of your competitors could use the exact same mission statement. This will help you focus on being more specific about your unique purpose, goals, and values.
Now you know what it takes to craft an effective mission statement. So put these tips into practice and you’ll have a clear and concise statement that can keep your company on track.