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In business, having a clear mission statement is crucial for guiding your company’s growth and decision-making processes, as entrepreneur and small business guru Anita Campbell rightly stated.
Understanding the Power of a Mission Statement
A mission statement is a concise statement that captures the essence of your business’s purpose, values, and goals – why you exist and what you aim to achieve. It acts as a compass, providing direction and focus for your organisation, and aligning your team’s efforts.
A well-crafted mission statement helps in defining your company’s identity, serving as a guidepost for every decision made.
Yet many businesses lack an actionable mission that truly shapes decisions and culture. Vague, generic statements don’t provide real guidance.
In fact, defining a clear mission is sufficiently important that it is not just the responsibility / function of the CEO, but is a board-level responsibility so is driven by the board. The CEO is generally the senior ‘architect’ of the process, and works with the board members and the executive team, co-opting and involving others, too, as required.
So, with that understanding, let’s look at how to craft a meaningful mission statement that focuses your efforts and lights the path ahead.
Crafting Your Mission Statement
To create an effective mission statement, start by reflecting on what your business aims to achieve and the values it upholds. Consider the following:
1. Define Your Purpose
What is the core reason behind your business’s existence? What problem are you solving, or what need are you fulfilling? Your purpose should capture the unique value you offer to your customers and the impact you strive to make.
Consider, for example, Tesla’s mission statement, “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
This mission statement clearly defines Tesla’s purpose of driving the adoption of renewable energy, emphasising its commitment to sustainability. This clear purpose has not only resulted in it becoming the world’s most valuable auto manufacturer (with a value of around that of the next 10 most valuable companies combined), but has resulted in its competitors putting aside their scepticism and embracing electric vehicles.
2. Identify Your Values
What principles and beliefs guide your business? Values are the ethical foundations that shape your company’s culture and behaviour. They serve as a compass for your team, ensuring that everyone is aligned with the same core principles.
Look beyond profits. Mission-driven companies have a positive impact on the world. Patagonia’s mission to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” shows how purpose can uplift a mission.
This isn’t just a statement, but a commitment that influences their choices, from sustainable sourcing to activism. This mission steers them, ensuring they remain true to their values even as they navigate growth.
3. Set Tangible Goals
Your mission statement should also include specific and measurable goals. Outline what you aspire to achieve in the short and long term, giving your team a clear target to work towards.
Google’s goal, stated when it started some 25 years ago, was “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Consider, for a moment, that only about 3.5% of the world was connected to the Internet in those days so it might well have seemed an impossible goal. How often, though, do the 70%+ of the world connected today rely on this mission statement for both work and leisure? No wonder it’s valued consistently in the top 5 of companies worldwide.
4. K I S S, Communicate & Live It
Having defined your mission, you need to craft the statement carefully, expressing it in clear, inspiring language so it can resonate with your audience (internal and external). Use vivid verbs that create a vision of the impact you make. Be specific yet flexible enough to allow creativity in execution.
For example, Disney’s mission to “make people happy” is simple yet powerful. It suggests imagination and joy while allowing room for reinventing how they fulfil this across their businesses.
Communicate consistently through your website, signage, presentations, and employee onboarding. Reference the mission when communicating wins and losses to reinforce its central role in decisions. Lead mission-focused meetings and offsites.
Weave stories showcasing your mission in action, through customer testimonials, employee experiences, or community impact examples. This brings the mission to life, and living your mission is vital to its success – it must be tightly woven into all you do and say.
5. Review and Refresh
Revisit your mission annually to ensure it remains relevant amidst change. Update language or emphasis based on new opportunities or forces. And, as you grow remain true to what makes you special.
Collect employee and customer perceptions. Does your mission still resonate and guide decisions? Refine anything unclear. Regularly realigning keeps the mission top of mind across the organisation.
The Benefits of a Well-Defined Mission Statement
A well-crafted mission statement offers numerous advantages for your business:
- Strategic Decision-Making – A mission statement is not just a piece of rhetoric – it sets the tone for the way your business operates. It acts as a moral compass, guiding decision-making and ensuring that actions are consistent with your values. When faced with challenging choices or crossroads, referring to your mission statement can help you stay true to your purpose.
- Employee Alignment – Your mission statement is not only a tool for external communication but also an internal rallying point. It should inspire and motivate your team, fostering a sense of shared purpose and unity. When employees understand and connect with the mission, they become more engaged and committed to achieving the organisation’s goals.
- Customer Trust and Loyalty – A well-defined mission statement enhances your business’s credibility and builds trust with customers, partners, and stakeholders. And when your stakeholders perceive alignment between your mission and their own values, they are more likely to trust and remain loyal to your brand. Your mission statement communicates your commitment to delivering value and sets the expectations for your products or services, and when your actions consistently align with your mission, it enhances your reputation for authenticity and reliability.
- Brand Differentiation – A strong mission statement really sets your business apart from competitors. It communicates your unique value proposition to customers, defining your purpose and values, and your commitment to them, so that stakeholders can truly understand what to expect from you, and why.
Defining your mission is a fundamental step towards building a successful business. It provides clarity, direction, and purpose, guiding your decisions and shaping your organisation’s culture.
Take the time to craft a mission statement that truly reflects your business’s essence, values, and goals. Weave your mission into culture, empower employees in its pursuit, and keep it up to date.
By doing so, you’ll pave the way for long-term success and make a lasting impact in your industry.
And remember, too, as Stephen Covey said, “If you don’t set your goals based upon your Mission Statement, you may be climbing the ladder of success only to realize, when you get to the top, you’re on the WRONG building.”
Does your mission statement truly reflect your business purpose and values?
Comment in the box below.
If you’d like learn more on this topic, these related articles and posts might be of interest:
Other posts in this month’s focus on Defining Your Purpose and Values:
- Finding Your Why – “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek
- Crafting Your Vision – “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” – Jack Welch
- “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” – Joel A. Barker
- “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren Bennis
- “Leadership is not about what you say, it’s about what you do.” – Jesse Eker
- 10 Principles for a Sustainably Excellent Culture – Beginning With “We”
- “Company culture matters. How management chooses to treat its people impacts everything for better or for worse.” – Simon Sinek
- Are You Running Your Business or Leading It?
- The Power of Accountability in Business Success
- Going from Good to Great – How Companies Achieve Greatness
- Does Your Business Strategy Match Your Company Culture? The Risks of a Mismatch.
- You’re Driving, But Does Everyone Know The Destination?
- Is Your Strategy Fit for Purpose?
- The Role & Responsibilities of the Company Board
- The 50 Most Valuable Companies in the World in 2023
- The World’s Top Car Manufacturers by Market Capitalization (pub. 2021)
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