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What is a mission statement?
A clear mission statement helps you to define what your business will deliver. Your mission statement will provide you with a sense of purpose and give you a clear direction about the path forward. It can also clarify for your customers who you are and where you are going.
Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement
A vision statement is an overarching dream for your company for the next ten to twenty years. A vision statement encapsulates and can refer to your business values.
Your mission statement follows the vision statement, also reflecting the values, but with more specific detail about what you do and what can be considered your core functions. A business mission statement should also be created with the long term in mind and changed only when this becomes outdated or irrelevant.
Key elements of effective mission statements
There are several key themes or topics that your mission statement could touch on. These references could relate to the various contexts or markets in which the business is placed and detail what makes your business unique. Focus on a particular idea that you feel best describes your business. Then, run through this list of possible inclusions and see which references feel the most suitable to include. Key elements of effective mission statements to reference can include:
If you run a restaurant, your mission statement could refer to the fine food and beverage, or hospitality industry. If you are in manufacturing, your mission statement could make mention of that. By describing your industry, you clarify the kind of work you do and what you offer.
Products or applications
Many companies refer to the products or services they provide within their mission statement. If you sell only shoes, make your mission statement specific to that, if you brew craft beers, mention them.
Many companies refer to being the leaders in their field or the best at what they do. By asserting your competence in your mission statement, you are committing to staying ahead of the pack.
Your market segment is the type of customers you will provide services to. If you only make cots for babies or clothes for teenagers, it makes sense to get specific about who your target is within your mission statement.
Depending on what you do, and the scale and size of your operation, you may want to mention either your city, state or country in your mission statement.
How to write a mission statement
A mission statement helps your business to be clear about what you are seeking to accomplish. A mission statement goes deeper than a superficial summary of what you build, trade or sell. Your mission statement should be both aspirational and inspirational. It should be so compelling that others will be able to see where you are heading and want to come with you on the journey.
Step 1- Interview yourself!
Spend some time thinking about your hopes for your business and what will make it unique. Make notes with ideas, keywords or phrases that come to your mind. Ask yourself:
- What is our business?
- Who is the customer?
- What is of value to the customer?
Step 2- Hone in on key ideas
You may have created a page or more with ideas and thoughts for your perfect mission statement. The next step is to review all of these ideas and hone in on the words that seem the best fit for your intention. Focus on words that inspire and excite you the most, and use them to draft your statement. Mission statements are always written in the present tense and should be powerful, emotive and clear.
Step 3- Edit and review
Once you’ve got your first draft down, read it again to check if there are any parts that seem excessive, or where you could use a single word to replace two or three. Remember to keep your statement sharp and shiny. If you’re struggling to find the right word- try a thesaurus!
Step 4- Finalise and proudly display your mission statement
You’ll know when your mission statement feels right. Once you are happy with it, keep your mission statement where you can read it regularly to keep you motivated and on track.
Examples of mission statements
The Body Shop
The Body Shop has not changed its inspiring mission statement in more than thirty years of operation.
“The Body Shop exists to fight for a fairer, more beautiful world” is a short and powerful mission statement. This example focuses on what is of value to the customer, because The Body Shops target consumers are those with a social conscience.
The company’s intent to operate globally is indicated through their use of the word “world”, and they mention their activities around empowerment and community development before they even refer to their primary products, which is beauty. This reference may be subtle, but the mission statement says a lot about their brand and the way they want to be perceived in the minds of customers.
Netflix doesn’t only seek to stream programs and movies, they state that their business is there to entertain. Their simple mission statement is “To entertain the world.” They clearly position themselves within the entertainment industry and then describe it on a worldwide scale.
So here we have another multi-national company referring to their global plans by referring to the world in their mission statement. This statement also hints at competence and market dominance.
Fashion company Uniqlo respond to all three of the question prompts. Their mission statement says,
“We provide high quality, trendy and basic casual wear at the lowest prices – a casual wear that anybody can wear whenever and wherever.”
This tells us a lot about their product, who it is for and what the value is. It clearly articulates what the company make, the price point, and the intended market. The statement does cover a lot of the potential themes described earlier but is clear, friendly and engaging.
Tech giants Sony want “To be a company that inspires and fulfils your curiosity.” Their statement includes no real mention of the business, or identification of a particular customer, an industry or a geographical area. However, the direct use of the word “your” positions everyone as a customer. Who wouldn’t want to be inspired or have their curiosity fulfilled?
Cibo is a coffee shop franchise, founded in Adelaide in 2000 and now has more than 30 locations across Australia. Their mission is to “serve authentic Italian coffee with traditional offerings, all served in an ambient, charming atmosphere.” The use of specific details (Italian coffee) and descriptive words like authentic, ambient and charming speak volumes about Cibo’s strategy of selling an experience alongside good coffee. This mission statement is a good example of articulating what the company perceives that their customer values.
“To provide authentic hospitality by making a difference in the lives of the people we touch every day”.
The Hyatt also uses the word authentic, which is in reference to a perceived customer value. This statement also directly mentions the customer, directing the mission statement towards the people who interact with the company. To differentiate themselves from their competitors, Hyatt refers to what makes them different, and how this will flow on to make a difference for their customers.
Square’s mission statement is simple. Square deliver “Economic Empowerment” to the thousands of business owners who use Square to manage their businesses. With a commitment to enabling business owners to take control of their finances without prohibitive costs or technology that is difficult or time consuming for the user.
Many of your customers may never read your mission statement. However, your mission statement is an important driver for you, and your employees. Your mission statement will become part of your corporate identity and your brand. Today’s customers are savvy- they will soon notice if there is a disconnect between the kind of business you say you are and the kind of business you really are.