A large percentage of companies, including most of the Fortune 500, have corporate mission statements. According to Randell S. Hansen, mission statements are designed to provide direction to an organization. It acts as an invisible hand that guides the organization and explains the organization’s reason for being. In short, it answers the question, “What business are we in?”
Whether building a business or a personal brand you absolutely need a mission statement. As a content writer who is constantly hired to write bios and about me/us sections for websites, one of the most common things I encounter are businesses or brands without mission statements. Having a carefully crafted mission statement is one of the first things businesses/brands need to invest in, way before they begin to sell their products or services.
You wouldn't build a house without first creating a blueprint of where the walls will go or where the rooms will be. You wouldn't buy furniture and decorate the house without ensuring that the roof is properly built and the floors are properly laid, so why would you start a business without laying the foundation first? I know that sometimes the excitement overwhelms us and we're eager to get started, but you have to crawl before you walk. If not, you'll end up flat on your face.
When I get contracted to work with someone to create what is generally the first thing prospective customers and clients look at (bios & about me/us sections) I ask "What is your mission statement?" Not surprisingly, more often than not, they don’t have one. If you aren't clear on your own or your business's purpose how will you make sure that you don't sway from your core values. Mission statements serve as your compass and help keep you aligned with your purpose.
Mission statements may seem overused and unimportant in the scheme of things, but having a well-crafted one ensures that you never veer too far off from the reason you started in the first place. Below are three reasons why you should definitely have a mission statement.
KEEPS YOU FOCUSED. When you have a mission statement you in essence are defining why it is your business/brand exists. Your mission statement clearly states your purpose and it highlights the problem your business/brand seeks to solve. Additionally, it can give you a framework for evaluating opportunities and deciding whether they fit your core business model and strategy.
DETERMINES THE BUSINESS/BRAND DIRECTION. The mission statement helps keep you and your business on the right track. It will help guide you back to your business’s main purpose should you find yourself veering off your intended path. It keeps everyone clear on the direction of the organization. And as Andy Stanley says, “It’s your direction, not your intention, that determines your destination.”
SIMPLIFIES THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS. A clearly defined mission statement sets important boundaries which enable you to delegate both responsibility and authority when necessary. When everyone on your team is clear on the mission it makes those seemingly difficult decisions easier. When you’re clear on your mission you measure your potential choices by how closely they align with your core beliefs and purpose. Mission is to the business what a compass is to an explorer or a map is to a tourist. It provides a framework for making the tough decisions and it provides the boundaries you need in order to stay on the path to your preferred future.
If you’re not sure how to get started writing a mission statement start by defining who you are. Identify your customer base. What services, products, or skills are you offering? How and where are you offering it? What sets you apart and makes you different? Then start working on putting that into a well thought out mission statement. Keep it short, simple, and specific.
If you’re still unsure about how to write your own mission statement, then Google mission statements of some of the most successful businesses and brands that you admire and respect. For example, consider this example from the world’s dominant search provider:
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
It’s short and specific, yet it remains flexible enough that the company can grow and expand beyond being just an Internet search provider. Remember, remaining flexible and open to change is what keeps the most successful companies successful.