How to write a business mission statement in 5 steps

Are you writing (or rewriting) your company’s mission statement? It’s a task that can take almost as much time and thought as constructing your business plan.

A company mission statement is an abbreviated version of what your business does. The best ones do wonders for the brands and corporate cultures they represent. Your mission statement provides an opportunity to specify your core competencies, your product (or service) and why it exists, as well as your target market. It’s a way to stand out from competitors, align your team with your company’s purpose, and pave the way to future success.

When you or your employees are stuck in the grind of day-to-day work, taking a moment to remember the mission statement can provide motivation and a sense of direction that supports decision-making. Give your mission statement all the time and energy it needs so that it will serve you and your company for years to come.

Here are five steps to write a great mission statement:

1. Ask yourself why your company exists and what you value

What’s the primary reason for your company’s existence? What core value do you provide your customers, employees, shareholders, community, and even the world?

Your company might exist for a very specific purpose, like serving a subset of a population in a specific area. Or maybe it serves a broader audience globally. Hashing out what you do, why you do it, and how you do it will give you foundational pieces for a good mission statement.

2. Choose your words carefully

Each word in a mission statement matters. To stand out from competitors in your industry, let your voice, values, and mission shine through. This means avoiding buzzwords and focusing on your core competencies.

If this feels challenging, and you don’t know exactly what sets your small business apart, then you should do some serious thinking. Crafting your statement is a powerful exercise. It reveals the weight your statement could hold in the future. It also brings you in touch with your ideals. The act of explaining so much in such little space will force you to really pick apart what matters.

Any of your employees should be able to tell your mission statement apart from others without already knowing it’s yours. The statement should be short and hard to forget. When employees can remember it with ease, chances are they’ll be more likely to align with it.

Take Starbucks’ corporate mission statement: “to inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”

This one is easy for employees to remember. It also focuses on the company’s core competencies: coffee, customer service, and perhaps even community service to some extent.

3. Be ambitious

Now that you (and trusted advisors and team members) have determined what ideas to include, and you’re putting the words together, don’t forget to be ambitious.

Tesla certainly has that covered with their mission statement. Their goal “is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” And so far that statement has stood the test of time.

In a few years, if your mission statement no longer embodies your business and culture, you should change it rather than trying to fit your values to an outdated statement. That said, if you can come up with a statement now that will stick with employees and remain relevant as your business grows, you absolutely should.

Find a balance between being realistic about what you do well and what you’re working toward for the future. Setting ambitious goals can paint a roadmap for your team. They give everyone inspiration to work toward their full potential each day.

Goals also demonstrate to customers just where your heart is. Although you might not be perfect in achieving your mission today, your mission statement shows your customers and employees where you’re going. It also lets them hold you accountable.

4. Revise your mission statement

Once you and your team have a statement you like, it’s time to test and even break it. See what other employees, friends, and customers think. Show it to as many people as you can to elicit feedback.

Before you reach this step, don’t look at too many examples of mission statements from other companies. This will help you generate a statement based more on your own thoughts about your business without too much outside influence.

Once you’ve developed your own language, take a look at mission statement examples like those of Google, Patagonia, or Amazon. They can help inspire the format or angle you want to take with your statement.

5. Live it

When you’re happy with your statement, the fun has just begun. Actions speak far louder than words, and the only way to turn your statement from a collection of words into a tangible and inspiring mission is to live it every day.

Think about ways you can share your statement with everyone involved in your business. Include it on your website and marketing materials. You can even incorporate it into internal messaging and company-wide meetings.

Always work on ways to embody your mission each day. Doing so consistently will let it seep into all corners of your business and help drive your business in the years to come.

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