An overview of mission statements
A mission statement is a short description of a company’s purpose and goals as well as the type of products or services it provides. It is a motivational and strategic tool that allows the members of an organization to focus on the same objective. It’s also a powerful communication tool for a company, internally as well as for the public.
A mission statement defines the company by explaining:
- What the company does for its customers and employees
- What the company does for its community or for the world
- How the company accomplishes its goals and why
Why is it important to have a mission statement?
Here are some reasons why a mission statement is important for your business:
- It guides the company. A mission statement identifies and communicates the goals of an organization, which helps improve employees’ commitment to achieving them.
- It defines a company’s culture. A company’s culture is an essential element of each employee’s satisfaction. A mission statement describes the organization’s values and purpose, so employees know exactly how they can contribute effectively to the success of the company. This can also attract new candidates who share those values.
- It helps support decisions. When it’s time to make decisions, your mission statement helps you refocus on your company’s purpose. With this purpose in mind, you can more effectively decide what is best for the future of your organization.
- It defines your public image. A mission statement describes your purpose to your customers and sends a powerful message to your external audience.
- It inspires new ideas. When your team works together and discusses your company’s mission statement, it can inspire new ideas about what your organization can do.
Related: How to Grow Your Business
How to write your mission statement
Follow these steps to craft an effective mission statement for your business:
- Define what your company does for its customers
- Clarify what it does for its employees, for the world or the community
- Explain how your company does business
- Describe why your company does what it does
1. Define what your company does for its customers
Start by explaining what kind of business your company does, such as whether you produce a product or provide a service for the public. For example, your company might fix computers, tutor students or sell jewelry.
2. Clarify what it does for its employees, for the world or the community
After describing what your company does, clarify how that affects people. For instance, if your organization offers help to its employees to achieve its purpose, such as by encouraging diversity, it should be stated in your mission statement.
Don’t underestimate the purpose of your company—consider any positive impact it can have on your community or even the world. For example, you might provide your goods or services at the lowest possible cost or take measures to respect the environment.
3. Explain how your company does business
Describe the way your business operates in general and include your core values. Also, think about the things that differentiate you from your competition in the industry. It will help to define your public image. For example, you could say that you provide excellent customer service, encourage sustainable development, sell high-quality products or teach new skills to adults.
4. Describe why your company does what it does
As the final step, you need to express the passion that motivates you in your mission statement. For example, you might say that you offer products people love or help people become financially independent. It is important to think about why you started your organization in the first place.
Mission statement example
Here is an example of a mission statement following the steps mentioned:
"Financeteach Inc. provides financial education to allow adult students to learn new life skills and become financially independent. We have established a culture of empowerment and self-development so that our teachers can provide exceptional teaching to students."
By reading the mission statement, you learn the company’s name, what service it provides for its customers and why. It also demonstrates how it invests in its employees.
Related: 10 Steps to Starting a Business
Tips for creating a powerful mission statement
Here are some further tips to help you create a powerful mission statement for your business:
- Involve your employees: Your employees are well positioned to tell you about the real culture and values of your company from their perspective, so they can help you craft a mission statement that reflects a different angle. Moreover, asking their input will make them feel valued.
- Ask the right question: Instead of asking, "What is our mission?" try, "Why do we do the business we do?" or "What motivates us?" Questions with simple words will give you more grounded answers.
- Collect answers independently: Before you start group discussions about your mission statement, give each person an opportunity to answer. This step boosts creativity and helps stimulate discussion. Once you collect responses, sort through them and identify the ideas that are most frequently addressed to help you write a draft of your mission statement to share with your team.
Mission statement FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions about mission statements:
- Can a mission statement change?
- What is the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement?
- How long is a mission statement?
- What does an effective mission statement entail?
Can a mission statement change?
Typically, a mission statement remains unchanged, unless your company encounters one of these situations:
- The mission statement is unclear. A mission statement should communicate your company’s purpose internally as well as externally and should be easily understandable. If it is not clear and people aren’t sure what it means, revisit the statement and rewrite.
- The mission statement doesn’t reflect changes in the organization. If the purpose of your organization significantly changes, the mission statement should change as well.
What is the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement?
A mission statement focuses on the current activity of your company and defines its purpose. A vision statement, however, concentrates on your company’s future and describes what you would like to accomplish.
How long is a mission statement?
A mission statement should be between 50 and 100 words—about two to four sentences.
What does an effective mission statement entail?
An effective mission statement inspires and guides your business. It describes the purpose of your business and your goals in a clear and understandable way. By reading the mission statement, employees should know exactly what your organization expects from them, and customers should understand your company’s value. A mission statement is coherent with an organization’s philosophy. It helps guide a company into the future.