We’ve all seen mission statements: they’re framed near the front of an office, or posted to a company’s website. Usually they’re nothing more than fluff that few employees ever take the time to read, let alone adhere to. But a mission statement should concisely explain why your company exists, and what it aims to do in the future. It should explain your company’s values and beliefs. If a potential customer can’t get a sense of who you are as a company, your mission statement has failed to do its job. Let’s look at what you need to know about creating a mission statement that has purpose.
1. Consider it from your customers’ point of view. What do you want your customers to know about you? What promises do you want to make them that you will deliver on? Never overpromise in your mission; instead, use it to encourage higher levels of service from your staff.
2. Don’t say too much. Sure, you’ve got many values and objectives, but don’t try to overstuff your mission statement. Instead, simplify, or take a different approach. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream actually has three mission statements: its Social Mission, Product Mission and Economic Mission. Each addresses something that is important to the company, without convoluting its values by combining them into one.
3. Revisit it. Your initial mission may not apply anymore, and it’s perfectly fine to make changes over time. Put together a team to reassess where your company is headed these days, and draft a mission that better reflects it. Consider that your customers may have changed as well, and their needs should be updated in the mission statement as well.
4. Keep it simple, believable and understandable. Customers don’t want to read mumbo jumbo, so make sure your mission statement expresses clear purpose. Anyone reading it should be able to explain in their own words what you’re trying to get across. And it should be believable; aiming to please 100% of customers may not be realistic, so shoot for exceeding customers’ expectations in specifically listed ways (on-time delivery, stellar customer service, etc).
5. Explain yourself. It’s one thing to set lofty goals for your company, but it’s another to actually explain how you’ll do it. Aiming to deliver the best quality organic food? Say you’ll do it by sourcing local organic produce and using sustainable methods of preparation. Give your customers insight into how you will support your own company values.
A mission statement should complement your efforts, and it should be recognized and adhered to by your staff. Make sure your staff has input into the creation of your mission statement, and ensure that everyone at your company knows and lives the mission.
Photo: Wesley Fryer via Flickr