As a business owner, you’ve likely been told at least once (or countless times) that you need a solid mission statement to communicate what it is you do. I agree that this is good advice, but so often the person giving it doesn’t have the slightest clue as to what makes a mission statement good or why you really need one to begin with.
I’ll admit that I didn’t know either until I re-educated myself on the topic. What I found was a lot different than what I remember being taught in my Public Relations classes in college. Here’s a look at the modern makings of a solid mission statement, starting with basics.
What is a mission statement?
A mission statement serves both an internal and external purpose for your business. It shares a message with your employees as much as it shares a message with your customers. Internally, your mission statement creates focus, provides purpose and builds a solid foundation for making important business decisions. Externally, your mission statement defines who you are (especially points of differentiation) and it communicates how your work is making a difference in the world.
A good mission statement does 2 things:
- It tells the world why what you are doing matters. No matter your business or industry, the services you provide help people in some way (why else would they pay you for them?). Express this in your mission statement to demonstrate why the talents you bring to your customers matter – they help make their life easier, more enjoyable or fun.
- It leads your organization to do what matters. As I mentioned about the internal influence of your mission statement, a well-crafted one will inspire your employees to exemplify these core values every day. How they choose to interact with customers, their decision to go the extra mile and their commitment to you can all be influenced by your mission statement.
Now let’s get into the meat of things. Hopefully you are inspired to revamp your own mission statement and here’s the best way to get started. Ask yourself these two questions and immediately write down the various answers that come to mind. How you respond will help shine a spotlight on what you should include in your mission statement.
How are you different from competitors or industry stereotypes?
This question is critical for not only informing your customers, but reminding your employees of the qualities that make your business stand out. These are qualities that you should hold near and dear and promote as often as possible. Your mission statement is one big megaphone that will do just that.
What factors affect your pricing and quality of service?
This question may seem a bit more abstract, but believe me, it’s relevant. As a business owner, you need to have an intimate understanding of the factors that affect your pricing and quality of service – and select these strategically. Factors like the education or experience of your employees, commitment to innovation or attention to detail and customer service may mean you aren’t the cheapest business out there. And that’s okay! Be sure to call out these factors – that are really benefits – to your customers to ensure they understand that your mission is to compete on quality, not price.
If you get writer’s block, remember these 5 things:
- Don’t stress over word choice. This is the easiest part to nit-pick later on and the least important for initially developing your statement. Focus on the overall direction/meaning.
- Keep it short! The best mission statements are two sentences or less.
- Keep it simple! Too many organizations have long, flowery mission statements that make it difficult for the reader to comprehend what you’re really trying to say.
- Say it out loud. Does it sound awkward? Memorable? Catchy? Human? It should reflect you and your brand. Make sure that it sounds like something you would say.
- The “Disagreement Test.” Essentially this is if no one would disagree with your statement (because you say things like “make the world better” or “act with integrity”) then your statement is too generic. Don’t hide behind clichés! …Or at least save those for your vision statement.
How to Use Your Mission Statement:
Once you’ve put the time and effort into crafting a new mission statement, get the most use out of it that you can! Place it on your website (the Homepage and About page are two logical choices). Incorporate it into your social media profiles (Facebook has its own category for mission statements on its business pages). Carry it across all of your promotional materials and press releases. And finally, incorporate elements of your mission statement into the personal introduction you use at networking events and other business functions.
And because we’re on the topic of mission statements, I would be remiss to not share my own as an example:
At Bennis Public Relations, it is our mission to be your strategic partner that creates innovative and effective communication solutions that help your business grow a powerful and consistent brand.
What do you think? Share your own questions and insights about crafting a killer mission statement by commenting below!