Mission Statements: Why You Need One and How to Write It

Your mission statement defines your business goals in three key ways: what the company does for its customers, what it does for its employees, and what it does for its owners. A mission statement describes a business's current reason for being. It is sometimes referred to as  company mission, corporate mission, or corporate purpose.

A mission statement describes where you are right now and how you plan to accomplish your current goals whereasthe vision statement focuses on the future and where you want to go in the future. Meanwhile a unique value proposition tends to focus more on positioning your company with competitors. 

 

Why You Need a Mission Statement

A well-formed mission statement can support your brand in many ways. Use your mission statement to:

  • Accurately pinpoint your business strategy and identity — Your mission statement forces you to narrow in on what you’re trying to accomplish in your business. It helps you to succinctly sum up your strategy and identity, giving a focus to your brand.
  • Quickly communicate business goals and values — Your mission statement can give the basics of your business philosophy to people who are curious about your company.
  • Guide decision making — Your mission statement helps you maintain consistency in marketing and product development. Your brand can be shaped by the decisions made throughout your company, both in the present and in the future, with the guidance of a carefully formed mission statement.
  • Unify the entire company under one banner — Your mission statement is helpful for your entire staff. It can provide a clear concept of the direction which you want your company to take, and it can help to ensure that all your employees are on the same page  as your company grows and develops.

A good mission statement gives prospective customers a reason to do business with you, and gives your own employees something to rally behind.

 

What Goes in a Mission Statement

Like a brand itself, a mission statement’s contents can be flexible. Sometimes it’s a single sentence, sometimes it’s a paragraph, sometimes it’s an entire page. As a best practice, try to limit yours to a paragraph or two, but don’t feel restricted if you want to add more.

Your mission statement should answer a few key questions about your brand:

  • Customers:
    What problem do you solve for your customers?
    What do you do and why do you do it?
    What market do you serve and what benefits do you offer?
  • Owners:
    Do you want to make a profit, or is it enough to just make a living?
    What are your financial or personal goals for the business?
  • Employees:
    What working situation do you create for your employees?
    What are your values as an employer?
     

While these are the main points of a mission statement, you may want to expand to discuss special processes, ambitions or the company philosophy. Remember that a mission statement should showcase the unique personality of your brand so avoid over generalizations.

 

How to Write a Mission Statement

Even though it’s short, writing a mission statement isn’t always easy. If you find it difficult to get started, follow our five-step process below. Before you begin, you may find it helpful to complete the preparation exercises at the end of this article to help get your creative juices flowing.

  1. Define your business goals, strategy, and ethics.
    You can’t write a mission statement if you don’t know what your mission is. Collect your thoughts and write out a brief description of your brand’s business model and ethics. Also describe the personality you’d like your brand to have. Answering the four questions above is a good start.
  2. Create a list of keywords.
    What words best represent your brand? Traditional or Innovative? Affordable or High-end? These are the words you will sprinkle throughout your mission statement: a single powerful word can make more impact than a sentence-long description.
  3. Flex your writing muscles and look for the most potent words. 
    For example, careful does not hold as much weight as meticulous. Break out the thesaurus if you’re struggling.
  4. Frame everything as a story using the keywords. Take time to write a first draft. Try to present your information as a narrative: who you are, what you do, what makes you special. Aim for a paragraph, but don’t be afraid to go longer. You can always cut it down later. If you just keep writing, you may find that usable ideas flow more easily.
  5. Summarize with a powerful leading statement.
    Once you have the bulk of your mission statement written, you’ll want to summarize your brand’s mission into a single sentence (or a series of punchy words). This can be catchy or inspirational.
  6. Refine meticulously.
    Mission statements should be short and sweet. Keep cutting, editing, combining, and rewriting until you have something that’s both engaging and quick to read.