A mission statement is an action-based statement that defines why an organization exists, its goals, and its values. The words you choose for a mission statement can affect every part of the business, including customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Use your mission statement to inspire your market then demonstrate your values in the actions you take as a business.
As you can see below, the impact of your values on your market is vast. Fifty-seven percent of consumers will boycott your brand based on the position you take along the social and political spectrum. For instance, Disney is currently under a microscope for its failure to stand up to a recent law in Florida commonly referred to as the “don’t say gay” law. After a number of employees walked out of Disney’s failure to take a stand against the law as it made its way through the state legislature, Disney finally stated its intention to see a repeal of the law.
Companies craft mission statements to unify business efforts towards a long-term goal. Departments and teams may develop their own mission statements within a company that focus on their unique function within the larger umbrella of the organizational mission statement. However, the overall mission statement of the organizations is usually broad enough to accommodate these individual mission statements and never conflicts with mission statements for individual units. You can use a mission statement to communicate your values to the community to generate interest in your company solutions, as well as to attract employees, investors, and society at large.
Why mission statements are important
A mission statement is essential in all aspects of a business or project as it helps you create your company’s core identity and establish the basis upon which everyone makes decisions. A strong mission statement that people relate to attracts like-minded people to work together naturally and also provides a guide for your company culture and workplace environment to help make strategic decisions.
Your mission statement should also inspire your market outside the business, such as consumers and investors.
Using a mission statement to inspire your market
A mission statement, at least those that serve the organization well, are broad enough to encompass the business both now and in the future. Despite this, mission statements are updated periodically as the world around the business changes and the emphasis on values shifts. For instance, diversity is a key value in today’s marketplace (as well as workplaces) so adding a commitment to diversity to your mission statement is warranted.
Crafting a mission statement is challenging as it often involves multiple stakeholders in generating a statement that succinctly states the guiding principles for the firm, as well as who they are; a somewhat challenging activity when you have a number of voices in the milieu. Moreover, your mission statement shouldn’t hogtie the business with overly restrictive notions of what the business does.
An example might help to illustrate what I mean here.
There’s a marketing (and management) concept called marketing myopia. Just as individuals are sometimes myopic (short-sighted), a mission statement that’s myopic limits the ability of the business to expand and grow. The classic example of marketing myopia comes to us from Theodore Levitt (a Harvard professor) regarding the railroad industry. In the early days of the industry, railroads primarily moved people from place to place. In fact, the railroads are credited with helping to settle the west (a somewhat problematic distinction in today’s environment where the rights of indigenous people are valued by a large group of consumers). The mission of these early railroads encompassed this service. With the proliferation of automobiles, moving people via train lost its luster and passenger revenue declined precipitously to the point where the entire industry was in danger of failing. Saving the rail system relied on a re-definition of trains as moving products rather than people, something many railroads were too slow to embrace. In part, this reluctance came from inertia (we do things the way we always did things) and the high cost of transitioning from plush passenger cars to utilitarian freight cars. In the end, the federal government subsidized the transition that allowed the railroads to survive. Now, trains move more than 1.7 billion tons of freight per year.
In crafting your mission statement, you must weigh the tasks of defining who you are (commonly defined by the market you serve rather than the product you provide) while you inspire your market by showing your commitment to society. Here are some ways to craft a mission statement that both inspires your market and provides a guide to help you make strategic decisions.
1. Keep it concise
A mission statement should concisely explain your aspirations, help you focus on what is important, and provide a basis on which to develop your strategic plan. It’s difficult to choose the right mission statement, as you can see from my earlier discussion, but try and settle on the most important information and not an essay. A concise statement gives employees a sense of purpose, ownership, and direction to achieve company success while you inspire your market with your core values.
Here’s an example of a good, concise mission statement:
Sweetgreen: To inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food.
Note that they share their core value of contributing to healthy eating without limiting themselves to their current menu or even to restaurants. This leaves a lot of opportunities to grow. For instance, they can offer a box meal plan within their current mission.
2. Describe what you do
A mission statement should describe what you do in general terms and not provide a detailed explanation that limits opportunities. Creating a perfect mission statement that meets this requirement is challenging.
But you can overcome this challenge by including a variety of voices in the decision. Use the information you already have to guide you as you describe what you do in the best way possible without limiting future growth. For inspiration, you can look at statements by your competitors to see how to differentiate your business from theirs.
For instance, the mission statement for Warby Parker might limit opportunities for growth by focusing on their product rather than their market. To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.
3. Describe your goals
Your business goals help you establish priorities and set your company up for success. Your mission statement should make it easy for customers to understand what your business wishes to achieve. Business goals provide a pathway for success, keep everyone on the same page, and ensure that your company is heading in the right direction as they guide strategic decisions.
4. Describe the business’s purpose
The purpose of your business can give your mission statement more impact. Your business purpose is the reason why you formed your company in the first place and should boil down to a single sentence. The purpose should relate to your specific industry while not focusing on a single product so as to include future business activities. Explaining your purpose through the mission statement can get you extra attention and interest.
5. Identify your core values
Your company’s core values are principles encapsulating your vision and mission. Core values also double as the definition of company culture, and in many ways, values are synonymous with culture. Core values are about your company’s higher aspirations, and you need to ensure that all stakeholders understand and commit to the core values of the business. As mentioned earlier, consumers make purchase decisions based on the core values expressed by the firm.
6, Be accurate
Your mission statement should include things that honestly relate to your business. If you make up a nice set of core values because you think it will inspire your market without living those values within the firm, stakeholders quickly discover the deception and the blowback is worse than not sharing your values or being honest in the first place.
Your mission statement is the foundation of a good strategy. Hence you need to get it right to express your core purpose and why your company exists with clarity. Write your mission statement in present tense using concrete language. A solid language makes it easier for the audience to interpret what exactly your mission statement is.
7. Be Realistic
Don’t be too ambitious when creating a mission statement. Make it realistic and achievable so that your followers find it credible. Your employees need to believe that what your mission statement envisions is what the firm strives to achieve. When your employees believe in your mission, they can buy into the company’s vision. Buying into the vision will not only benefit your company. It also gives employees a better sense of purpose when on the job.
Employee collaboration can help increase job satisfaction and produce better company outcomes. A realistic mission statement gives your company the power to establish its brand image, attract top talent, and inspire your market, including consumers and investors to support the brand.
8. Be Unique
Don’t just write something generic. Come up with a mission statement that reveals what is unique about your products and services. Making your mission statement unique is a special call for customers and a differentiator that makes people know that you are right for them. A unique mission statement should consist of one to three sentences and not exceed 100 words.
You must communicate your mission statement to your employees before their first day at work and show it prominently to other stakeholders such as on your website, masthead, and in your building lobby. As a business leader, you are under pressure to generate a perfect mission statement. It’s okay to look for help when coming up with the mission statement, and boutique digital marketing agencies NYC can help you with that.
Crating a great mission statement is challenging but applying this advice will help you create one that can inspire your market to achieve greater returns.
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