The Elusive Mission Statement

A How-To Guide for the Rest of Us

Let’s start off at square one. Should you bother even having a mission statement? Does it hold a purpose? Does having a well-defined statement actually help your business? In short, the answer to all three questions is a resounding, “Yes!” If you don’t currently have a mission statement on paper, chances are you were still thinking about it as you were establishing and growing your business. Let’s look at why you should be writing out your mission and vision, and how you can begin to hone yours.

Why It Matters

Having a well-tailored mission statement doesn’t just help you and your employees stick to a common goal. A great mission statement can also help 1) give direction to your business’s strategic plans, 2) attract and retain your current clientele, and 3) provide a valuable template and framework for evaluations and interactions. Plus, it looks really good on the back of your team t-shirts.

The Vision (Where You’re Headed)

Your vision statement is the inspiration snapshot of your business that answers the simple question, “What?” What do you want to achieve over time? What will you do with your business that will make a difference in the future? Answer these questions and you will have your vision statement. This future-focused statement should consider what you want your business to professionally achieve five or ten years from now. If you’re branching out into the photography business, your vision might be to bring joy to all people of Dallas by forever capturing their beautifully candid moments. If you sew quilts and are passionate about social issues, your vision might be to ensure that all the homeless people of your area receive a quilt by the year 20XX.

The Mission (Why You’re Here)

Did you consider the questions “who” or “why” when you were in the early stages of business startup and growth? If yes, then you’ve already unofficially started your mission statement! Put simply, a mission statement tells why you feel passionate enough about this occupation/idea/product to promote it wherever you go. If you’re an optometrist, for example, what you do might be taking your twenty years of expertise to bring excellence to eye care and the best service to your patients. If you’re a marketing guru, what you do might be taking old-fashioned websites and promotional materials and rebranding them into high-functioning, user-friendly sites and designs to help your clients’ businesses grow.

The How-To

Crafting the perfect mission statement doesn’t have to be difficult. If you have a general idea of who you are, why you do what you do, and where you’d like your business to be ten years from now, you’re well on your way. Now, all you have to do is put it into writing. Try starting your mission statement with We believe or we envision, to deliver, to design, etc. Naturally, your first sentence can answer the question, “Why?” Your next few sentences should incorporate the primary focus of your business, your target audience, and what it is you offer. Remember, a mission statement should be no longer than a paragraph (3-5 sentences), should encompass the who and why of your business, and should be straightforward and to-the-point. Don’t rush! It will take time to find the best way to describe your business’s mission. Take a few days to write multiple drafts until you find the perfect one!