How to Write a Mission Statement that Doesn’t Suck

May 14, 2012

A mission statement is probably the fewest, yet most powerful sentences you could ever write about your business.  It describes your business’s purpose for existence, and will be used for years when referencing your business.

Here are some great tips, questions to ask yourself, and examples to help you write a mission statement that won’t suck:

What is a Mission Statement Really?

I guess first let’s clarify what a mission statement is before you try to write it.  Think of a mission statement as the big picture about your business.  It’s about what you want to accomplish.  What is your business doing that is important, besides making money?

Think of Mission Impossible.  You’re being handed a mission to complete something.  What is it?

write a mission statement

Write Your Mission Statement First

Most business planning guides will tell you to write this last when you write your executive summary.  Of course this is just my personal experience in my own business and from talking to other entrepreneurs, but many actually write this first because you usually see the “vision” first.  It’s also used frequently on websites, company descriptions (like LinkedIn company descriptions), etc.

You’ll probably actually use a mission statement long before you ever need or use a business plan.  The plus is it doesn’t take that long to create, and won’t make you depressed when you have to trash it.  Customers will also warp your mission statement over time as you find your niche, so don’t ever get too attached to it.

Set the Tone for the Mission Statement

A mission statement should be passionate, but be careful to not over do it (don’t use the word “epic”).  Try to avoid words that unfamiliar to the general public.  Sounds fancy, but it really just confuses people.  Break out the thesaurus (there is one on the internet), substitute one or two words for something out of the ordinary, that’s it.  Just give it a little omph, while still making it very clear (and plain English) what you do.  Avoid long descriptions, technical details, functionality, numbers, or any specifics.

For example: Tech Crunch blogs about startups.  This is probably more of a one-line business description, but for example we’re going to turn it into: TechCrunch obsessively blogs about startups.

Focus on One Core Strength

Your business probably does many things.  Everyone wants everyone to know everything they do, because they don’t want to miss out on an opportunity.  If your mission statement is so many things that any business in the world could adopt it, then it doesn’t do you much good. A mission statement should tell you why you’re unique to the world. Try to focus on one thing.  If there were one thing that your customers remembered about your business, what would it be?  What’s your business’s strength?

Hire a Writer with the Right Skill

If you’re willing to give up $100 to have a clear, passionate mission portrayed into words; hire a writer.  There is usually two types of writers: technical and creative.  If your customers are more left brained, then get a technical writer.  If your customers are more right brained, then get a creative writer.  Someone who specializes in branding plus writing is also really good for this.

Corporate VS Small Business Mission Statements

Another thing you want to think about before you write a mission statement, is the difference between a corporate or public company mission statement, and a small business mission statement.  If you actually compare differences between the two, corporate mission statements almost always include something about providing value for shareholders.  Mostly because they are composed of…shareholders.  However, with a small business….you rely solely on your customers.  So think about what it is important to them when you write a mission statement.

Mission Statement Examples:

“Shareholder Centric” Mission Statement:

To build shareholder value by delivering pharmaceutical and healthcare products, services and solutions in innovative and cost effective ways. We will realize this mission by setting the highest standards in service, reliability, safety and cost containment in our industry.

“Customer Centric” Mission Statement:

To not only listen to our customers and booksellers, but embrace and live the idea that the Company is at their service.

Walmart Mission Statement:

We save people money so they can live better.  If we work together, we’ll lower the cost of living for everyone…we’ll give the world an opportunity to see what it’s like to save and have a better life.

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