Often we think of a business mission statement as one of those corporate-y things that big companies have filled with words like “synergies” and “conversion-centric.”
In this post, I’m going to show you that having a mission statement is a must even for smaller businesses and solopreneurs. I’m also going to help you write one for your own business.
But first, let’s define a few concepts.
What are the differences between values, vision, mission, and goals?
The following 4 terms get pretty mixed up, and you’ll hear them used interchangeably. To me, it doesn’t matter all that much how you use them or what you call things. But to make this post easier to read, here’s how I’m using them!
Just like your personal values reflect your beliefs, your business values reflect what your business believes in. If your business would “stand up” for anything, that’s a business value. They will probably be the same or very close to your personal values. They guide the behavior of your business.
It makes sense to call out values that make your business unique. For example, one of the first values people like to list is “integrity.” And while integrity is important, wouldn’t every business claim a value of integrity? It’s a bit vague unless, in your industry, it really would set you apart from someone else. Some good examples would be family time, environmentalism, creativity.
Business vision statement
Your vision statement is a future-focused statement that talks to what you or your company want to see in the world. It’s built from your business values and describes what life/the world would be like if your business was ultimately successful.
A good vision statement speaks to your beliefs and inspires you to keep doing the hard work of showing up, even when success is years away. It’s primarily for you and your company.
Business mission statement
A business mission statement is present-focused. It describes your business’s current high-level goal or plan to express its vision statement. The mission statement is generally more concrete than your vision and drives the strategy of your business. It can answer the questions of what?, for whom?, why?, and how?, among others.
The mission is a very big-picture goal of the business, and is for you and your company, but also used to communicate with the public about who you are.
I like to think of the business goals as the ways you plan to achieve your mission. Once you have that high level strategy, you can create goals to achieve the strategy. Your business goals will be how you implement the business mission.
A good goal is S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Why bother with a business mission statement?
While it’s important to have a vision for a better world, you have to have a way to get there. It’s your mission that defines YOUR path to your vision. I suspect you already have some ideas on how you’re planning to make that vision happen, or you wouldn’t be in business at all. But writing out that information and referencing it can be helpful and motivating.
A hundred different companies might have seemingly similar visions of a world with environmentally friendly renewable fuels. But they could all have very different missions or ways to realize those visions.
A good mission statement reminds you of your vision and your plan to get there. I imagine it as a guardrail keeping you on your path. As business-owning moms, we have so many distractions. Writing out and frequently seeing our business mission can help us avoid the non-urgent, unimportant distractions.
A well-written mission statement communicates to you customers who you are and whether or not you would align with his or her needs and values.
Lastly, a good mission statement will be a very high-level goal and will guide your periodic goal setting.
What do you need to include in your mission statement?
It’s really up to you what to include. Your business mission statement is really to motivate you and keep you on your path. But it can also be directed at customers and employees too. You can make it more useful by making it sincere, and entertaining if possible.
You can include all or some of the following points for a good start:
- Who you serve
- What benefits or value you provide
- How you achieve those benefits or value
- Why you do what you do
- Why your business is special
How do you write a business mission statement?
When you sit down to write your mission statement, it will probably seem daunting. First, make sure you’ve thought about your business values and your business vision. Do you know what you want to see in the world? Think about why you’re in business in the first place and how that aligns with your vision.
Write out answers to the prompts below. These are all things you may want to include. But of course, the statement is yours. Include only what feels right to you.
Then, go back and do some editing and rewriting to make a concise statement out of the ideas you’ve generated. I’ve included some templates and a link to a business mission statement generator to play around with.
Prompts for your mission statement
Idea generation time! Pull out a journal or notebook and write out answers to these prompts.
- Why are you in business in the first place? Why did you get started?
- Who do you help? What makes them stand out?
- How many people do you want to help?
- What benefits do you provide? What value do you give? What problem do you solve?
- How do you solve problems? What do you do?
- When will you solve these problems?
- How do you further your vision for the world?
- What makes your company special? What’s your competitive advantage or unique selling point?
- Is there a focus on employees in some way?
3 Business mission statement templates
These are pretty simple, but should get you started. Feel free to add in crucial information if it’s inspiring and meaningful.
Here at X, we [help] [who/ideal customer] do [benefit] so that they can [further benefit] by [what you do].
My business does [what you do] to help [who/ideal customer] do [benefit].
Our mission is to [solve what problem] for [who/ideal customer] by [what you do].
Mission statement generator
This generator is a bit wonky, but fun! Some hints:
- If you can’t figure out how to advance, press enter.
- If you can’t see a list to select from, run your mouse over where the selections should be to highlight them and you’ll see the options.
Here’s a fun one it generated for me (close, but I’ve included mine below): My mission at Hello Kate Smith is helping business-owning moms find more family time. with originality, creativity and ingenuity.
Mission statement mistakes
Here are some mistakes to avoid if you want a mission statement that’s worth having around!
Remember, the mission statement is also used as a tool for communicating with customers. If they don’t know your industry jargon, then they won’t have any idea what you’re saying.
The more concise you make your statement, the more likely it will be both read and understood.
If you don’t feel good after reading a draft of your mission statement, keep working. You have to believe in it for it to do you any good.
Unclear to your mom
If your mom still can’t understand if after you’ve removed all the industry-specific jargon, try again. If she can’t read it, your customers can’t either, and they won’t try as hard as your mom.
Done and forgotten
Once you write your mission statement, post it somewhere. On your wall. On your website. In your journal. Refer to it when you’re making decisions about what your next steps should be.
And, as your business evolves, make adjustments to your statement to reflect your direction. Don’t change it daily, because it’s really one of your long term goals. But adjust it as you scale and grow, and as you hit milestones and need a new goal to aim for.
Examples of business mission statements
Our mission is to help 1,000,000 digital creatives turn their passion into a profitable business.wpelevation.com
My mission is to provide creative solopreneurs with the tools they need to build a digital product based business that supports their ideal lifestyle – without wasting time or money.basilandbark.com
My work is a visual narrative of my connection to the surrounding seascapes and the dynamic evolution that is the natural world.michelleheslop.com
Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.warbyparker.com/history
I help business-owning moms wrap up their work day by 3:00 so they can have more time with their families, through digital product creation and sales.Hellokatesmith.com (I’m always adjusting!)
Work on creating your own business mission statement using the information above. Be sure to post your statement somewhere you can see it and be inspired by it!
If you do your thinking and include the key elements of why, who, and what, you’ll have a business mission statement that inspires you and your customers.
If you need some help with your vision or your mission statement, check out my Done by 3:00 Club Facebook Group, where we have monthly 5-day challenges running through 2021. You can see more about the challenges on the registration page.