Fortune 500 companies, and even little mom and pop shops, compose mission statements to express what their organization does. Once completed, it enables organizations to make decisions that will help them accomplish their vision while also standing as a good measure of company success. For example,Universal Accounting Center’s mission statement is “to equip students with the education, skills and confidence needed to enjoy a successful career in full-charge accounting, bookkeeping and tax.” UAC uses this mission statement to measure their success; when their students succeed (“equip[ing] students…to enjoy a successful career”…), so do they.
Like any organization, you would like to see your business succeed. A clear mission statement can help you express what you would like your business to accomplish, enabling you to make decisions that will get you there and measure your success once you do.
What is a Mission Statement?
A mission statement is a succinct and concise statement (generally 1-3 sentences long) that tells what you do, why you do it, and what you stand for. Bplans.com describes the mission statement as “a cross between a slogan and an executive summary” that can be shared in less than 30 seconds. Think of it as a condensed infomercial about your business.
Here are just a few one-line samples shared by the Center for Business Planning:
- 3M – “To solve unsolved problems innovatively.”
- Mary Kay Cosmetics – “To give unlimited opportunity to women.”
- Merck — “To preserve and improve human life.”
- Wal-Mart — “To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same thing as rich people.”
- Walt Disney — “To make people happy.”
To get a better idea of what they would like to include, business owners generally write a list of their business values before writing the actual mission statement. Articulating your values will help you better understand what you represent and ultimately want to achieve.
Examples of values could include:
- Honesty and integrity
- Open communication with clients and employees
- Well-balanced attention to both work and family
- Respect for all business associates
Once you determine what you value, you can determine which values deserve recognition in your mission statement.
You should also consider how ambitious you want your mission statement to be. Many businesses choose a mission statement that represents their current standing while others use their mission statements to aspire to grander things. Consider the following (also included on the Center for Business Planning website):
- Ford Motor Company (early 1900’s) — “Ford will democratize the automobile”
- Sony (early 1950’s) — “Become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products”
- Boeing (1950) — “Become the dominant player in commercial aircraft and bring the world into the jet age”
- Wal-Mart (1990) — “Become a $125 billion company by the year 2000”
You can see how these mission statements served a dual-purpose, acting as both mission statements and long-range goals, giving these businesses something concrete to work towards.
It is important that your mission statement be specific and represent a standard against which you can measure your business’s progress. To accomplish that, consider including your target market, your competitive edge, a description of your services, and the brand you want to convey. And most importantly, be sure it resonates with you and is a genuine representation of your business.
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Berry, Tim. “Writing a Mission Statement.” Bplans.com
–. “Mission Statement.” Center for Business Planning