An authentic mission statement can help business owners on several fronts. It helps focus business efforts on the right behaviors and goals while also attracting and keeping the right employees. A great mission statement also represents your business to the public, helping your target customers understand not only what you do but how and why you do it.
What Is a Mission Statement?
A company’s mission statement explains the purpose it serves for customers. In simple language, it explains not only what your company does, but also why and how. When you land on the right wording for your mission statement, it will inspire and nurture your employees, unifying them around a single purpose. It can also spread ideas among potential customers about why your company exists and how it could impact their lives, strengthening your brand identity.
Think about the companies you choose over and over as a customer. Why do you continue to shop with them or use their services? It’s likely that their mission statements guide their employees to deliver the experiences and products you enjoy. Visit their websites to see whether their mission statements align with your experience.
How to Write a Mission Statement
If you need to write a mission statement for your company, there’s good news: It can be a simple, four-step process. While crafting mission statements sounds like an easy process, make sure to give it some real thought. What separates a good mission statement from a great mission statement is clarity and brevity. Everyone should be able to read it quickly and understand it easily.
Wondering how to write a mission statement? It starts with three main questions: What, how and why. Before you delve into the answers, keep in mind that the best mission statements are short and written in a clear style.
Step 1: What Does Your Company Do?
Write down what your company does. Start by identifying your main product or service — whatever you produce, sell and/or provide to customers. Try writing it in several ways. Choose the clearest description and consider how you can make it even shorter or clearer. Test it out on a few employees to see if they agree.
Make and sell body scrubs and lotions
Provide social media advertising strategy for small businesses
Help parents and guardians hire babysitters
Step 2: How Does Your Company Do It?
Explain how you do what you do. While the answer may feel complicated, try to keep the language as simple as possible. Rather than detailing day-to-day operations, consider whether there’s something about your process that’s unique, that matters to your customers or that otherwise differentiates your company. It may be helpful to consider your core values while working on this step.
Handmade in small batches with all-natural ingredients
Understanding client goals and identifying their customers’ demographics and behavior
Keeping a database of background-checked babysitters, their experience and their availability
Step 3: Why Does Your Company Do It?
Consider why you do what you do. It may help to remember why you started your business in the first place (beyond making money). What need did you want to serve? This is potentially the most impactful part of your company’s mission statement. It should resonate with your customers and may even be the reason they choose to support your business over competitors. Perhaps your customers are a specific niche that fit into why you do what you do. Once again, write down a few short statements and ask your employees for ideas and feedback. They may even experience an “aha moment” about why they come to work every day.
To support sustainable, healthy self-care
To help small businesses compete with big businesses
To help parents keep their children in safe hands
Step 4: Bring It All Together
Now link all of your statements together. Keep in mind that mission statements are better when they’re short. If yours is longer than a brief paragraph, look for ways to shorten it. Sometimes even a sentence or two may do it, so cut out any extra fluff. Once you have what you consider to be the best version of your mission statement, consider whether there are better or simpler ways to phrase the words. You may even ask a copywriter to jazz it up.
For instance, “We make and sell body scrubs by hand and in small batches with all-natural ingredients so our customers can practice sustainable, healthy self-care,” could become: “We hand make our products in small batches with all-natural ingredients to empower earth-friendly self care.” Some companies like to flip their mission statement by starting with their why. In this case, it might read: “We empower earth-friendly self care by hand making our products in small batches with all-natural ingredients.”
Once you have a powerful, authentic mission statement, share it with your employees, your customers and the public. Place it in a highly visible place on your website and consider other places that might boost awareness and understanding, like social media cover photos or customer swag.
Mission Statement Examples
If you’re stuck or looking for some inspiration before you get started, it may be helpful to read through these succinct mission statement examples from prominent brands:
Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
Walmart: We save people money so they can live better.
The Hartford: Underwriting human achievement.
Prezi: To reinvent how people share knowledge, tell stories, and inspire their audiences to act.
Warby Parker: To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.
Patagonia: We’re in business to save our planet.
Benefits of Having a Mission Statement
We’ve mentioned some of the benefits a company can enjoy by crafting a mission statement — ones related to internal culture, focus and customer recognition — but it doesn’t end there. Here are a few more advantages to presenting a company mission statement:
It can guide business planning. Most instructions for how to write a business plan include an executive summary, a high-level explanation of your company — what it does, its goals and how it will achieve them. This portion should be a quick read, so your mission statement is a perfect way to kick it off.
It solidifies your company’s commitment to its purpose and clarifies this purpose for all stakeholders, from customers and employees to investors and the public.
It keeps you, your company leaders and its employees on track to set the right goals and take the right paths forward.
It can strengthen your brand, furthering any small business branding goals.
Mission Statements vs. Vision Statements
If you’re also crafting a vision statement, you may want to understand the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement. One simple way to think about it is: Mission statements focus on your company’s present operations, while vision statements focus on its future path and impact.
A mission statement is descriptive. It explains your company’s current purpose through some combination of what you do, how you do it, why you do it and for whom.
A vision statement speaks to how your company wants to affect the future. Often it extends past current and even future customers to encompass a wider community or even to change an industry.
Think of your mission statement as the blueprints for achieving your vision statement. Both statements can be instrumental in inspiring employees, converting leads and building loyal customer relationships.
Next Steps: Want to learn more? Sign up for the Small Biz Ahead newsletter to receive a weekly roundup of the latest tools, trends, and resources.