Go into any place of business: office building, restaurant, doctor’s office and most likely you will see a mission statement written somewhere. Maybe it’s on a frame hanging behind the cash register, or maybe it’s engraved into a plaque by the front door, or maybe it’s even typed out on the back of employee t-shirts.
It’s easy to think that the mission statement is just an aspect of a company’s marketing campaign, used to lure customers in. And though many companies do include their mission statements throughout their marketing strategy, the mission statement actually has much more important uses for a business than as a means to decorate the front lobby.
Writing a mission statement should be one of the first things you do as a business. However, if you haven’t done one yet, it’s never too late to write one.
A little perplexed about this whole mission statement thing? Here are 4 common questions answered:
1. What is a mission statement?
Simply put, the mission statement answers the question, “why does this company exist?” A vision statement, on the other hand, gives an idea of where the company hopes to be in the future.
2. Why have a mission statement?
For focus and direction…
Mission statements give the business focus and direction. A mission statement is a little bit like a company’s map—it helps the business get to where it wants to go. This focus and direction can occur on both micro and macro levels. Meaning that the mission statement can direct day-to-day decisions such as how to respond to customer questions while also providing guidance when it comes to longer term business planning.
As one blog post for Small Business BC points out, the mission statement allows you to say, “no.” If a new opportunity arises for your company, but it isn’t in line with your mission, you can say no. You don’t have to take the opportunity just because it’s there. Especially as a business that is just starting, you do not want to spread yourself too thin. The mission statement can help you stay on track.
Not only do mission statements keep the company as a whole focused, they keep employees all on the same page. The team works more cohesively, and as a result, more effectively.
For an investment pitch deck…
Most start-ups need investors. Whether these investors are family members, angel investors, banks etc…. it’s important to be as prepared as possibly when pitching an idea and asking for funds. Among other things, a quality investment pitch deck will include the company’s mission and vision statement. Richard Harroch explains, “Think of this…as your 15-second compelling elevator pitch.”
For marketing purposes…
The mission statement has a natural place in a business’s marketing strategy. Mission statements can be used on social media accounts, on websites, in emails, on signs etc…. The mission statements helps customers or potential customers learn what sets you apart from similar companies and what your values are. Both of which can help to draw people in and promote customer loyalty.
3. But, I’m self-employed/my company is so small, do I still need one?
You may be saying to yourself: My business is so young and small that I haven’t even ordered business cards yet—why would I need a mission statement?
Well, think back to what a mission statement is. It states your reason for existence. That sounds pretty important right? Maybe even more important than business cards? No matter what the size of your company, it can benefit from a good mission statement.
Glen Allsopp, formerly a social media manager for a few large companies but now self employed, actually lists creating a mission statement as one of his first pieces of advice for self-employment. Though he does point out, “This isn’t an elevator pitch you need to tell anyone, or a mission statement you need to share. Instead, the aim of these sentences is to help you stay on track.”
4. Where do I begin?
Google “how to write a mission statement” and your search engine feed will be flooded. But, you don’t just want to write a mission statement; you want to write a good mission statement.
Vague mission statements aren’t just bad for customers; they are also bad for employees. How can a team be on the same page if no one can really understand the goal?
Your mission statement should include: what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and whom you do it for. Business planning expert Tim Berry offers up the following mission statement test: “If you can’t tell your mission statement from any other, if nobody could guess that it’s you, then you have work to do.” (https://articles.bplans.com/mission-mantra-vision-goals-etc/)
Need some more help?
Check out some of these great mission statement examples…
Mission statements are an important element to any business or start up, but they aren’t all you need for success. Please contact us at Lucid Advisory and Finance for your accounting questions and needs!