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Most people write a mission statement with the hope that they will impress the outside world. A mission statement, however, is not by definition a marketing tool as much as it is a definition of who you are as a company.
A mission statement should be a motivational and inspirational tool for yourself, your employees and those who will be working closely with your organization. A great mission statement is one that you will be able to visit and revisit when creating other items: your positioning statements, your marketing statements, when you’re evaluating your goals, and even planning your organizational future.
Mission statements should be short, clear and, most importantly, specific. You can’t go to a bank and get a loan simply by telling them you’re worth the risk because you plan to change the world. Likewise, you can’t attract the best talent and motivate them to move as a solitary unit toward a goal that is vague enough to be interpreted 10 different ways. Along with being specific, your mission statement needs to reflect your true goals. If you are a new company and your major focus is short-term goals, it’s okay for your mission statement to reflect that. Be brave, be bold and be AUTHENTIC. A mission statement is not a static thing that must stay with you throughout your company’s lifespan. It can and should change along with your goals.
Before you begin to formulate your mission statement, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.
Q1 – Who are you writing your mission statement for? Define your audiences. Is it yourself, your employees, your stakeholders, or your partners who will be working closely with your company? Think hard about this and write down your answers.
Q2 – A mission statement needs to be clear, specific and inspirational, while also reflecting your value as an organization. What are some of the ways you think you can accomplish this in just two or three sentences?
Here are some suggestions for answering this question: avoid technical jargon, flowery words, industry speak, etc. Choose between long- and short-term goals. What other ways can you think of to ensure clarity and specificity?
Q3 – A mission statement, like most official communications, should be edited. Who do you think you should receive feedback from before making your mission statement official? Employees? Your mentor? Make a list of people who will offer honest and insightful feedback.
Q4 – Aside from a good edit and great feedback, what other value do you hope to get from sharing your mission statement with employees, etc.? I personally find that obtaining feedback ensures everyone is on the same page with the MS, thus making people feel more committed, inspired and empowered, as they will have had their say. Know what you’re looking for before you send out your requests for review and edits.