How to Write an Awesome Mission Statement
It's an unavoidable reality that a simple Google search
for anything will reveal a wealth of information...
some of which is contradictory.
This is certainly true when turning to Google to research Mission Statements.
One article will tell you that your Mission Statement should evolve with the business, while another tells you to avoid making any changes unless your business adopts a completely different model. One article contradicts itself by suggesting that the process of developing the statement should take place with as many people as possible (preferably employees), then suggesting that you find a quiet place to work alone.
We’ve dug through all the information and put together
the most concise and straightforward method of writing
a concise and straightforward Mission Statement.
A Mission Statement is a brief but informative summary of a company’s overall objective.
- It addresses what that company does, why they do it, and who they do it for.
- It should be concise, meaning no longer than a short paragraph, with 1 to 2 sentences being the ideal length.
- It should be easy for everyone involved in the company to remember and repeat.
- For your customers it should resonate as informative and true.
Sounds pretty easy, right?
The truth is that it can be, if you keep it simple and honest.
But sometimes, something simple has to start with a big ol’ mess.
The typical suggestion for a first step in any project is brainstorming,
and there’s a good reason for that:
Whether brainstorming is approached as an individual or group activity, it’s important to make sure everyone involved throws everything they’ve got on the table (this is where the mess happens). For each question you pose or topic you address, write down all the keywords and phrases you and your team believe apply to your business. As you begin to divide things into Good, Bad, and Maybe categories (this is where the mess starts to get cleaned up), you’ll find that knowing what doesn’t work is as important as knowing what does.
If you’re brainstorming with a team and someone suggests that your language should have a conservative feel and the buzzword for your style should be professional, but you were leaning more toward fun language with an innovative style, then you know you’ve got to get everyone on the same page. It’s worth remembering that your company’s Mission Statement isn’t just for customers and investors; it’s critical to each employee’s understanding of what they’re working for and towards.
Here are some critical brainstorming topics that will need to be addressed:
· The purpose of your business: Who are you, what do you do, and why? Try to turn these into actionable goals that simply and clearly state the what and the why of the product you make, service you provide, process you improve, etc.
· The people who benefit from the purpose of your business: Who are your customers? What is their problem for which you are providing a solution?
· The uniqueness of your purpose: How do you do things in a way that sets you apart from similar businesses in the industry?
· Your company’s personality and style: What traits and characteristics do you believe define your company? Those should be expressed in the language of the statement. As you brainstorm, highlight the words and phrases in each brainstorming topic that you feel best match your company’s personality and style.
Once there’s agreement that your Good category provides a comprehensive, honest, and style-appropriate picture of your company’s purpose, uniqueness, and target customer, press on…
Compiling It All In to One Statement
As you put all of the brainstormed keywords and phrases together into full sentences and paragraphs, focus on what is most critical (this is where the mess starts to become something amazing). Trim out everything that isn’t absolutely relevant in an effort to achieve the 1 – 2 sentence goal.
Here are some critical editing issues that should be addressed:
- Steer away from a statement with a big idealistic vision that isn’t rooted in anything concrete, like “We aim to achieve world piece”. Remember to keep it simple and honest while focusing on the exact purpose of your company and the value provided to your customers.
- Leave out the fluff. Stop with the buzzwords that create the illusion of intelligence and meaning but ultimately express nothing, or at least nothing that anyone can understand. Be direct and use straightforward language. Unless your boss is Jack Donaghy, cause that guy is known for saying things like, “We have to synergize backward overflow.” He’s a jargon lover.
- No bragging or boasting! There are plenty of places to show off awards and other accolades, but your Mission Statement is not one of them, as your mission should not be to win awards.
- No company history. This follows along with no boasting, in that your history is not your mission, so this is not the place to mention it.
- While making sure your statement doesn’t run on too long – no longer than a short paragraph – don’t forget that it needs to be easy to remember, repeat, and showcase.
- Building on the previous suggestions, remember to ensure the language and composition of your statement reflect your company’s personality and style. The simple question here is: How does it sound out loud, and how does it feel to say it?
Refining and Finalizing the Statement
You’re so close!
You should be at the point where you have a statement that you believe works,
and now you need to test it out to be sure.
Here are some critical questions to ask your test audience:
- Does this statement sound honest?
- Is this statement informative?
- Is this statement interesting and compelling enough for you to seek additional information?
- Does this statement match your vision of the company? (This question works for best for employees and customers)
Finally, be honest.
Seriously… I mean it.
Be honest about how accurate your new Mission Statement really is. Honesty is especially important here if you plan on having even one employee utilize your Mission Statement to promote your company. An employee who repeats your Mission Statement without believing it is doing your business no favors. So you’ll need to make sure of two very important things before your Mission Statement “goes live” and starts showing its face all over the place:
- Your Mission Statement must be an honest and realistic depiction of what the company is, and not an idealize representation of what you want the company to be. Don’t claim to be something you’re not, and don’t promise something you can’t provide.
- Everyone representing your company must be able to deliver your Mission Statement with conviction and confidence because they KNOW it to be true… and that can only happen if it is, in fact, true.
Our suggestion regarding revisions to your Mission Statement is pretty simple:
- Review your Mission Statement each year and revise if and when different answers apply to the questions regarding what you do, why you do it, and who you do it for.