A Practical Guide To Developing A Mission Statement For Your Business

In a nutshell, a mission statement is a statement that gives the direction of where your business is aspiring to be. It is a critical statement that should achieve two things:

  • Explain clearly to customers and stakeholders the type of business you do.
  • Motivate and give a sense of shared purpose which will help to create a focus for the efforts of all employees of the business.

Why is a mission statement important?

A mission or vision statement is a signpost that guides a business into the future. It provides a guide and direction to all stakeholders of the business be it customers/consumers, employees, owners, financiers even distributors and suppliers. By defining the destination, it becomes easier to create relevant strategies that can take you there.

What are the ingredients that make a mission statement successful?

The following are the ingredients a good mission statement must have:

  • Give the direction of the future
  • be realistic, and thus believable both by the customers and employees.
  • Should be outward-looking and with a clear customer benefit
  • Should be motivating, by embodying the challenge and rewards.

Creating a mission statement is the start point of defining and laying the road map for your business and how you intend to get there. Below are four great questions to ask yourself:

  • What is your business about?
  • What are your desires for the business?
  • What are the keywords that most suitably describe your product and service?
  • What is the best way to express your mission?
  1. What is your business about?

This question may seem obvious, but don’t be surprised that it will be one of the most frequent and difficult questions you will encounter. For example, a hotel business may be providing one of the following services:

  • Providing food and accommodation
  • Providing holidays
  • Providing leisure breaks
  • Providing facilities for training events
  • Enhancing personal well-being

Some businesses define what they do in terms of their product or service.  However, it is better that you focus on the need of the customer that your product and service will meet than on the product itself. This will keep your focus on the customer because your business was created to meet their needs in the first place.

  1. What are your desires for your business?

 The desires you have for your business can be:

  • In terms of finances for example, ‘the business will double profit every three years’
  • In terms of market for example, ‘the business will lead the market’

However, neither of these is really customer-driven or motivational. You may find it difficult to motivate your employees or create a sense of purpose in their hearts. Preferably, your aspirations should be directed at the customer segment you intend to serve, the needs you intend to meet or the method and approach you intend to take.

A hotel’s desire could be to ‘’provide such a relaxing stay that our guests will want to return’’. This has narrowed the focus of the customer benefit to (relaxation) and, thus, the group of customer to be targeted. It would set the hotel apart from other ones that is targeting, say, visitors looking for a family holiday or a fully equipped venue for a business activity weekend.

  1. What keywords describe how the product or service will be delivered?

The words you use in your mission statement should relate to the customer in a language they would recognize, understand and value. In the example above, we have used the words ‘relaxing’ (recognizable as a benefit) and ‘visitors’ (rather than customers or clients). In developing your mission statement, consider how such words will add vitality and meaning to your vision of the future.

  1. What is the best way to express your mission?

Now you are ready to create a number of possible mission statements using the thoughts you have gathered in answering the previous three questions. Here is an approach designed to get you underway if you are not sure where to start.

  • Start off with the words ‘We are in the business of …’
  • Describe the type(s) of customers to be served
  • Describe the need you are meeting
  • Describe how you are meeting the need

For example,

‘We specialize in rejuvenating (benefit to the customer) fatigued and tired people (customer group) by giving them a relaxing stay in a conducive environment with healthy food and exercise (the service you are offering).’

The above is an example of a mission statement with all necessary information. However, adjustments can still be made where necessary. Check all the statements you come up with to ensure they all contain the below information:

  • It provides a direction of the future
  • It is credible to all stakeholders
  • It is inside-out and clearly states the benefit to the customer
  • It embodies what your business is about

Actions

Once you’re satisfied with the mission statement you come up with, share it with the world. Each time it is mentioned, you are reminded of your commitment to its fulfillment. Below are tips to remember:

  • The mission statement should be communicated at all times across the organisation and followed with actions.
  • Whatever will compromise the mission statement should be avoided at all cost.
  • Business growth should be measured in line with the values and direction the organisation is headed as stated in the mission statement.

 

Christiana Aina
christiana@simon-page.com
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