When done properly, mission statements can do more than just tell people why your business exists. As any business encounters new phases of growth and the challenges that come with it, a clearly-defined mission can guide decision-making and establish an organizational culture that inspires and motivates employees. By sharing it and improving it over time, a mission can drive company success. Here’s how to get started:
MAKE IT WORTHY OF A PITCH
Your mission needs to be concise, easy, and quick to pitch, so this is no time for an essay. Sum up your goals and the way you intend to pursue them in a few focused sentences. Cut out any extraneous words. Instead of saying you “provide the best customer service possible,” get rid of the possible, because we all know you can only do as much as possible. Think of it as an elevator pitch. You should be able to explain your mission statement quickly, so prioritize the information you need to convey to best represent your company.
For your mission to act as a guide for your company, write a statement with substance and keep the focus on that. No need to clutter it up with abstract vocabulary—keep it clear and easy to understand. Use broad, universal language to appeal to more people. Try to engage the listener emotionally or leave them feeling inspired. Keep it easy to remember or include memorable phrases, but make sure your language will stand the test of time.
GET EVERYONE INVOLVED
Everyone who makes up your company—from employees and management to board members and partners—is a part of your mission, so they all should have a little bit of input into it. Your company mission should be pretty closely aligned with your personal mission, which means every contributing member of your company should have a personal mission that aligns with the company’s. You should involve your partners, board members, and upper management in defining the company mission, but I would even discuss it with all the employees for feedback before the final approval. You never know where you might find a great idea.
Defining your mission through team feedback will help find the right people to join your company as it continues to grow. Existing team members who give input into the company mission trust that their leadership will make decisions that align with team values, including finding new people. When we wrote our company mission statement, we wanted to let investors, employees, and clients know before engaging with us that we planned to take a modern approach to recruiting by leveraging advanced technologies and forging more meaningful business connections. When new people join our team, our mission makes sure that everyone involved knows our expectations and intends to grow toward our goals. Our team is stronger because we all drive the mission together.
DEFINE IT CLEARLY
You might think you know what your mission is, but that’s all just talk until you write it down and make it official. The sooner the better, especially for a startup company. Sit down and make the effort to define your business mission on paper and build it out from there. It may feel like you have no time with more pressing, short-term goals on your mind, but writing your business mission is just as valuable (if not more) as any other given task. Think about your long-term, ultimate mission farther down the line. Go beyond six months or even a year. Dream big.
Once you write your mission down, don’t be scared to change it. Make adjustments as needed. Revisit it frequently. Over time you’ll learn more, think even further into the future, or dream even bigger, so rewrite it every time. Don’t get stuck. Adapt to the changing world. Keep sharing your mission, talk about it as you upgrade it, and get feedback from everyone it represents. Continuing to share and reshape your mission allows you to redefine its structure and make it stronger.
Numbers are good, but a strong mission can unlock success for your business. A mission communicates a company’s values to customers and potential talent while unifying employees around a purpose and giving greater meaning to their work. A mission guides you through obstacles and envisions a successful future that boosts company morale. When done right, a business mission statement can be the start of a flourishing company culture.
Martin Rowinski is the CEO of Boardsi, a Corporate Board Recruitment Company.