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Mission Statement: What it is and isn’t

7 mins read

This article explains what a company’s mission statement is and also what it isn’t, along with examples of each.

Why does your business exist? This is an extremely broad question that is very important. As business owners we need to be able to answer this question to help guide our decisions. Our employees need to be able to confidently answer this question to promote our business externally while also motivating them to align with the company internally. The answer to this question can be found in a company’s Mission Statement. So, what is a mission statement? What isn’t a mission statement? We have answered both questions and provided examples to help clarify exactly what a BIG mission statement is.

What is a Mission Statement?

Your mission statement is a clear, concise sentence stating why your company exists, and what your overall goal is. This usually includes the kind of products or services you offer, who your consumers are or what your market is, and the problem your products or services offer a solution to. Your mission should have a precise statement of purpose that gets people excited about what you do and motivates them to become part of your organization. Really, your mission statement should do just that; make a statement. While there are some lengthy mission statements out there, it is recommended to keep your mission to 1 or 2 sentences. If you give a description of your company that is too extensive or complicated readers may get lost in the message as they read.

Here are two examples of strong mission statements:

Tesla

“To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

This mission statement answers the questions of:

Products/Services – Sustainable energy

Who – The world, the people using energy within the world (everyone!)

Problem they are offering a solution to: The world’s transition to sustainable energy

This is a very strong mission statement because it answers the important questions that a mission statement should, while also leaving the reader interested in what they are doing. This mission statement may not clearly say exactly what products or services they are offering, but we know that they involve sustainable energy, and it leaves you wanting more information. From this mission statement alone, we may now want to search up Tesla and find out more about them; it has us excited which means Tesla has accomplished the main goal of a mission statement.

Starbucks

“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.”

This mission statement answers the questions of:

Products/Services – A cup of something that sounds good

Who – People, neighbourhoods (community)

Problem they are offering a solution to: Inspiring and nurturing the human spirit

This mission statement also achieves the main purpose of a mission while also capturing the interest of the reader. If you had no idea what Starbucks did for products/services, you may not know what exactly they are offering a cup of after reading this statement, however the way they’ve worded it sure makes you want to know!

What isn’t a Mission Statement?

A mission statement is not as simple as writing out some sentences that describe your business. As explained previously, your company mission statement has a clear purpose of telling consumers and employees what you do, who you do it for, and what problem you are offering a solution to (why you’re doing what you do).

A mission statement is not:

    • Just for potential customers
    • Just for your employees
    • Too broad or lofty
    • A full-page description of your business
    • Your company story
    • A Vision Statement
    • Your company Motto
    • Something to forget after writing – it should be promoted to everyone in the organization for alignment, and should also be reinforced regularly

Here are 2 examples of mission statements that do not fulfill their purpose:

“We want to make the world a better place.”

Here is what this mission statement is missing:

Products/Services – We have no idea what they are offering.

Who – The world, however it makes it seem like they mean the planet earth in general, not the people within it as they don’t explain who or what within the world.

Problem they are offering a solution to: We have no idea the solution they are offering or the problem they are trying to solve, just that they would like to make the world a better place

“We want to give our customers good service and a great price.”

Here is what this mission statement is missing:

Products/Services – We have no idea what service they are offering.

Who – Their customers, however we do not know who the customers they are looking for are.

Problem they are offering a solution to: Good service and a great price, however we do not know what for. Good service is also vague and without defining factors makes the mission statement unmemorable.

Is Your Mission Creating a Statement?

You now have more information about what exactly a mission statement is, and what exactly a mission statement isn’t. If you have to create a mission statement for you company, we hope that this article has provided you some valuable insight into what your mission statement should accomplish. If your company already has a mission created, then we challenge you to ask yourself the following question: “Is our company’s mission creating a statement?”

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