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2021-06-29 14:33:26Starting a New BusinessEnglishA business plan defines how you’re going to run your business, but a mission statement helps you define why. Here’s how to write a...https://quickbooks.intuit.com/au/resources/au_qrc/uploads/2021/06/mission-statement-header.jpghttps://quickbooks.intuit.com/au/resources/starting-a-new-business/how-to-write-a-great-mission-statement/How to write a great mission statement

How to write a great mission statement

7 min read

Just because your business is small doesn’t mean it doesn’t have big dreams. Starting your own small business requires taking risks, working long hours and, most likely, making some personal and financial sacrifices.

Most entrepreneurs wouldn’t take the risks without having some kind of passion, core values or beliefs about improving the world or their community. Oftentimes, it’s the passion, values and beliefs that drive them to build their startup—whether it’s creating an app to help families stay connected long distance or making the world’s most sustainably made vegan pizza.

A business plan defines how you’re going to run your business (yes, that’s also important), but a mission statement helps you define that passion and purpose.

What is a good mission statement?

A company’s mission statement captures its purpose and trumpets it to the world. It’s a short statement that articulates the “why” and “how” of the business.

There’s a lot riding on the mission statement. An effective mission statement is a powerful tool for guiding efficient decision making, creating a company culture, attracting and keeping employees and customers, informing your marketing and advertising messages, and helping you build a strong brand.

This should serve as your “guiding star”, keeping everyone in your company together and working towards the same goal. With a clear view of your mission, you can develop scalable, repeatable operating processes that enable your business to grow in a more or less orderly fashion. Without it, you’re likely to experience communication breakdowns, inconsistent delivery of your products and services, and chaos as you try to grow.

Building a high-quality mission statement

Companies sometimes pair mission and vision statements. Technically, these are two different ideas—a mission statement defines the business’s objectives and how it will achieve them, while a vision statement speaks to the future state of the business, and perhaps even the world. However, some companies combine their mission and their vision into a single statement.

There is no one right way to do it. So, before we get started on creating your mission statement, we suggest reviewing some mission statement examples. Start with big-name brands like Amazon, Patagonia and Coca-Cola. Then check out the brands you expect to compete with so you can get some inspiration on how to write your mission statement. If you’re feeling lost, it’s OK to use a mission statement template to help you get started!

Some brands choose to focus their mission statement on how their company impacts the world, while others stick closer to defining what the company does and how it benefits its customers. One thing to keep in mind is that in a larger company, a mission and vision exercise will typically involve dozens of people and outside agencies to ideate, draft and polish different versions of the statement or statements until all of the stakeholders are aligned. What you see is the winning, world-class version. No doubt there were other unchosen versions that some people liked better.

The point is, don’t get hung up on perfection. Your mission statement will be unique—just like your company.

How to write a mission statement

The exercise of creating a mission statement can be a powerful one. It’s sure to result in deep thinking and debate about the company, values, direction and vision for the future. If you plan to make this decision with a business partner or team, it’s a good idea to lay out a process ahead of time to ensure that everything is engaged and the debate is constructive.

Decide on a process

The first thing you’ll need to decide is who should be involved. Is it just you running the show? You and the co-owner? A few key team leaders and employees?

While you will probably not want to involve every person in the company, everyone on your leadership team should participate in the exercise and ideally, align on the outcome. You might also want to include customers, board members, advisors and, perhaps, some key team members. To get the best result, it’s wise to include a diverse group of people that will have different perspectives on the company.

After you get the group together, decide how you’d like them to be involved. Maybe you want to send out a questionnaire to a wide range of people, compile the answers and then present them to a smaller group that will work together to draft the statement. Or maybe you’d like to have a writer take down the answers and create some drafts for debate before you meet.

Set aside some dedicated time for group discussion, but don’t leave it open ended. Define a process and an outcome. For example, we will block out three hours to brainstorm and draft some options, then we will vote for one. Or, we will vote on our top three drafts and test them on a defined group of stakeholders, collect feedback and reconvene for a final vote. Appoint a moderator or facilitator to keep the group on track.

If you are a very small company, maybe all you need are three people in a room for a couple of hours. For a mid-size company with several stakeholders, you may need to use some strategic planning, or even bring in an outside firm to make sure all points of view are included.

The anatomy of a mission statement

So, what are the ingredients of a solid mission statement and what makes it stand out? Here is a breakdown of the three basic elements:

1. Your company’s purpose

This should go beyond simply stating what you do. Think of the benefit and impact of what you do. Is your purpose to connect people, to make life easier, or to improve productivity? What want or need do you fulfil for your customers?

2. Describe how you do it

How you do what you do is part of what makes your business unique. That could include sustainable sourcing, a commitment to diversity, working through partnerships, extra convenience, cost-effectiveness or serious dedication to customer service.

3. Who you do it for

Who are your current and desired customers? Are they athletes? Busy moms? Pet owners? Making sure your mission statement identifies your customers helps your customers identify with your mission.

Making it resonate

Once you have gained clarity on the three basic elements, it’s time to make it sing. There are three keys to doing this:

1. Keep it short

Less is more. The ideal length of a mission statement is two to four sentences, and no more than 100 words. Remember: this is a central tenet to your business. It’s something you want employees to think about every day. It should be easy for them to keep top of mind without having to open their employee handbook and read a paragraph or two to refresh their memory. It should be easy for customers to grasp and remember, as well.

2. Keep it simple

Don’t make people have to think, piece things together or have to Google a word. (They probably won’t.)

3. Make it engaging

Smart copywriters make their writing compelling by using powerful verbs to trigger certain emotional responses. Think: “empower” vs “enable”; “challenge” vs “question”; “discover” vs “find”.

There are heaps of “power word” lists available on the internet, sorted by the type of emotion they are known to elicit. Simply search for “copywriting power words” and note a couple of your favourites to have on hand while you’re doing your writing exercise. Play around with different buzzwords and see how they change the feeling of your mission statement.

Your mission statement in action

A well-crafted mission statement that resonates with your employees, customers and partners is a valuable asset to your business. Work to incorporate it in as many places as you can—on your website, on social media and LinkedIn, and in your advertising. Internally it should be prominently featured for employees to see and absorb on a regular basis.

While it should not change often, the world is always evolving, and your business may evolve with it. If you are using it as your guiding star every day, you may eventually notice that it is losing its resonance and needs to be reworked. If you get to that point, congratulations! Your mission statement has probably served you well and carried you far. Now go and write another.

This content is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal, accounting or tax advice, or a substitute for obtaining such advice specific to your business. Additional information and exceptions may apply. Applicable laws may vary by state/territory or locality. No assurance is given that the information is comprehensive in its coverage or that it is suitable in dealing with a customer’s particular situation. Intuit Inc does not have any responsibility for updating or revising any information presented herein. Accordingly, the information provided should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research. Intuit Inc does not warrant that the material contained herein will continue to be accurate nor that it is completely free of errors when published. Readers should verify statements before relying on them.

We provide third-party links as a convenience and for informational purposes only. Intuit does not endorse or approve these products and services, or the opinions of these corporations, organisations or individuals. Intuit accepts no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of these sites.

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Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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