How a mission statement helps your small business

A friend of mine who used to work for a very large IT company would go on a rant anytime you mentioned company mission statement. The mission statement, he would expound, was nothing more than a company’s feel-good initiative designed to conceal a glaring lack of purpose.  However tongue-in-cheek my friend’s comment was – and it was – there is something about corporate mission statements that stir people up positively and negatively.

That however is the point. A mission statement, which I believe every business needs, should evoke emotion, but ideally on the positive side.  That’s because it should serve as guide for your small business in a number of very important ways. A recent Time magazine article on Why You Need a Mission Statement encapsulated the reasons why you need a mission statement:

  • Helps your business focus
  • Provides a framework to evaluate opportunities and decide if they fit with your strategy and model
  • Defines your business and establishes your brand
  • Helps your employees focus their efforts when it comes to suggesting ideas that fit with your goals and purpose

Woman with hands toward skySteps to create a mission statement

Involve others: Bring in key members of your team or someone from outside your company who is closely aligned.

Set aside sufficient time: You may need as much as a whole day to work on your mission statement, even though it’s short.  Remember this is the statement about why you exist and what you hope to accomplish. Finding the right words will take time.

Ask yourself several questions: Your session will involve asking and answering a series of questions.

  • What does your business do and who do you do it for?
  • What guides the way you work with customers or clients?
  • What is the image of your company that you want to project?
  • How is your business different from the competition?
  • What technologies, operations and processes do you employ?
  • What philosophies or values guide your business?
  • What are you hoping to achieve in your industry?

Be open to ideas: Look at other company mission statements to keep the wheels moving. Consider everyone’s ideas. It’s a good idea to put all the ideas on a whiteboard or flipchart and let everyone take a pass at coming up with a statement.

Keep it short:  Your final mission statement should only be a few sentences but it should be specific. Also use language that motivates.

Your mission statement also reflects your culture so expect that it will evolve over time

Is there a corporate mission statement you particularly like? What is the company and what is the statement?

 

About Judi Hembrough

Judi leads Americas Marketing strategy and go-to-market programs for the Small and Medium Business (SMB) customer segment at Plantronics. Judi has been a marketing director at Plantronics for 10 years in various roles focused on Strategic Alliances Marketing, SMB and Home & Home Office solutions. Prior to Plantronics, Judi was President of William-Christie Associates, Inc. -- a management consulting practice, for 10 years where she guided numerous companies such as Palm, Intuit, CBS MarketWatch and HID, in driving new initiatives.