Why Even Entrepreneurs Need One Of These…

By Nacie Carson
22 Comments

When you hear the term “Mission Statement“, what comes to mind?

For many of us, Mission Statements are synonymous with corporate entities and impersonal HR departments (did someone say TPS reports?).

Yet Mission Statements aren’t just for the Kodaks and Coca Colas of the world – they can be effective tools for entrepreneurs to not only keep their focus and drive, but also lead the development of a cohesive entrepreneurial brand.

Understanding The Mission

Mission Statements are meant to inform, inspire, and justify. In just a few sentences, they can tell a suspect, prospect, or loyal customer volumes about an organization’s personality and standards.

At their most basic, most mission statements are made up of a combination of three key elements: Purpose, People, and Passion.

Purpose: What an organization does
People: Who an organization serves
Passion: Why an organization exists

Mission Statements are used internally at organizations to share a message with associates and customers, as well as provide a touchstone and reference point for the brand identity. In good times, the Mission Statement becomes a victory call, a celebration of how success was won. In lean times, the Mission Statement can serve as a guide for winning new business and maintaining a cohesive brand identity while trying different strategies.

At their best, Mission Statements can lead an organization to that next level of esteem among both internal and external customers. It becomes something that people want to be associated with and thus attracts top talent and top tier clients. At their worst, Mission Statements sound like pretentious, corporate BS that just evoke images of “suits”.

Let’s take a look at two great, but different, Mission Statements: Dell and Twitter. First, let us look at the Mission Statement of Dell Computers. On their website, Dell states that:

“[our] mission is to be the most successful computer company in the world at delivering the best customer experience in the markets we serve.”

This Mission Statement contains all three basic elements and sends a clear message to both the consumer and employee about what Dell is all about and where the bar for success is set. No matter what your thoughts on Dell (some love their products, others not so much…), you are likely inspired by the positive and uncompromising language used in this statement: “most successful,” “in the world,” “the best,” “customer experience”, to visit their website, consider one of their products, or start talking about the company to a friend.

Twitter just released a similarly effective yet different Mission Statement:

“We want to instantly connect people everywhere to what is most important to them.”

There is less specifics in this Mission Statement – if you’re reading it without knowing the company it’s attached to, you would have no idea how they would be connecting people, for example – however, it still mixes elements of Purpose, People, and Passion into a clear and powerful message.

I don’t know about you, but both of these Mission Statements make me want to think about doing business with these companies. They showcase an element of vision, thought, and aspirations that inspire action on my end to associate myself with these brands, whether that action is through a business partnership or purchasing of products and services.

The ability to inspire such actions in others is key to an entrepreneur’s success, which is why a Mission Statement isn’t just for corporations.

The Entrepreneur’s Mission

Let’s consider the three elements of a Mission Statement again, although this time let’s do so through the lens of an entrepreneur:

Purpose: What an entrepreneur does
People: Who an entrepreneur serves
Passion: Why an entrepreneur does what they do

When you think about your own entrepreneurial endeavors, can you speak to each of these elements – what you do, who you do it for, and why you do it?

If you can’t, I’m willing to bet you are struggling getting that product off the ground or building your client base. Just think about it – would you spend money on a product or service that didn’t have its “what,” “who,” and “why” figured out?

Probably not. What is compelling your market to buy without these specifics?

The truth about Mission Statements is that, at their core, they are just dressier versions of basic brand value propositions. “What are you offering, and why should I care?”

Mission Statements are especially valuable for entrepreneurs who have multiple projects and want to create a cohesive brand among them. Think about Tim Ferriss – he published a career book and a fitness book, two totally unique endeavors, and successfully marketed them under one, common Mission Statement: work smart – not hard – for maximum results.

Building A Results-Focused Mission

When thinking about your own entrepreneur’s Mission Statement, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Finally: listen to your intuition, not your sales brain. Building a results-focused Mission Statement isn’t about writing the perfect hard sale, it’s about capturing an intangible element in those around you and within yourself. You want it to be a meaningful document you can be proud of, not just another piece of short-form sales copy.

Have you established an entrepreneur’s Mission Statement? How has it helped the growth and development of your business and brand?

Here’s to your Entrepreneur’s Journey,

Nacie

About Nacie Carson

Nacie Carson is a freelance writer and founder of The Life Uncommon, a career evolution and entrepreneurship community.
Her work on careers and authenticity have been featured in over 200 media outlets, including Portfolio.com, WalletPop, and two editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Nacie's first book on career "fitness" will be in stores in April 2012. You can contact her via nacie(@)TheLifeUncommon.Net

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22 Comments

  • Alright, looks like I’ll make a mission statement.
    That sounds like a good idea.
    Cheers,

    Will

    • Hi Will – thanks for commenting! I say give it a try…I’ve been working on crafting and refining a misison statement for my own entrepreneurial brand over the last 6 months or so (it’s a process!) and have found that the more clear I make the Mission, the more focused and productive my work becomes. Would love to hear how it goes for you!

      Nacie

  • Loved this article! I’ve been thinking about rewriting my about section on my website for the longest time now. It’s so cheesy! I don’t like it. And this DEFINITELY helps! Thanks! :)

    • Thanks Jaimie – glad you found this valuable! It is amazing how many of us don’t think to write these kind of documents, and how powerful they can be. Best of luck with your About page – I’d be happy to give some feedback on your content there if you’d like a fresh set of eyes! Just drop me a line via the contact form on my site.

      Good luck!

      Nacie

  • Thanks for the tips Nacie. I’ve been thinking of doing a mission and vision statement. You’ve made it easier for me to come up with one. I’ll prepare mine today :)

    • Best of luck, Chen – remember, authenticity and clairty and the most important elements!

  • It is so easy to complicate your message when your “about” page is 2000 words – nice piece encouraging people to focus on delivering a concise mission statement.

    • You’re absolutely right – concise is key! I think if you want to have a longer About Page, it is important to at least start off with the Mission Statement and then elaborate. Thanks for commenting!

  • I guess mission statement for an entrepreneur would be condensed message of what do you want to accomplish by doing what you do. Mission statement should be somewhat close to a branding slogan but for yourself not for your individual projects, right?

    • Hey Dmitry – thanks for leaving a comment! I’d say your analysis is pretty close to how I see an entrepreneur’s mission statement…a kind of overarching branding slogan for all your work. I find it especially helpful as someon who has a range of projects I’m working on for tying them all together into a cohesive body of work, both in the eyes of my associates and for myself. Do you have one?

  • I like what Guy Kawasaki says about having a mantra it is like a mission statement but a bit shorter a single line explaining your purpose. Also mission statement generator sites are quite fun http://www.isms.org.uk/mission%20statement.htm

    • Hi Phil – thanks for sharing the MIssion Statement generator site – Steven Covey’s organization offers a great one as well. They are good places to start if you are feeling a little lost in the process, but I’d encourage anyone to only use them as a guide and then rework whatever the generator inspires into their own words.

  • Awesome post Nacie… It is a great read and a very good source of information… Love the idea you are sharing… Thank you so much for the post…

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Treb – thanks for commenting!

  • Great insight! Mission statements should not be taken for granted. This may just be a simple statement, yet very effective. It keeps you reminded to stay focused on your goals and keeping you on the right track. Thanks you for this post Nacie!

    • You got it, John – Mission Statements can be north stars in the potentially aimless-work of an entrepreneur. I think they help to turn whatever you’re doing in a Body of Work…which is a powerful concept, for me at least. When I do a new project, I’m not just findinga new way to make money…I’m adding another piece to my Body of Work.

  • I never looked at it that way. Thanks for the incite, too bad it will mean working over this holiday weekend. But the harder you work the more fun it id to let loose when you don’t have too.

  • I think i should start doing a mission statement. I’ve been blogging for 5 months and just going with the flow.

  • Nacie,

    I usually meet clients face to face everyday and one thing I have realized about a company’s mission and purpose is that it should always be congruent with your own personality and values as well.

    I am in sales and I don’t just like selling but I love the process of guiding and helping clients with their Direct Marketing…..After I was aware of my personal values I started making adjustments to the company website and added more content. I made sure that the company website paralleled with my own values. Business is all about being authentic:)…

    A great company that has a great mission is Zappos..They focus fully on their customers and delivering maximum happiness.

    Thanks for the helpful post..

    Cheers,
    Nabil

  • Great Article Nacie , It really motivated me to make my own mission statement thanks for giving us these great information!

  • Very true, you need to have a good business plan in place, and goal. If you are having these then you are on the right track to success.

  • A good mission statement, if adhered to, acts like a sub-concious goal. If you have no direction you are likely to end up where you’re headed.

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