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.
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”.
“[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:
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:
- If you are looking for a place to start, list out all the Whats, Whos, and Whys of your business and start condensing the elements
- Keep it simple, short, and easy to repeat, so it can be shared easily
- Use language that is authentic to you and your industry – nothing makes a Mission Statement more empty than obviously pretentious language
- Make it motivational – the purpose is to communicate with potential associates and customers AND inspire them to an action
- Include it on all marketing materials, from your blog to your business card to your radio commercial
- Don’t be afraid to experiment – I’ve seen some Mission Statements that were fully formed sentences, and others that were just phrases or words listed out together. As long as you can intelligently and quickly explain it to someone else, feel free to express your Mission in whatever way feels “right”
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,