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Mission statements are fascinating components of the world’s most successful businesses. Sure, we have all seen dozens of bland, generic mission statements that don’t mean much. However, when a business manages to craft a stunning mission statement, it can be awe-inspiring.
But what are mission statements, and why are they so important?
Mission statements are unique statements designed by a business to describe why it was created. Just like the name suggests, it is a way of stating the mission or purpose of the business. It is usually succinct, captured in a few words. Sometimes though, it may run into paragraphs.
Therefore, a business’s mission statement acts as the guideposts or yardstick upon which company decisions potential future directions are juxtaposed. It helps the business stay on track and keep the main thing the main thing.
Besides, a well-written mission statement can be very inspiring, keeping you and your employees constantly committed to the common goal and the bigger picture while working on the day-to-day activities.
Top Mistakes Made When Writing Mission Statements
If mission statements are so important, why are so many businesses getting it wrong? What are the common mistakes being made? The team at Hubspot did a remarkable job of listing them in an article. Some of them are:
Let’s face it: the term is called a mission statement, not a mission anthem. It is supposed to be a statement that succinctly captures the essence of what the business is about and what it stands for. That means it is best captured in one sentence, maximum two.
Anything longer, and it starts losing its spark. The way mission statements work, it captures the main idea and gives room for more exploration.
It is perfectly fine for a business to have a humble beginning. All of the big brands we know today started out that way. However, humble beginnings are not excuses for small missions.
At the beginning, it is easy to get so stuck on that one tactic to sell that one product. With that mindset, it is harder for the business to scale. But seeing a much bigger picture and committing to a grander goal will set your mission statement apart.
While we want the mission statement to be audacious, that doesn’t mean it should be a shot in the dark. Specificity is necessary to give the customers a good idea of what you stand for.
A similar mistake is throwing in a lot of jargon and empty words that mean nothing to your target audience, into your mission statement. While it might sound nice and professional to you, your clients can’t even decipher it, let alone remember it.
How To Write A Remarkable Mission Statement
Now that we have discussed the mistakes, how do we get it right? Entrepreneur Magazine lists a few qualities of a good mission statement, and many of them are solutions to the mistakes mentioned above. Here they are:
Mission statements are not meant to be unnecessarily long. All a good mission statement should do is open people’s mind to the idea of your purpose, not regale them with old war stories.
Take a look at Google’s corporate mission.
“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
As you can see, it brilliantly captures every business decision Google has taken from its inception without going into all the details. Think of a mission statement as the idea you can quickly share with someone in a hurry. Too long, and you lose them.
Even if you are running a small business and offering one service at the moment, that doesn’t mean you can’t dream big. Foresight will help guide your decisions from the start and make people rally around your big dreams. By the way, you can adjust your mission statement if it falls short.
Take a look at Microsoft’s change to their mission statement:
In the past, Microsoft’s mission was to have “a computer on every desk and in every home.” Back when that was created, it must have sounded audacious. However, as time has shown, it is not so strange anymore.
To break new grounds, Microsoft decided to change that to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” That is more challenging and more purposeful.
While many businesses are wrapped up in big words that don’t mean much, the ability to spell out what your purpose is in your mission statement, in such a way that makes sense to your clients, is a beautiful quality.
The people at Zappos are well known for how committed they are to their mission statement:
“To provide the best customer service possible.”
Of course, great customer service could come in many forms. However, it is still very clear what they are aiming at. That is why this characteristic is well recognizable in their services and their staffs. You see, mission statements aren’t too complicated when you know what you are looking for. Take some time, brainstorm and ask yourself what you are doing all these for. Surely, that idea will jump right at you, and it might just change the world.