Really!? A Mission Statement Matters?
Most businesses have a mission statement. We know it is meant to represent what we are striving for. We use fancy words to come up with something that means nothing, resulting in us completely ignoring our mission statement. So why do we spend time to make something that ultimately we and our teams ignore?
The short answer, we do it all wrong. I just finished reading a book that studied successful companies. They all seem to have crystal clarity on why they are in business. What they want to achieve and what they don’t want to go after. A mission statement is this guiding force. It sets the boundaries so that we can focus on what makes us great.
The number 1 reason why small businesses fail is cash flow. The second reason is too much success. – Dave Ramsey
It may seem silly now when we are starting out, but soon success can get the better of us. Say we start of baking cakes. We get some success and start chasing after complementary objects like baking dishes and other crockery items which dilute the main reason why we had customers in the first place. This is where the mission statement should be waving the red flag frantically back at us.
We now understand the importance of a mission statement, so how do we go about creating it? We have to start with meaning and not money. Our goal as a company should be to make lives better, anything less than that seem irrelevant. Once we start to get clear on our mission statement, everything starts to fall in its place. Before that there are few critical questions we need to answer.
- Why are we in business? (What drives us)
- What do we do? (Simply words, no adjectives or unnecessary details needed)
- Who are our customers? (Define our buyer Persona)
- What makes our business so special? (Our strengths)
Our mission statement should make it obvious what benefits we provide, and not what we do. This is critical because it also helps us innovate and serve our clients better. If we defined our business as cassette making business our company would not evolve. However, if our mission was to provide our clients with the best listening experience, than we would evolve to CDs, to mp3 players and today live streaming. Tomorrow we are open to possibilities without compromising our brand.
This is an exercise I did when trying to create a mission statement for BusinessOwnerToEntrepreneur.com. I wrote down everything I could think of when answering these questions. Then started to edit it down, distil the message to its core. Until I could say it in a tweet inspired from Huib van Bockel’s book The Social Brand.
One point we have to keep in mind that our personalities rub off on our companies. We have to be honest with kind of people we are. I am a systems guy. For me having that in place is a big deal. It takes the pressure of me. Since my personality is in this brand it will be much easier for me to train my team. I can stay authentic to my mission statement, and can easily be, what Patrick Lencioni says in his book The Advantage, as the CRO, Chief Reminding Officer. I will be able to set the direction and ensure that my team is reminded of it regularly. If you were wondering what the mission statement of BusinessOwnerToEntrepreneur is:
We help serve small businesses invest in themselves and leverage technology to their advantage for continuous success.
I have been able to define, who my target audience is, how I have to serve them and what determines my success. I eliminate big corporations, and people who are not willing to invest in themselves. I study the technology that can help make their lives a little better, so they can focus on what matter most to them in their business. I have kept the medium by which I communicate open for tomorrows innovations, but keep the reasons that drive me to do what I do well protected in the mission statement.
A mission statement doesn’t just appear out of thin air, we have to work on it. Go back and forth with the ideas; bounce them off people whose opinions matter to us. Take time to invest in it, it will really ensure that success is yours, now and in the future.
Question: What is your mission statement? Mention it in the comment below, even if it is still a draft and we can work on it together.