A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of human history.
— Mahatma Gandhi
The dictionary defines a mission statement as a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organisation, or individual, eg. a mission statement to which all employees can subscribe. A.K.A – an explanation of what you aim to do, how you do it and who you do it for.
A mission statement is different from a vision statement in that a vision statement imagines the desired state of your company, customers, or the world, in an attempt to inspire a sense of greater purpose, while your mission statement explains the strategy you are using to get there in order to motivate action.
A mission statement is an important part of your brand strategy and messaging, as well as providing a north star for your whole team to work towards, but how do you write a mission statement and how does it benefit you?
There are many benefits to having a mission statement, including providing direction, measuring success, unifying teams, aiding in recruitment, ensuring accountability, and inspiring customers. Let’s take a quick look at each of these benefits.
Without a mission statement, you may get to the top of the ladder and then realise it was leaning against the wrong building.
— Dave Ramsey
Having and implementing a mission statement in your business provides a strong sense of direction. It can be used to make decisions, plans, and strategies for the future of your company, and ensure that each of these aligns with your overarching goals. A Mission statement also protects you from getting caught up in the small day-to-day operations and instead focus on the bigger picture, while maintaining the integrity of your business.
As Forbes explains, “When management priorities become strictly driven by short-term business performance considerations, and business transactions are handled on an ad hoc, case-by-case basis, companies often lose their business — and sometimes even their moral — compass.”
A mission statement is not something you write overnight, but fundamentally, your mission statement becomes your constitution, the solid expression of your vision and values. It becomes the criterion by which you measure everything else in your life.
— Stephen Covey
As Stephen Covey explains, a mission statement can and should be used to measure. As your business progresses, it’s important to refer back to it as a way to measure success. Your mission is the overarching goal for your business, so if a decision, product, service, action, experience or any other element of your brand is aligned with that goal, then you’re succeeding.
As I mentioned earlier, a mission statement serves as a great north star for your whole team to work towards. It can keep your team-members united, driven, engaged, motivated, and clear on their purpose.
According to Inc, 73 percent of employees who say they work at a "purpose-driven" company are engaged, compared to just 23 percent of those who don't.
Your mission statement tells potential candidates for employment about your values, culture and beliefs by encapsulating it all in your purpose. A job-seeker is much more likely to choose your business over another when you and your team present, implement and live by a clear mission that they can get behind.
Having a clear mission can consequently aid in employee retention as well. Gallop’s research found that emphasising mission and purpose are the two strongest factors for retaining Millennials, Generation Xers, and Baby Boomers.
Having a public mission statement tells your team and the world what you are setting out to accomplish and keeps you accountable to that goal. Your colleagues and customers will all know what you’re claiming to provide, so every decision must align with that purpose and work towards it in a meaningful way so as to maintain the integrity of your brand and contribute to your overall goal.
When your business has a mission that customers understand, believe in, and get behind, you’re onto a winner. If a customer relates to your mission and believes in what you’re trying to achieve, they’re much more likely to choose your brand over one that they don’t connect with.
To explain this further, Hubspot uses TOMS as an example:
“By connecting a mission to its product offering, TOMS has effectively brought customers back for more — more shoes and more impact. TOMS has built brand loyalty through promising to donate one pair of shoes to an international child in need for every pair purchased. If you had the choice between two pairs of shoes, but purchasing one would literally go the extra mile, which would you choose?”
Let’s have a look at 10 examples of mission statements to inspire you to write your own.
To unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.
To accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.
To create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, providing healthy travel that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable.
To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.
To empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.
To help bring creative projects to life
Empowers people with creative ideas to succeed
Prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilising the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.
As you saw in the above examples, not all mission statements are created equal, and not all follow the same formula, but there is an overarching theme to them all, and I have a template to get you started.
The key to a powerful mission statement is to cover the what, how, who, and value of your business. In order to do that, you can use this simple template:
[What you do] by [How you do it] for [Who you do it for] to [What value you provide]
Let’s look at the Spotify example and break it down:
“To unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.”
What they do is unlock the potential of human creativity, how they do it is giving an opportunity, who they do it for is creative artists and their fans, and the value that they provide is those artists being able to make a living off of their art, and the fans enjoying and being inspired by it.
This example follows the template pretty much to a tee, just in a slightly different order, but yours doesn’t have to so closely. As long as you cover those four main elements (the what, how, who, and value,) in one way or another, you’ll be winning.