I know many small business owners who opened their businesses because they came upon an opportunity or an idea and ran with it. The business account was open, the lease was signed, and they were off. They either didn’t have time to drill down and put the basics of their businesses on paper, or they felt like it wasn’t necessary.
However, there are some business basics that are proven to drive successful businesses forward. One is the mission statement. You can’t sell your business without one.
In order to have a solid foundation to build from, you have got to dig to the kernel of what your business is about. Which words sum up your vision? What is the basis of your brand? Have you written a mission statement before and found it’s no longer viable?
Get out your pencil and your yellow pad, because I’m about to take you on a journey that will put strong legs under your business, and allow you to talk with customers and investors alike so that you can grow.
DIG DEEP INTO YOUR VISION
A mission statement is a few sentences explaining why you do what you do. The mission statement represents your company’s values. It may even give a few words about how those values are achieved.
Once you have that down, you can build the what’s and the how’s of your business. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when writing it; but by bringing your authentic self to the mission statement, you can build a business around what you think the world needs.
Let’s look at a few mission statements that are at the root of some businesses you may recognize.
BRAND: American Express
“We work hard every day to make American Express the world’s most respected service brand.”
MESSAGE: Wow, how’s that for a far reaching goal? But the wording tells us that the people behind the brand “work hard” to make the brand the most respectable in the world. It tells us that their goal is lofty, but that they are willing to put in the effort to be the best.
“To bring creative projects to life.”
MESSAGE: Right on point, Kickstarter targets the creatives who are looking for funding. More than making an idea a reality, the promise here is to bring something to life, to create a cycle, a story, a buzz. A simple, but powerful mission statement.
“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
MESSAGE: Organizing the world’s information? Bring it! Another short and powerful mission statement, which goes further to explain how it will use the information after it is organized.
BRAND: The Home Depot
“The Home Depot is in the home improvement business and our goal is to provide the highest level of service, the broadest selection of products and the most competitive prices.”
MESSAGE: Very deliberate, practical explanation of what happens at this store. Hard to poke holes in this mission statement.
I’m not here to tell you that I advocate these companies or their products. In fact, you might object to the politics or practices of any of these companies. Personal preferences and politics are one thing, but don’t forget to take a look at what works.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
Write down a list of some of your favorite companies.
Look up their mission statements.
Do they have mission statements that clearly define what their missions are?
Which mission statements do you like? Which ones are annoying to you? Why do you think certain statements are effective, or why not? This exercise in discernment can help you recognize the tone of the statement you want to create.
Basic research like this can help you start to shape the most important building block of your company.
And hey, if you want to go further, contact me. I’m available to help you put your vision into words.