HOW TO: Write a mission statement

Synopsis

Relevant To: EU, UK, US
Time to read: 20 minutes
Intended Audience: Founders, Leadership Team
One of the more critical pieces of preparation every leader should complete before going into business. The mission lets people know how you’re going to do what your vision describes.

Before you start

  • Find somewhere quiet to sit.
  • Clear your mind of pressing matters.
  • Have a pencil and paper to-hand, or a flipchart / whiteboard if working with a larger team.

What is it?

Your mission statement explains what your business should be doing day-to-day, to make your vision statement a reality. Remember, the mission statement has to satisfy the two “P’s”: practical and present-day. You mission statement can help guide you with what to do each day and how to do it.

Let’s get started

Step 1: Start with a vision statement

Your mission statement follows-on from your vision statement. If you haven’t yet written your vision statement, you need to do that before continuing.

FURTHER READING:

With your vision statement to hand, you’re trying to answer the question, “What must I do to make this happen?” Mission statements tend to be customer-focused, so another way of asking the question is: “What must I do for my customers to make this vision a reality?”

Step 2: Describe what your business does

Keep this simple and brief. You’re not looking to make this ‘salesy’, it just needs to say exactly what you do. For example:

  • Write mobile apps.
  • Provide digital marketing services.
  • Make lemonade.

Step 3: Describe how your business does what it does

As with step 2, this needs to be pithy. A good tip here is to look at your business values, as there will probably be something from that exercise that captures how your business operates.

FURTHER READING:

You could introduce words here that describe the quality or what your business delivers, or the simplicity. The options here are many and might not actually differentiate you from other businesses. However, the output from steps 2, 3 and 4 together will hopefully achieve that in your chosen market.

Building on the examples in step 2:

  • Write mobile apps, using an internationally-dispersed team of home-working developers.
  • Provide digital marketing services, through crowd-funding initiatives.
  • Make lemonade, using domestically-sourced natural ingredients.

Step 4: Describe why your business does what it does

In this step, you’re providing insight into your reason for being a business in the first place. You’re looking for the ‘spark’ that started it all. It’s hard to say much more at this point because it will be unique to almost every business.

To help you better-understand, we’ve built on the previous examples:

  • Write mobile apps, using an internationally-dispersed team of home-working developers, to help highly-skilled maternity/paternity leavers find opportunities to return-to-work.
  • Provide digital marketing services, through crowd-funding initiatives to enable not-for-profit and start-ups accelerate their growth and reach.
  • Make lemonade, using domestically-sourced natural ingredients to manufacture a delicious drink while reducing the impact on the global environment.

Step 5: Continually Review

Start with your trusted advisors, asking them to cast a critical eye over your mission statement and for honest feedback. As with your vision statement, your mission statement should be under continual review. As your vision statement changes, your mission statement will need to change, too.

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