Big dreams and a clear mission are essential to winning at business. But as a busy leader, how the heck do you find time to flesh out your mission while you’re putting out fires and running around being the CEO—the chief everything officer?
We get it! But creating a mission statement is one of the most important things you can do for your company. Let’s be clear though—a mission statement isn’t some fancy statement you make up to display on your website. It’s the heartbeat of your company and says to the marketplace, “This is who we are!” Your mission statement in action can turn your customers and team members into some of your business’s most loyal fans. So yes, while you’re in the middle of kicking the butts of any fire-breathing business dragons, you have to find the time to stop, reflect and ask yourself why you’re really in the business.
Let’s explore what a mission statement is and why you need one. Then we’ll look at some examples to inspire you as you write your own. Before you know it, you’ll be set up for more amazing business momentum and profitability.
What Is a Company Mission Statement, and Do I Really Need One?
A mission statement says loudly and proudly in just one or two sentences, “Here’s why my organization exists.” It answers what you do and why you do it and clarifies your company’s personality and core values all at the same time.
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Maybe you’re already great at dreaming big, casting vision, or setting goals. But as career coach and author Dan Miller warns, without a mission statement, you could end up using your strengths and skills to climb to the top of the ladder only to find it’s leaning against the wrong building. Your mission statement keeps you leaning on the right building by clearly defining who you are—and who you aren’t.
So, whether you’re a business of one, 101, or somewhere in between, stop and work through what you’re really about so you can then actively go about growing your business.
How Do I Write a Company Mission Statement?
Let’s be real—finding the words that say who your organization is and what that means to the world is hard. The good news is, you’re not pulling them out of thin air. You’re capturing what you’re already on mission to do.
But getting all that down in one powerful statement won’t happen in between phone calls and meetings. Block off time on your calendar to focus. You may even want to take time away from the office to reflect and then put all of your ideas on paper, on purpose. Your mission statement can’t just live in your head if you want it to make a difference in the lives of your team members and customers.
You’ll be surprised by how energizing it is to spend time really thinking about what your business does, who you want to help, and why. By the time you’re finished, you may be so pumped to get to work, you’ll be sleeping with your shoes on! So now, let’s get to the really good stuff.
Here’s Your Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Mission Statement:
1. Describe what your company does well. (This is your what.)
Don’t overthink this. What’s the thing your company does really, really well? What problems do you solve? If there are a lot of things, list them out and then look for a common theme or purpose.
At EntreLeadership, for example, we host events, coach business leaders, and provide print and digital educational resources. But the whole point of all those things is to help business owners grow their businesses—to help them win.
2. Be specific about how you accomplish your purpose through your core values and passions.
This is not about the day-to-day operation of your business. It’s about the way you choose to accomplish your purpose. For example, do you inspire, educate or empower? Do you help, serve or organize? Are you more task-oriented or people-centric? If you own a summer camp, you’re not providing quality lodgings for middle school students—you’re inspiring the next generation’s love for the great outdoors. Get specific, but don’t get too operational.
3. Define your purpose. (This is your why.)
Bestselling author and speaker Simon Sinek said it well: “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.” Think about why your business exists and what you want it to accomplish. This is where you breathe real life into your organization.
For example, Walmart’s mission is to save people money so they can live better. Their why is to help people live better. Why does Walmart run a low-cost company for everyday products, from groceries to general merchandise? To help customers around the world provide for their families so they can save money and live better. Why did Walmart create an “everyday low price” shopping experience online and in stores? To bring value to people anytime, anywhere that makes their lives better. You get the idea!
Other Mission Statement Examples:
Google: To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Microsoft: To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
Netflix: To entertain the world.
Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
4. State why you’re different in the marketplace. (This is what sets you apart.)
One of the most valuable things a mission statement can do for your business is to clearly say what makes your business unique. A good exercise is to start by defining who you aren’t and then move on to what sets you apart from everyone else.
One final note: As you put your mission statement together, avoid buzzwords or a mile-long list of things your company does. Just focus on the main thing, and state that clearly and simply.
You may go through several drafts before you get the wording just right, and that’s okay. Keep working at it until it feels right. Share it with key team members or a mentor so they can offer ideas and help you smooth any rough edges.
Once you’ve nailed it, get the final version of your mission statement on paper, because you’re more likely to live out your mission if you write it down. This is also when you should share it with your whole team—and keep sharing and reminding and inspiring them—so they feel united in the mission and committed to building momentum for your amazing business.
You don’t have to figure it out alone! Download the easy-to-follow Mission Statement Mapper that will help you write a mission statement that gets you and your team fired up and on the same page.
What Is the Difference Between a Mission Statement and a Vision Statement?
Vision and mission statements work together. A mission statement says why your organization exists, and a vision statement is your mission lived out the nth degree. What would the world look like if you were 100% successful in your mission? LinkedIn did a great job of tying its mission and vision together and making them meaningful:
Mission: Connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.
Vision: Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.
Bottom line? Vision statements are about where you’re going, and mission statements are about why you’re going there. Together, they can point you and your team in the right direction.
What Should a Mission Statement Accomplish?
A mission statement should help you make better decisions for your business. With it, you’ve got that North Star reminding you what your business is supposed to be about and helping you rule out opportunities that don’t line up with your mission. At Ramsey Solutions, everything we do is rooted in our mission statement. If a new idea doesn’t fit, we won’t do it—even if it has the potential to be profitable.
A meaningful mission statement can change the future of your business. You’ll spend about a third of your life at work—that’s right, a third. When work is connected to the things that matter most to you, there’s drive, fulfillment and a chance to make a group of individuals into a team—a team that can really make a difference in the world. If that doesn’t get you fired up, we don’t know what will!
Your mission statement will help you own and act on your company values. Company values guide how you and your team members work together as a team. They help you create a healthy culture and hire the right people. Both are essential to growing your business! If you haven’t written your values down on paper, check out our core values guide to get started.
With a meaningful mission statement, company values and powerful momentum, you’ll grow a business where you don’t just do work—but where you do work that matters.
You don’t have to figure it out alone! Download the easy-to-follow EntreLeadership Mission Statement Mapper that will help you write a mission statement that gets you and your team fired up and on the same page.
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