Developing your Mission Statement

Core Business Documents

There are three core documents that drive business strategy:

  1. Your Core Values
  2. Your Mission Statement
  3. Your Vision Statement

Each document informs the one that follows with the Vision Statement specifically driving your strategy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Your mission statement describes the core benefit that your business provides. It may inform the what, how, and why of your business.

That’s it!

From there you can vary quite a bit and develop something that works best for you and your business.

For example the mission statement for TED is a sparse two words:

Spreading ideas“.

while the mission statement for Valley Behavioral Health is a hefty (but effective) 57-word paragraph:

At Valley Behavioral Health, we help individuals, families and organizations heal from mental and behavioral health issues, trauma and substance abuse. We are committed to providing warm, professional and compassionate care and connecting people to effective services. Whether you’re suffering yourself, or you care about someone who is, don’t do it alone. Let’s deal with it together.”

Developing your Mission Statement

Although there really are no hard and fast rules of mission-statement-development, I have found the following guidelines to be helpful in brainstorming:

Make your mission timeless

Your company’s vision will, of necessity, evolve as time goes on. However, your mission statement should be timeless. Whether it’s 1919, 2019 or 2119, your mission statement should stay relevant. This may require ambiguity in terms of your business products or services, and that’s okay.

Consider Jet Blue’s mission statement: “To inspire humanity – both in the air and on the ground.” Their mission communicates their benefit and their purpose without even specifying their core service of airline travel!

This timelessness gives them the flexibility to alter and evolve their strategy as circumstances and opportunities change.

Make your mission actionable

When considering an acquisition, project, or investment your mission statement should be the measuring stick against which you compare.

Nordstrom’s mission is “To give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.” Knowing this, would you expect Nordstrom to break into the residential construction industry? Probably not. Doing so wouldn’t align with their mission.

However, developing their Nordstrom app – despite being a product of the software development industry – does align with their mission by further providing a “compelling shopping experience”.

Let your mission inspire you

It’s inevitable. You business will fall on hard times. It’s a tough place to be. You’ll have doubt, discouragement, depression and you’ll ask “why am I still doing this?”

Your mission statement should answer that question.

If you were Micrsoft your answer to “why am I still doing this?” would be “…to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

If you were Squarespace, your answer would be “…[To empower] people with creative ideas to succeed.”

So decide, what would your answer be? Why are you doing what you do? What is your mission statement?

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