A company with money is no match against a company on a mission
Writing a Mission statement can be painful exercises for entrepreneurs that have yet to truly define their business–or for people who just hate writing. But they are an important part of your planning, and writing a meaningful one can be a cathartic step in business development.
A compelling mission statement captures succinctly, using only a few sentences, the core of your company and the underlying philosophies that drive you to wake up in the morning.
The perfect mission statement can inspire a company and the people who work in them. It can help managers remember what they’re trying to accomplish and what’s beyond the scope of their enterprise.
Yes, that’s how powerful they are.
For example, here’s Printivo’s mission statement
Printivo: To make printing suck less for Nigerians
To recruit the most talented developers on the African continent and shape them into global technical leaders
To provide Nigerian merchants with the tools and services needed to accept online payments from anywhere in the world
These are really good mission statements. You can be sure employees at Printivo, Paystack and Andela get pretty excited and motivated based on these mission statements.
Unfortunately, a lot of mission statements aren’t this good or effective. You can tell the bad mission statements by just reading them. They look and feel bland, rigid and over analysed and over edited. And that’s about 99% of all mission statements you’re going to read.
Some mission statements are so boring, it’s a wonder the workers get any work done. They may sound fancy, yet remain ambiguous enough to the extent that it doesn’t carry any definite or emotional impact in the mind of the reader.
A grammatically correct mission statement is not the same as a good mission statement.
So how do you write a fantastic mission statement?
1. Ask the right questions
To come up with a statement that encompasses the major elements of your business, start with the right questions. The most important question is, What do you want for your customers? What can you do for them that will enrich their lives and contribute to their success – now and in the future? Since you have already gone through the steps of creating your niche, answering this question should be easy for you.
Secondly, What image of your business do you want to convey? Customers, suppliers, employees and the public will all have perceptions of your company. Here’s your chance to begin shaping it from the get-go. If you want customers to boast about your goods and services, say so – along with the reasons why.
Lastly, What level of service do you provide? Most companies believe they offer “the best service available,” but do your customers agree? Don’t be vague; define what makes your service so extraordinary
2. Use concrete language
An example is the Andela mission statement above. It gives you a picture of exactly what they do and for whom. Don’t try to be flashy with words. Don’t use a complex word when a simpler word will do.
If you can’t communicate what you do in an exciting way that is simple to understand, then how do you expect people to understand or be excited about your product? Fuzzy thinking leads to fuzzy solutions.
So be specific. If you’re trying to change lives, how and whose?
3. Talk about the why
A lot of mission statements are really long (so they got the statement part down) yet the mission itself is ambiguous.
Remember, the whole purpose of a mission statement is to talk about WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. You have to talk about what makes you care.
Talking about the why helps to put a human feel on the whole statement.
4. Adopt a “living” statement
The best mission statements are specific in defining a value proposition, and are “living” in the sense that, they are constantly amended to reflect changing circumstances. Startups, after all, are defined by their uncertainty.
Entrepreneurs should refresh their mission statement at least every three years, or even more frequently than that, changing it to reflect the dynamism of the company.