What is a Business Mission Statement?
A business mission statement is a short and crisply phrased statement that clearly defines the purpose of an organization and broader vision for the future. It succinctly answers the essential question of why a particular organization exists, reflects what that organization values most and outlines what it wants to achieve.
For instance, consider Google’s official business mission statement:
“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
This statement is a clear reflection of Google’s purpose, who it wants to benefit and its goals. Google’s aim is not limited to being a search engine. It is broader and more ambitious than that. This ambition has helped propel Google into the giant enterprise it is today.
Having a mission statement can help your company organize around a goal and achieve success. That’s why developing a mission statement is critical when you develop your initial business plan and/or when you update your plan periodically.
How to Write a Mission Statement with Examples from Well-Known Companies
A good business mission statement will be an amalgamation of pragmatism and optimism. On the one hand you do not want a bland, matter-of-fact statement that fails to stimulate. On the other, you do not want a grandiose statement that makes exaggerated claims about the business.
Below you’ll find certain key elements that go into the making of a memorable business mission statement, along with some notable mission statements from some famous organizations around the world.
Keep it Short and Sweet
Ideally a business mission statement is two sentences or less. This is certainly easier said than done. However, a mission statement needs to be inspiring and memorable, and if it runs for more than a few sentences it cannot easily be either.
Even if you come up with a paragraph in the initial brainstorming sessions, try and pare it down to a catchy, easy-to-remember statement.
A good example comes from Tesla. Tesla is an American clean energy giant that predominantly produces electric vehicles. Their mission statement declares, “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
This single-sentence mission statement captures the gist of Tesla’s daily business endeavors, appeals to people who value sustainability and in just a few words tells you what motivates Tesla.
Think Long Term
Since a business mission statement encapsulates the purpose of your business, think long term when you create your mission statement. Evaluate what exactly you want to achieve in the coming years.
Consider tech giant Apple’s mission statement which states, “To bring the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.”
It uses the word ‘innovative’ to underline the core value that powers Apple to create its myriad products. In fact, innovation is probably one of the first things that comes to mind when you think of Apple. This mission statement is a great example of authentically highlighting objectives and future ambitions.
Explain What Your Business Does
Your business mission statement should reflect the core purpose of your company’s existence. Peel away the jargon and management lingo and simply write about the elemental product and/or service you offer.
This is wonderfully highlighted in Uber’s mission statement. Uber has forever changed the ride sharing industry through its mission “To bring transportation – for everyone, everywhere.”
Notice how the statement is concise and focuses on the present purpose of Uber. They have revolutionized transportation and that is the direction they will continue to pursue.
Explain How Your Business Functions
Another important element to keep in mind while writing a business mission statement is the process of achieving your said purpose. You do not need to go into the nitty-gritty of your operations. Instead, try to pick a few words to describe how your business generally functions.
Let’s look at Lush Cosmetics for an example of incorporating the business process in the mission statement. Lush is a widely popular brand whose onus is on making fresh cosmetics that are completely cruelty free, ethically sourced and gentle on the environment. The Lush mission statement is, “To make products by hand with only vegetarian ingredients with little to no preservatives.”
This statement succinctly captures their process alongside their core beliefs about animal, environment and community welfare. You instantly understand how Lush goes about making its products, what ingredients are used and what those ingredients do or do not contain – all in a single statement.
Explain Why Your Business Does What It Does
A business mission statement must convey the passion behind your organization’s purpose. If it has been a while since you opened your business, you might want to think back on your early days to relive why you launched in the first place.
Consider Penguin Random House, an international publishing house operating in 20 countries. Penguin’s mission statement is, “Together, our mission is to foster a universal passion for reading by partnering with authors to help create stories and communicate ideas that inform, entertain, and inspire, and to connect them with readers everywhere.”
Anyone reading this mission statement is instantly clear on why Penguin exists.
Stick to the Present Tense
Unlike a vision statement that is future oriented, a mission statement talks about the business in the now. Use present tense to capture the current business goals of your company. Explain what your business is doing right now and why.
One of the world’s finest universities, the University of Cambridge stands by a mission statement that clearly illustrates what the current goals of the university are: “To contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence”.
Stay Away from Superlatives and Buzzwords
When framing your mission statement steer clear of superlatives like ‘the best’, ‘world class’, ‘the greatest’ and the like. These phrases are used amply and mean very little. Similarly, avoid using popular buzzwords since they quickly become overused.
Explore Multiple Perspectives
A good business mission statement provides clarity to employees, stakeholders and customers alike and has the potential to unify your entire organization. It should make people want to use your product and/or service. It should also make people want to work for you.
Be proactive and seek out the opinions of those people and whether they think the mission statement reflects a true and/or complete picture of the business. You will be surprised at the perspectives different groups can bring to the table.
Update as Your Business Changes
Do not be shy about going back to your business mission statement periodically to ensure it is in sync with the present values and purposes of your business. As business conditions change, so do businesses. If your business pivots or diversifies at some point, reflect these new realities in your mission statement.