How to Get Your Mission Statement Components Right the First Time

mission statement

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” – Zig Ziglar.

This quote from Zig Ziglar captures why it is critical to craft a good mission statement for your business. Your mission statement components will, in no more than a few sentences, define the reason your business exists and provide the “target” at which you and the rest of your team are always aiming.

But, before I get too deeply into standard mission statement components and the principles that should be driving your mission statement, let me address those of you who might be getting a little “statement” weary. I’ve discussed the importance of your brand promise, as well as your value proposition, positioning statement, and elevator pitch. So you may be asking, “Why bother with all of these statements about my business?”

I assure you that they’re all important and probably the most important distinction between them is the main audiences for whom they are intended. Your brand promise is intended for the consumer and your value proposition, positioning statement, and elevator pitch are generally written for investors and peers within your industry.

Mission statements must inform and guide

And while all of these groups may read your mission statement and find it informative, the primary audience for your mission statement is you and your team. Your mission statement should cover – either directly or indirectly – these points:

  • What you do.
  • How you do it.
  • Whom you do it for.
  • The value you bring.

When you have the responses for each of those prompts, you can examine everything you do in your business in light of those criteria. You and your employees can ask yourself questions such as:

  • Is this proposed change to a product or service in line with what we want to be doing?
  • Is the way this customer was treated in line with how we deliver our product or service?
  • Does this marketing campaign target the people we hope to serve?

Further, we often discuss the compelling reasons you should be working hard to establish a strong company culture. That process starts with writing an excellent mission statement for your company. Without an accurate mission statement that you are committed to, it’s impossible to establish a healthy company culture. Try to do it without a good mission statement and you’ll wind up demonstrating the truth in Zig Ziglar’s observation.

Tips for writing your mission statement

First, don’t expect to quickly knock out a handful of sentences, think you have all your mission statement components covered, and be done with it. Take your time and go over it with the other principal team members in your company. If you’re coming to this task “late in the game,” it will really help you sharpen the vision you have of your small business.

Whether you’re drafting a mission statement for a new company or for a legacy organization, these are questions that should be deeply understood at the beginning of the process:

  • Why are you in this industry?
  • Why did you start your business?

The answers to these questions will get to the core of your motivation for even being in business in the first place. When you take ownership of those motives, the other mission statement components should begin to fall into place.

Next, take a holistic look at the purpose of your company. When you consider the value you bring, also consider what you do for employees and for owners. Remember, this is essentially an internal document. What value do you intend to deliver to employees and owners?

Mission statement examples

As I said above, you create a mission statement to describe what your company does from an internal perspective, often to inspire and motivate your employees. For this reason, I believe that it’s fine to take a few complete sentences if you have to. Some companies publish a mission statement that, to me, seems almost more like a tagline, like this one:

American Standard’s mission is to “Be the best in the eyes of our customers, employees and shareholders.”

What is American Standard saying? Are they implying that for a while they were considering being “second best” when they set out on their mission? Also note how vague a word like “best” is. Compare that to the specifics in the following examples:

It is the Mission of Advance Auto Parts to provide personal vehicle owners and enthusiasts with the vehicle related products and knowledge that fulfill their wants and needs at the right price. Our friendly, knowledgeable and professional staff will help inspire, educate and problem-solve for our customers – Advance Auto Parts

Guided by relentless focus on our five imperatives, we will constantly strive to implement the critical initiatives required to achieve our vision. In doing this, we will deliver operational excellence in every corner of the Company and meet or exceed our commitments to the many constituencies we serve. All of our long-term strategies and short-term actions will be molded by a set of core values that are shared by each and every associate. – Albertsons

To build shareholder value by delivering pharmaceutical and healthcare products, services and solutions in innovative and cost effective ways. We will realize this mission by setting the highest standards in service, reliability, safety and cost containment in our industry. – AmerisourceBergen.

These examples may seem a little wordy and not too pithy, but even though a mission statement is short, it must be a “working document.” It is almost like a “spec” for your entire small business.

Make sure that the one you craft has enough details so you and your team will be able to tell if you’re “meeting spec” or not.