By W.W. Mayes
Last week in part one of how to write a mission statement we discussed; what a mission statement is, what your thought process should be in building a company mission statement, and you were given a few examples of real company mission statements.
Your “Mission Statement” should help clarify what business you are in or going into, your goals, and your objectives, according to Rhonda Abrams, author of “The Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies.” A mission statement is a key tool that can be as important as your whole business plan. It captures in a few succinct sentences, the essence of your business’s goals and the philosophies underlying them. Equally important, the mission statement signals what your business is all about to your customers, employees, suppliers, and the community.
The mission statement reflects every facet of your business: the range and nature of the products you offer, pricing, quality, service, marketplace position, growth potential, use of technology, and your relationships with your customers, employees, suppliers, competitors, and the community. Your mission statement should reflect your business’s special niche.
Putting It All Together
Like anything with lasting value, crafting a mission statement requires time, thought and planning. However, the effort is well worth it. In fact, most start-up entrepreneurs discover that the process of crafting the mission statement is as beneficial as the final statement itself. Going through the process will help you solidify the reason for what you are doing and clarify the motivations behind your business.
Here are some tips to make your mission statement the best it can be:
- Involve those connected to your business. Even if you are a sole proprietor, it helps to get at least one other person’s ideas for your mission statement. Other people can help you see strengths, weaknesses and voids you might miss. If you have no partners or investors to include, consider knowledgeable family members and close friends, employees or accountants. Be sure, however, to pick only positive, supportive people who truly want to see you succeed.
- Set aside several hours–a full day, if possible–to work on your statement. Mission statements are short–typically more than one sentence but rarely exceeding a page. Still, writing one is not a short process. It takes time to come up with language that simultaneously describes an organization’s heart and soul and serves as an inspirational beacon to everyone involved in the business.
- Plan a date. Set aside time to meet with the people who’ll be helping you. Write a list of topics to discuss or think about. Find a quiet, comfortable place away from phones and interruptions.
- Be prepared. If you have several people involved, be equipped with refreshments, extra lists of topics, paper and pencils. Because not everyone understands what a mission statement is about, explain its meaning and purpose before you begin.
- Brainstorm. Consider every idea, no matter how silly it sounds. Stimulate ideas by looking at sample mission statements and thinking about or discussing the questions in the previous section. If you’re working with a group, use a flip chart to record responses so everyone can see them. Once you’ve finished brainstorming, ask everyone to write individual mission statements for your business. Read the statements, select the best bits and pieces, and fit them together.
- Use “radiant words.” Once you have the basic idea in writing, polish the language of your mission statement. “Every word counts,” says Abrams. The statement should create dynamic, visual images and inspire action. Use offbeat, colorful verbs and adjectives to spice up your statements. Don’t hesitate to drop in words like “kaleidoscope,” “sizzle,” “cheer,” “outrageous” and “marvel” to add zest. If you want customers to boast about your goods and services, say so–along with the reasons why. Some businesses include a glossary that defines the terms used in the statement.
American Financial Group, Inc.; “Our purpose is to enable individuals and businesses to manage financial risk. We provide insurance products and services tailored to meet the specific and ever-changing financial risk exposures facing our customers. We build value for our investors through the strength of our customers’ satisfaction and by consistently producing superior operating results.”
Avon Products, Inc.; “The Global Beauty Leader We will build a unique portfolio of Beauty and related brands, striving to surpass our competitors in quality, innovation and value, and elevating our image to become the Beauty company most women turn to worldwide. The Women’s Choice for Buying We will become the destination store for women, offering the convenience of multiple brands and channels, and providing a personal high touch shopping experience that helps create lifelong customer relationships. The Premier Direct Seller We will expand our presence in direct selling and lead the reinvention of the channel, offering an entrepreneurial opportunity that delivers superior earnings, recognition, service and support, making it easy and rewarding to be affiliated with Avon and elevating the image of our industry. The Best Place to Work We will be known for our leadership edge, through our passion for high standards, our respect for diversity and our commitment to create exceptional opportunities for professional growth so that associates can fulfill their highest potential. The Largest Women’s Foundation We will be a committed global champion for the health and well-being of women through philanthropic efforts that eliminate breast cancer from the face of the earth, and that empower women to achieve economic independence. The Most Admired Company We will deliver superior returns to our shareholders by tirelessly pursuing new growth opportunities while continually improving our profitability, a socially responsible, ethical company that is watched and emulated as a model of success.”
I hope that the above examples of real business statements will help to inspire you to develop your own meaningful mission statement for your business.
Once your mission statement is complete, start spreading the word! You need to convey your mission statement to others, inside and outside the business, to tell everyone you know where you are going and why. Post it in your office, where you, employees and visitors can see it every day. Print it on company materials, such as brochures and your business plan or even on the back of your business cards.
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