Businesses need mission statements to tell the public and especially their customers what it is the business does. If the customer is not sure of the product or service you deliver, they can hardly be expected to feel a need to seek it. Mission statements are also useful in making sure that staff and employees act in concert to deliver the goods and services for which their company exists. Without a mission statement, employees act independently and may not deliver what is expected and at the very least will experience difficulties working as a team. They become their own competition. In an already competitive environment, it is pointless to lose productivity to internal competition.
But what goes into a mission statement? It is important to realize that the statement is just that, a short concise mantra and not a manifesto. The statement should be recitable and short enough to fit on the plaque that will sit on your desk. Two major mistakes often doom a business’s effort to create its mission statement. The first mistake is made when the mission statement is not written down or recorded somewhere. Too often the owner keeps it in his or her head. Unfortunately, this leaves the business owner as the only one who truly knows what it is the business does. The mission statement needs to be a written statement that appears everywhere possible and is part of the branding message of the business. It needs to be known by and understood by the employees of the company and certainly the business’s customers. The second major mistake is making the mission statement so long that it cannot be remembered. You do not want your employees looking it up every time they are asked to state it. It is short and concise, not more than a sentence or two. This is not your elevator speech but rather a statement that makes me willing to listen to your elevator speech.
Because it needs to be short and concise, the wording is important. Your mission statement should give me the information I need to determine if your service or product is the solution to my need. A photo studio’s mission statement might read as follows: “We take really good pictures that capture the moments you’ll remember”. Not bad but, with a little tweaking: “We produce the photos of the memories you create”. Or maybe a pizza delivery service’s mission statement, “Hot, fast, and tasty delivered right to your front door”. This makes for a good slogan but not necessarily a great mission statement. How about this instead? “Our mission is to make YOUR pizza match YOUR order every time and with no cost delivery”. Many pizza places can promise the first statement, but what sets the second business apart is the attention to detail and the personalizing effect of calling it the customer’s pizza. After all, they are the ones paying for it and eating it.
Mission statements tell me What your business does but there is also the How and Why your business does what they do. In my next article, I will write about the vision statement and why it is even more critical than your mission statement. Stay tuned.
Written by Kenneth Wundrow, Certified SCORE Mentor