When we discussed the Business Plan the mission statement is one of the first things that you need to have at the top of the plan. Often though it is one of the last things that is developed.
So hard, so important
A mission statement sums up your company, why you are in business, what your aims are, what your product or service is, who your primary customers are and geography you work in. Sounds not so bad, but it has to be done in one to three sentences and in around 30-60 words maximum.
Now you understand why it is difficult.
Each of your employees needs to know and understand your mission statement. It is the core of the business, the elevator pitch in many ways. If they understand this then they should know exactly what your business is about and know if what they are doing fits with the company’s aims or not.
Other groups that look at mission statements are potential investors: they want to know that the business is clearly defined with a clear aim; and clients / prospects: they may want to know that the business works in a way that they are happy with.
So now you know why it is important.
Let’s take a look at a couple of mission statements and see how they hold together:
Apple: “We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are here to make the best products on earth, and to leave the world better than we found it.”
With this mission statement Apple are clear that they are global. That they believe that they have superior products, and that is always the aim, so customers can feel confident in their investment in Apple’s products.
They give their rationale for existence as being to produce the best anywhere in the world. Then they hint at their CSR aspects – they want to leave the world better than they found it – that has environmental overtones, but also the way that they care for their staff making their lives better, and also that their products make the world better for their users. That last one depends on screen addiction, but think about the dementia sufferer that has alarms and to do lists on their iPhone or iPad to maintain their independence or the woman desperate to be a Mum who uses a cycle tracking app to see when she is at her most fertile.
Apple have covered a lot in two sentences and 39 words.
Netflix’s mission statement is more wordy: “At Netflix, we want to entertain the world. Whatever your taste, and no matter where you live, we give you access to best-in-class TV shows, movies and documentaries. Our members control what they want to watch, when they want it, with no ads, in one simple subscription.”
This time the two sentences have 47 words. It is evident that this mission statement is aimed squarely at clients and prospects by using the second person combined with the first person. They use the word members to imply a kind of club, a community, not a customer, but someone who controls what they watch and by their feedback help Netflix to define what to produce more of. Again, a company with global aims, and they are in 190 countries so far in the world, so they are delivering on that aim.
Now let’s look at a very short mission statement from Gucci: “The company`s mission is to become the leader in luxury market at worldwide level.”
Just one sentence and one 14 words. It is short, to the point, but does it really cover all the topics back in the first paragraph? If we look at the 10 words after “the company’s mission is” then they have a clear aim in a clear geography, but they don’t really state who their client base is, yes they say luxury, but that is not a client base is it? It may be that someone saves up for a one-off piece, or they could be high net worth individuals who buy as a matter of course.
Of course, luxury is also subjective depending where in the world and which demographic you are looking at.
The mission statement assumes that the reader knows quite a lot about Gucci to start off with, as they don’t define which element of the luxury market they want to be the leader in, after all they don’t manufacture cars, private jets, yachts or hand-made bespoke kitchens as some examples. This mission statement doesn’t really hit what it should do.
What to consider when developing your own mission statement:
- Action: Use active voice for urgency, not passive voice.
- Simplicity: Avoid all jargon and buzzwords – it has to be understood by all readers not just those in your business or your sector.
- Growth: Allow room to grow in the future. Don’t have a mission statement that restricts you or your staff.
- Personality: Your mission statement needs to show the personality of your business.
- Forward-looking: Remember to look at the bigger picture: none of the examples above state current facts about the business but what they are aiming for.
If you need any help defining what your business’ mission is then please give us a call.