One of the secrets to success is to focus on a limited number of things at any one time. The secret to focusing is to know exactly why you want to do something and how you are going to do it. One way you can get this done is to go through the process of creating a mission statement.
If you think this is a poor suggestion, hear me out. I know there are many examples of useless mission statements. The image for this post shows one. Having worked in the education sector I’ve come across institutions with rather poor mission statements. Phrases like “the best for every child”, and “to their full potential” trigger more questions than certainty and leave you with the suspicion they’re just the results of a box ticking exercise. However working through the process of making a mission statement can be useful, even if a final statement is difficult to define.
A good mission statement should help clarify why your business exists and what its purpose is. It should also help you define the appropriate products or services to offer your target audience and what differentiates you from the competition.
If this seems a bit of a challenge start by thinking about the good you do. How is your customer’s life improved because your business exists? Focus on a specific problem if it helps and ideally set a big goal, something you can strive for.
To be honest getting clear answers to these questions should be your most important objective. It doesn’t matter if you can’t summarise them in a couple of succinct sentences. It is important that you know why your business exists, for whom, what you deliver, and how you differ from the competition.
Work on your answers until you have something that can help guide you forward and inspire you to create the business your answers point towards. Don’t make your mission about making money. While this is vital for any business to thrive, it should not be the mission.
You may be able to express your mission statement in a sentence or it may take a couple of paragraphs. Ben & Jerry have three separate mission statements, one for social, one for product, and one for economic. As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter how you express your mission statement. The important thing is to identify a reason for your business to exist, to know what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it differently. Get these clearly defined and you’ll be able to focus and move forward without distraction.
If you need some mission statement inspiration Google the search term ‘company mission statements examples’. I’ve also listed some examples below.
“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Google
“We seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators.” Amazon
“To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” Twitter
“To care for the world we live in, from the products we make to the ways in which we give back to society.” Aveda
“To satisfy curiosity and make a difference in people’s lives by providing the highest quality content, services and products that entertain, engage and enlighten.” Discovery Media
“Makes the world a more caring place by helping people laugh, love, heal, say thanks, reach out and make meaningful connections with others.” Hallmark
“To rid the world of corporate babble, one concise sentence at a time.” YourBrandVox.com
“Spread Ideas.” TED