When someone asks you why your business exists, do you have to think about the answer? If so, you need a Mission Statement!
A Mission Statement (MS) consists of one or two succinct sentences describing your business and should be included near the top of your business plan. It is your concise answer to, “Tell me about your business.” Entrepreneurs and small business owners with a good MS will have the advantage of being clearly understood by potential employees, partners, lenders, and vendors -- not to mention friends and family.
When starting The Entrepreneur’s Friend from scratch, I spent time thinking about what I wanted to accomplish. When the business concept originated, I was attending a writer’s conference. The key directives we heard over and over were 1) focus on what you know, 2) be true to yourself, and 3) be able to describe your idea clearly in an elevator ride. Since the elevators at the conference went no more than five floors, it had to be short!
Over time, the MS for The Entrepreneur’s Friend developed: Offer practical guidance, encourage character development, and share spiritual insight to help others plan, start and grow businesses. I knew I wanted to focus on these three aspects of life as an entrepreneur. But, the idea was not tested until I began to get a positive response almost every time I shared it.
If you are in the business development stage, it is worth taking time – right now – to clarify your thinking with a MS. If you have an existing business, it is not too late to write one. In any event, ponder the key words and ideas that describe your vision and clarify your thinking.
Just because a Mission Statement is short does not mean it is simple to write. Start with a few key words and ideas. Jot them down as you think of them. If you are already up and running, ask others to describe your business. You may be surprised! If it is a good surprise, consider adding the thought into your MS. If it is an unexpected/negative surprise, you may have more than your MS to ponder.
Collect your ideas and share them with those you trust. Ask them to challenge you in your thinking. Give yourself some time, along with a deadline.
A Mission Statement is often clearly identified on a website, store wall, or service invoice. In fact, my church prints one on the bulletins and newsletters. Consider whether or not you believe the Mission Statement matches your understanding of the entity it describes. Watch for them and think about how yours would be different – or similar.
There is no rigid format. You can use a brief statement with bullet points underneath. Or a simple sentence. If it becomes something you choose to share publicly, it may require additional word-smithing.
The goal is to have a statement representing you and your output, while challenging the business to stay on target. It is your stake in the ground. Future decisions about the direction of your company should be measured against your MS.
Spending time on a Mission Statement will result in focus and understanding. It can always evolve as your business grows. Why not invest some time this week and develop your own?
Until we meet again,
The Entrepreneur’s Friend
The Entrepreneur’s Friend® is a registered trademark of Wheaton Consulting Group LLC. Photo credits: All photos were taken by Cynthia Wheaton and owned by Wheaton Consulting Group LLC except as noted. Coffee cup art by Jim Wheaton. Author support: Fellow authors from The Wrinklings and Light of Carolina Christian Writers Group.