How to write a powerful mission statement
This quick guide shows you everything you need to know about writing a powerful, compelling mission statement.
27 February 2021 · 7 min read
Does your business or professional practice have a mission statement? What about a vision statement? It definitely should have both. To the average online user, vision and mission statements can often seem like just words on a page, but these words primarily influence your business’s end goals and why they should matter to your target market.
Many business owners have come to look at mission statements as the guiding beacon of the business. Organizations are founded on them too. For example, in the HBO series, Game of Thrones, the Night’s Watch had a mission statement. In real life, a good example is Nike’s “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
If you’re yet to pen your mission statement or your current one could use an upgrade, this quick guide shows you everything you need to know about writing a powerful, compelling mission statement.
What’s in a mission statement?
A mission statement essentially summarizes your company’s core values and objectives. The statements tend to sound formal and important, as they should rightly be. Mission statements are typically short (three sentences max) and punchy. The shorter you can go and still make sense, the better.
You’ll need to own this statement and make sure everyone interacting with your company or organization is aware of it. Everything you and your team do should be aligned with this statement. It is what guides them and their approach to the work. An effective mission statement often revolves around a genuine desire to help people and solve problems.
Your mission statement can provide several unique benefits, including:
- Clarity and purpose — If this is your first time as a business owner, then you already know that you have tons to learn along the way. Your mission statement can provide clarity on the why, what, who, and where of your company. This makes it an effective compass for navigating your way across those uncharted waters.
- Set practical goals — Doubts and distractions are bound to creep up every now and then. A good mission statement can help keep you grounded in your core value propositions. You also make decisions based on their relevance to your mission statement.
- Connect with our target audience — People who share common values with your mission statement make the perfect clients. They know why this product or service is needed and wholeheartedly endorse it because it appeals to their core values.
Now it’s important not to overthink your mission statement. Put some careful thought into it, yes, but it’s totally fine if it’s not perfect from the start. Many companies evolve their mission statements as their business grows.
Note also that it’s not only companies and nonprofits that can use mission statements. You could create your mission statement for how you want to live your life. However, crafting a personal mission statement will require a deep introspective look.
What about a vision statement?
A vision statement describes your organization’s ultimate goals and overarching purpose. It is often used as the foundation of strategic planning. For example, in its early days, Microsoft’s vision statement was “a computer on every desk and in every home.” Today, it has evolved into “to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.”
Vision statements define the present and future aspirations and values of a company. It represents what the organization wants to achieve at its highest level and what to be remembered for. That’s why it must be a well-crafted statement, one that succinctly captures what you’re doing now, as well as your biggest plans for the future.
Why does this matter?
An effective vision statement sticks with you, but more than that, it can be quite infectious, which in this instance, is a really good thing. Research has shown employees who are aligned with their company’s vision statement are more engaged and productive. This makes them great corporate ambassadors for your company and improves teamwork.
A vision statement also attests to all your achievements in the pursuit of your long-term goals. Given just how much of an impact a good vision statement can have on your company’s success, it’s definitely worth putting in the time and effort to craft one.
How do I craft a good mission statement?
There are three main steps to an effective mission statement. But before we dive in, make sure that what you’re putting together is actually a mission statement and not a tagline or a slogan. It’s easy to fall into this trap, especially if this is your first time. Also, aim to be articulate. Generic sentences are a no-no.
With that out of the way, let’s get to how you can write a powerful mission statement.
- Step 1: Establish your organization’s purpose
Even if you’re a small business, there are many things that you want for your company and customers. What does your company help people do better? Are you focused on high-quality solutions, perhaps your company’s purpose is for the empowerment of others?
Your company’s purpose can directly impact its bottom line. It defines how you market your business, what kind of customers to target, how to design your branding, what makes you stand out from the competition, and many other crucial functions.
If it’s a larger company, it’s likely that their purpose is already well defined. So the next step is to gather data from the company’s stakeholders. Interview them about what they want for the company both now and in the future. Remember, the mission statement must be robust, yet detailed and there’s no better place to get this information than from the stakeholders themselves.
- Step 2: Analyze the data identify common themes
Analyze all their responses and identify any emerging themes. This is how your mission statement starts to take shape. Don’t worry about the length of the statement yet or the final presentation. Just write down everything that you want your mission statement to cover about your business.
Next, start whittling down these ideas into simple sentences. Don’t be afraid to rewrite over and over. As long as you’re keeping to the main themes, you can make changes as needed.
Here are some important notes to keep in mind about mission statements:
- They must be attainable — it’s important to dream big, but it’s equally important to be practical.
- They must be absolutely clear and easy to understand — No one should read your mission statement and then have to try to make sense of what they just read.
- They should be inspirational — Management and employees alike should be inspired by your company’s mission statement to want to keep putting in their all.
They should be unique and set your company apart — Look at Tesla’s mission statement, for example, “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” This statement immediately sets them apart from other automobile manufacturers that are still using fuel combustion engines.
- Step 3: Discuss your written statement with stakeholders
For a small business, this probably just means you. But for larger organizations, major stakeholders must agree on a mission statement before the company can use it. Expect some conflicting opinions — some may want to add to the statement, some may wish to remove from it, some may even reject it outright. That’s ok — it’s all part of the process. Such a crucial task should not be rushed, after all.
Once the company leadership has endorsed your ideas, you can start to look into the actual writing. Simplicity is essential here. Remember you’re aiming for one sentence ideally. A good example is Linkedin’s mission statement, “to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”
That’s where mission statement generators can be advantageous.
What are mission statement generators?
Perhaps the more prudent question is, do they work? In theory, mission statement generators help you craft compelling mission statements like a worksheet with automation solutions and easy-to-use templates.
However, they’re not particularly effective if you don’t have enough relevant information. If you followed the three steps above, you should have enough relevant business information.
There are tons of free mission statement generators available today. But before we go into our top picks, you should know that no matter how sophisticated, there’s no tool that can truly capture the essence of your mission statement. It has to be truly inspired.
The role of these tools is to help drive inspiration and help you choose the best tone and wording of the mission statement.
Top picks for free mission statement generators
This stool is quite simple to use. You just have to fill in the necessary information like the company name, brand personality, industry, main value propositions, target consumers, etc. It’s a pretty detailed questionnaire. Once complete, the tool will inject a few buzzwords into the mix and generate your mission statement.
If you don’t like it, you can generate a different statement until you find the right one or at least the one that requires the least tweaks.
Whole Whale’s mission statement generator is more like a template, and you just fill in the relevant information about your company. There are five boxes to fill in and then the tool brings everything together into a cohesive mission statement. The main issue here is that it’s not the tool that makes your mission statement compelling — it’s all about the quality of the information you fill in.
This mission statement generator makes our list because it breaks down the mission statement writing into different categories. It has an opener, adverb, adjective, verb, noun, conjunctive, and closer categories. You can then mix and match these components as needed. There are also tons of industry buzzwords and phrases that you can throw in to make your statement more rounded.
This one works more like an article spinner. It mixes buzzwords together until you find something that sticks. The problem with this is that too many buzzwords and jargon can bog down your mission statement, making it unnecessarily longer and more challenging to understand.
The bottom line
Writing a powerful mission statement is vital to your company’s long-term success. It is, therefore, not something to take lightly. Whatever it is, make sure it revolves around improving the quality of life of anyone who interacts with your business. Be open to inspiration and more importantly, put some thought into crafting a memorable statement.
Did you find this quick guide helpful? You can check out our resource center for more relevant information on small business basics, like How to build a brand, How to start a company, and other related topics. At B12, we strongly believe in sharing our knowledge and expertise.