Every successful business or organization has a clear direction of where they want to go. As the saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
Two statements that help make this possible are the vision statement and mission statement.
What is a Mission Statement?
A mission statement is the written summary of an organization’s aims and values. It helps the organization focus its efforts on activities that propel it toward reaching its goals.
The mission statement essentially does just that: state the organization’s mission, or what it intends to do.
It can define the goals of an organization for these specific areas:
- what it does for its customers
- what it does for its employees
- what it does for its owners
- what it does for its community (optional)
- what it does for the world (optional)
What Is the Difference Between a Mission and a Vision?
A mission statement normally goes hand in hand with a vision statement, but with one clear difference: the vision statement describes the future ideal state that the organization wants to reach, while the mission statement is the road map for getting there.
Another way of putting it is that the vision is the snapshot of your ideal future, and the mission is the “how-to” for that goal.
In one sense, the vision statement answers the following questions:
- What do we want to see?
- Where do we want to go?
The mission statement answers the question:
- How do we get where we want to go?
- What do we do to get there?
To illustrate, here are some examples of vision and mission statements you can compare:
Example #1. Feed America
Vision: A hunger-free America.
Mission: Our mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.
Example #2. Goodwill
Vision: Every person has the opportunity to achieve his/her fullest potential and participate in and contribute to all aspects of life.
Mission: Goodwill works to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.
If you notice, the vision statement usually uses a noun with an adjective, showing us what we want to see. On the other hand, the mission statement usually uses verbs or action words to tell us what needs to be done.
A powerful and persuasive mission statement can spell the difference between success and failure. So how do you craft a mission statement that inspires your team to keep pushing forward?
What Is a Good Mission Statement?
A good mission statement expresses what you intend to do in a clear and understandable way. It usually has the following characteristics:
- Clear: It clearly defines the organization’s goals so that everyone involved will understand.
- Inspirational: A good mission statement inspires employees to do the best they can to stay aligned with the mission.
- Meaningful and relevant: Employees can relate to a good mission statement because they know it directly impacts them.
Mission Statement Examples
To give you an idea of how a mission statement looks, here are some examples from well-known organizations:
- American Red Cross: prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”
- Caterpillar: To enable economic growth through infrastructure and energy development, and to provide solutions that support communities and protect the planet.
- Coca-Cola: To refresh the world in mind, body and spirit. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions
- Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
- Life is Good: To spread the power of optimism.
- LinkedIn: connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful
- Kickstarter: To help bring creative projects to life.
- Microsoft: To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more
- Nordstrom: To give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.”
- Southwest Airlines: Dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.
- Spotify: to unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.
- Squarespace: To empower people with creative ideas to succeed.
- Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time
- TED: Spread ideas.
- Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
- Uber: We ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion.
- Wawa: Fulfilling Lives, Every Day.
- Whole Foods Market: To nourish people and the planet. We’re a purpose-driven company that aims to set the standards of excellence for food retailers. Quality is a state of mind at Whole Foods Market.
How Do You Write a Mission Statement?
Follow these 6 steps to write a mission statement that’s effective and can take you where you want to go. You can also try a mission statement generator to walk you through each step.
1. Have a vision statement in place.
Since a mission statement describes what you need to do to get to where you want to go, you first need to know where that is. So before you can write your mission statement, you must have your vision statement in place.
2. Define your market.
Whom are you serving? Every company needs a specific target audience. Decide on which audience you want to focus on. The target audience can be a demographic area, a certain age group, or an income group.
For example, a company may want to provide resources for parents of preschool-aged children. This means that its focus will be this particular group of people in the community.
One way of doing this is by telling a story of your ideal customer coming into your store or office. Is he a young professional, or an older father? Is she an overworked mother of children under 5? Why are you burdened to serve this audience? This will help you determine your target audience.
3. Describe your contribution.
What products and services do you offer? Usually, you start with defining your contribution for your customers. Oftentimes, this is not limited to the actual products you have for sale. This may include intangible things like:
- excellent customer service
- world-class standards of training and equipping
- a happy experience
After that, you can have an expanded version that explains your contribution for your employees, your owners and if you embrace corporate social responsibility, your contribution for your community.
4. Clarify your uniqueness.
What sets you apart from your competitors? Marketers call this your “unique selling proposition,” or USP.
If your mission statement sounds almost identical with your competitor’s, chances are, you need to find your USP, or what you have to offer that makes you different.
5. Write your first draft.
Now that you have the basic parts of your mission statement, string them together in the following suggested format:
“My mission is to _________ (contribution) for ____________ (target audience) with _______________ (unique selling proposition). “
6. Refine your first draft.
A concise and complete mission statement is not only clear, but it’s easy to remember. At this stage, review the statement you have made and look at it with a critical eye. Remove all unnecessary words, and revise to make it even clearer, if possible.
Then, share it with the members of your organization to get their feedback, and continue to refine it until it sounds right to you and to them.
How to Write a Mission Statement
After you have written down your mission statement, your next step will be to make sure everyone in your organization is aware of it.
Leadership gurus say that overcommunication is key to making sure the vision and mission stick: start posting your vision and mission everywhere possible, and talk about it as much as possible in all your corporate meetings.
Don’t expect everyone to get it all at once, but be patient and consistent in sharing and discussing it with your organization.
Do you have a mission statement? Share it with us in the comments below!