You’re tired. Your employees are checked out. Your staff meetings feel stale. And your to-do list is running off the page. You stare at your desk and wonder, What’s the point? Well, that’s actually a great question—and one only you (as the leader of your business) can answer. And you should answer it with a company mission statement.
Saying who you are and why you’re here out loud has some life-changing power in it. You see, business owners have a unique opportunity to create work that matters, which is so much more than just a J-O-B. With a clear idea of what you do and why you do it (aka a mission statement), you can inspire your team and your customers—and actually get more stuff done. But without that on paper you’re bound to get lost, bored or make some poor business decisions.
What Is a Company Mission Statement?
A company mission statement simply answers the question, “Why does our organization exist?” It’s one or two sentences that say what you do and why you do it. It clearly defines who you are as a business, which also helps you figure out something just as important: who you aren’t.
How to Write a Company Mission Statement in 5 Steps
So, how do you build your company mission statement? First, this isn’t a one-meeting, two-hour event—you should commit some time to the process. We know, we know—you’re busy! But trust us, a bunch of fancy words on slapped on a website won’t make a dent in the marketplace if you haven’t put your heart (and your head) behind it. Second, you need to put it on paper, on purpose. It won’t make any difference to the rest of your team or your customers if this just lives in your head. Third, as your company and the marketplace change, it’s okay to change your mission statement too.
With those things in mind, follow these five simple steps to write a company mission statement that’ll clearly define the purpose for your business and have you so pumped to get to work you’ll be sleeping with your shoes on.
Define your purpose (your why).
Before you write a mission statement for your business, you need to come up with one for yourself. This sounds simple, but it’s not easy. Ask yourself, What’s my purpose? What do I want to accomplish in life? This is important because your personal mission statement should align with your company’s mission statement. If you just can’t find a way to make the two connect, you need to rethink some things—because life is too short to run a business you hate.
Bestselling author and speaker Simon Sinek said it well: “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” Find out what you love to do and then do that thing.
Once you have a rough idea of your personal mission, think about why your business exists and what you want it to accomplish. For example, Ramsey Solutions provides biblically based, commonsense education and empowerment that give HOPE to everyone in every walk of life. The why is to give hope. Why does Dave Ramsey write books about the right ways to handle money? To give people hope. Why do we help business owners win? To give them hope—you get the idea!
Describe what your company does well.
Don’t overthink this. What is the thing your company does really, really well? If there are a lot of things, list them out and then look for a common theme or purpose. At EntreLeadership, for example, we sell books, make educational videos, and host events, but the whole point of all those things is to help business owners grow their businesses—to help them win.
Get specific about how you accomplish your purpose.
This is not about the day-to-day operation of your business—it’s about the way you go about accomplishing your purpose. For example, do you inspire, educate or empower? Do you help, serve or organize? If you own a summer camp, you’re not “providing quality lodgings for middle school students,” you’re “inspiring the next generation’s love of the great outdoors.” Get specific but don’t get too operational.
Remember less is more.
A mission statement filled with buzzwords and a mile-long list of things your company does won’t do anybody any good. Just focus on the main thing, and do that thing really well.
State why you’re different in the marketplace.
One of the most valuable things a mission statement can do for your business is to clearly say what makes your business unique. A good exercise is to start by defining who you aren’t, and then move on to what sets you apart from everyone else.
You may go through several drafts before you’ve got the wording just right, and that’s okay. Just get your mission statement on paper, on purpose because you’re more likely to accomplish something if you write it down.
What Is the Difference Between a Mission Statement and a Vision Statement?
Mission statements and vision statements should go hand in hand. A vision statement describes where your business is headed. It’s a dream that could become real—a massive goal that will impact the world. And like we already talked about, a mission statement says why you’re doing what you’re doing. LinkedIn did a great job of tying their mission and vision together and making them meaningful:
Vision: To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.
Mission: To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful1.
Bottom line? Mission statements are about why, and vision statements are about where you’re headed. Together they can point you and your team in the right direction.
What Should a Mission Statement Accomplish?
Dan Miller is a nationally recognized career coach and author of 48 Days to the Work You Love. He always pushes individuals and organizations to stop and decide what they’re about before they get back to being about it. He says without a really good mission statement you might get to the top of the ladder only to find it’s leaning against the wrong building. What he means is, your mission statement should clearly define your dreams and vision so you know your hard work is aimed at the right target.
It should also help you make better decisions for your business. How? Well, you’ve got a North Star to come back to, reminding you what your business is supposed to be about. That’ll help you rule out opportunities that don’t line up with your mission. At Ramsey Solutions, everything we do is rooted in the mission statement. And if a new idea doesn’t fit, we won’t use it—even if it has the potential to be profitable.
A meaningful mission statement can change the future of your business. You’ll spend a third of your life at work—that’s right, a third of your life. Nobody wants to spend all that time doing something that doesn’t really matter to them. But when work’s connected to the things that matter most to you, there’s drive, fulfillment, and a chance to make a group of random strangers suddenly feel like a team—and like that team can really make a difference in the world. If that doesn’t get you fired up, we don’t know what will!
As you work through your mission statement, something else will happen: You’ll start to discover your company values. Company values guide how you and your employees behave, how you do things as a team. They help you create a healthy culture and hire the right people—which are both essential to growing your business. If you haven’t written your values down on paper, check out our core values guide to get started. With a meaningful mission statement and values guiding your company culture, you’ll grow a business where you don’t just do work—you do work that matters.