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When you’re first starting a business, writing a mission statement may seem like a challenge, but it can be pretty simple: Your business’s mission statement articulates why your company exists and what it aims to achieve. Understanding how to write a mission statement can help you deliver that message effectively.
You might notice that there are a lot of formulaic guides out there about how to write a mission statement. Your mission statement may be part of your business plan, but there’s no single formula or template for writing a mission statement. Every business owner’s mission statement will be unique to them, as it’s a reflection of the owner’s intention when they first created their business (albeit a version that’s polished, edited, and suitable for use as a marketing asset), and the value they aim to add to their customers’ lives.
So the good news is that you can be creative during this process. And the more authentic you are—and, in the vast majority of cases, the less jargon you use—the more your mission statement will resonate with your customers, employees, and other owners.
With that in mind, the following six steps will help you organize your thoughts and approach writing your mission statement with confidence. We’ll go over the definition of a mission statement, what a mission statement should include, and provide real mission statement examples that work well.
Your mission statement explains, briefly and concisely, the mission you first set out to accomplish when you started your business. Your mission statement should also make clear how you’re unique to your competition, hint at your business strategy, reflect your core values and ethics, and take your universal or longer-term business goals into account.
If you’re starting a daycare, for instance, your mission might be to provide safe, flexible, and affordable childcare and children’s education for parents in your community. If you’re starting a wedding planning business, your mission may be to provide hands-on, personalized support to busy spouses-to-be who don’t have the bandwidth to deal with crazy wedding logistics. Your mission statement is simply a polished and cohesive version of that essential purpose.
Some version of your mission statement will usually be featured on your website in the “About” section, and in job postings, marketing supplements, and your business plan—usually under the company overview section. It’s one of the business fundamentals that you’ll find will have many uses as you grow your business.
Although your mission statement may feel obvious or intuitive to you, it can be hard to put that into words and figure out how to write a mission statement. But, as momentum picks up on your business launch, and as your staff, customer base, and product or service offerings evolve, it’s important to revisit your mission statement so you never lose sight of what author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek calls your “why,” or your purpose.
In his TED Talk, Sinek explains that effective leaders—whether in business, politics, or the arts—succeed because they make all decisions, big or small, based on that root purpose. Sinek asks: “What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?”
When thinking about how to write a mission statement, address Sinek’s crucial existential questions. When you’re making your own business decisions, hiring first employees, communicating with clients and stakeholders, and developing your company culture, you can refer back to your mission statement to ensure that you remain in alignment with your core purpose and beliefs.
Often, business owners (or marketers) boil down their mission statements to a couple of sentences, or even a few words, and include that simple statement on all external marketing materials. This version of your mission statement should be clearly displayed on your business website, social media channels, and print materials. That way, your customers understand your value (and values), just as your employees understand why they come into the office every day—and, importantly, why you continue to give your business your all, day in and day out.
That said, when it comes to how to write a mission statement, it doesn’t have to be much more than a paragraph long. Some outward- and inward-facing mission statements are one in the same. But you might choose to add an employee- or shareholder-specific component to your full mission statement that customers wouldn’t necessarily need or want to see.
Beyond that, a mission statement has real utilitarian value, as it’s one component of a comprehensive business plan. You’ll need that roadmap in hand for your own purposes when you launch, and to share with potential lenders and investors.
When you’re writing a mission statement, keep in mind that its succinct nature will offer a clear path forward for your business model generation—and should help investors see that path, too.
Now that you understand why a mission statement is important at a high level, we’ll dive into the details about how to write a mission statement.
Don’t expect to produce a totally polished and publishable mission statement as soon as you put pen to paper (or fingers to keys). If you’re stressed out about how to write a mission statement, try “free writing” about your business instead.
As we’ve mentioned, your mission statement conveys your business’s “why.” What problem did you seek to solve when you started your business? Why was this particular problem important for you to take on? What inspired you to start your business? And how does your product or service solve that problem better than your competition does?
If you have or plan on hiring employees, touch on the vision of the working environment you aim to provide for them, as well. What kinds of people comprise your team, and how do they align with your business’s overall values?
At this stage, you’re simply gathering your thoughts and pointing yourself in the direction of a finished mission statement. The most important thing is to generate the raw material; you can hone and edit from there.
Next, you can get a little more granular and explain exactly what product or service your company provides, focusing on how your particular product or service provides value for your target customer. This explanation should touch on your larger mission and how your business differs from others like yours, either explicitly or implicitly. Keep this short, concise, and specific.
For example, let’s take a look at our hypothetical wedding consultant example. If that’s you, you could write that you provide couples with wedding consulting and planning services, as well as day-of coordination. Your services can be personalized according to the couple’s particular needs and wishes. This thoughtful, bespoke level of service puts busy couples without the time or desire to handle planning and logistics at ease, so they can truly enjoy their big day.
Your mission statement will ultimately be an important piece of customer-facing marketing material, so it has to articulate who your business serves, why someone should choose to work with you, and what you can do for your customers.
Start by describing your ideal customer: What are their general demographics? What do their professional and personal lives look like? What problems or challenges are they facing? How do they find new businesses or products (i.e., Instagram, word of mouth, or another marketing tactic)? How do you want your customers to feel when they use your product or service?
On the flip side, you can consider the types of customers your business wouldn’t be best suited for. This is also known as creating a buyer persona, and it’ll help you hone in on who your target market is, and how to fashion your mission statement so that it resonates with their particular needs and desires.
This probably won’t appear verbatim in your final mission statement, but it’ll help you hone in on what you do, why you do it, and the unique value you bring to your customers’ lives.
Your mission statement should convey your business’s values and ethics as much as it does your literal product or service.
Let’s use that daycare center owner as an example. Your business’s core values might be flexibility and an accessible price point for parents with demanding or unusual working hours; providing children with a creative, nurturing, and cooperative environment; and perhaps specializing or focusing on a particular subject, such as art, music, or group projects.
This is as important for your customers to understand as it is for your current and prospective employees, as well as key stakeholders like lenders, investors, and other owners. Those core values shape your company culture, offer your current employees both an ethical and goal-oriented guidepost, attract the right employees, and help those lenders and investors understand your larger, longer-term goals (and why they should invest in your business).
If reading about how to write a mission statement still leaves you feeling stuck or lost, you can always consult the brands you admire to get a sense of how they approached their statements. Typically, brands include their mission statements on the “About,” “Our Story,” or “Our Mission” page of their websites.
Here are just a few mission statements we admire from successful brands. Note that some of these mission statement examples are longer than what we’ve included here, so if one resonates with you, we’d recommend heading directly to their website to read the full statement.
We’ve noted that your mission statement should reflect your business’s purpose and goals, and that you should be authentic—but don’t mistake your mission statement for an essay, op-ed, or journal entry. At its core, your mission statement is a marketing asset. That means it should be relatively short and concise.
Once you’ve written to your heart’s content, try to cut your statement down to a few paragraphs. Then, try to condense it even further so you can easily use this one- or two-liner in your marketing materials; think of this as the elevator pitch version of a more comprehensive mission statement.
Get some readers on board, too. If you have employees, run your mission statement by them to gauge their opinion (after all, this is as much for them as it is for you and your customers). Also consider sharing your mission statement with your advisors and even trusted customers to ensure that your statement accurately portrays your business and reflects your long-term goals.
In the beginning, you may be tempted to bump writing a mission statement to the bottom of your very, very long starting-a-business checklist. But the very start of your venture is arguably the most auspicious time to write your mission statement. Right now, you’re deeply in touch with your business’s “why”—otherwise, you wouldn’t be putting in the hard work of starting your business at all. That motivating purpose underlies your mission statement.
As you grow and evolve, you’ll be grateful that you took the time to put that passion and energy into words. Use it as a kind of ethical guidepost as you and your team face increasingly challenging decisions over your business’s lifetime. Plus, your mission statement will be an important marketing tool that you’ll use both to draw in potential customers and employees.
And keep in mind that your mission statement isn’t an essay—in fact, that’s pretty much the opposite of what it should be! Your finished mission statement should be a few paragraphs at an absolute maximum.
Either way, we hope this guide on how to write a mission statement has helped you understand how truly approachable this process is. Happy writing!