What is a Mission Statement?
A mission statement is a brief description of why a company or nonprofit organization exists. In one to three sentences, it explains what the company does, who it serves, and what differentiates it from competitors. It’s used to provide focus, direction, and inspiration to employees while it tells customers or clients what to expect from the business.
A mission statement is often part of a business plan.
Mission Statement Examples
The best mission statements are clear, concise, and memorable. Here are a few examples:
- TED: Spread ideas.
- Google: Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
- Walmart: We save people money so they can live better.
How to Write a Mission Statement
Well-crafted mission statements:
- Identify the organization’s target market, audience, or customers.
- Say what makes the business unique or provides its competitive advantage.
- Are realistic and reasonable rather than grandiose or lofty.
- Are relevant, specific, and believable.
- Inspire employees.
- Are short and to the point. One study of 50 nonprofit mission statements found average length to be 15 words.
While a mission statement shouldn’t be written in isolation by one person if the organization employs many people, it’s not a job for a committee, either. Leaders often ask a few employees to write one sentence that summarizes what the company does and stands for. They compare them, looking for similarities, differences, and surprises. They use that input to craft a statement that is honest and accurate rather than something the company aspires to achieve.
Testing the statement with employees before sharing it internally or externally helps generate useful feedback. Does it ring true? What would they change? Employees are the most important audience for the mission statement because they will need to “walk the talk,” so it needs to resonate with them.
How to Use the Mission Statement
How the statement is used depends on the size and nature of the business. Smaller businesses might post it where all employees can see it or include it on computer screensavers as a regular reminder. Some companies share it in marketing materials – on the website, in the company description in marketing literature, and in advertisements.
How it’s used, however, is less important than whether the statement is accurate and realistic, and whether employees and management use it to guide strategy and decisions.