How to ensure your mission statement is worth the paper it’s written on

How do you feel about your company’s mission statement? Do you know it off by heart? Is it framed, sitting on your desk, before you at all times? Do you even know what it is? Heather Foley, a consultant at ETS, a UK based HR consultancy and technology specialist, tells us how to make sure your mission statement is worth the paper it's written on.

Mission statements are considered critical to every company and should be at the forefront of each employee’s mind.  Yet, so often, they are a source of anything ranging from ridiculous to irrelevant. 

What exactly are mission statements?  Definitions abound, but they are generally considered to be published statements that outline the company’s goals and purpose, whilst also providing a path to follow, aiding all decision-making.  How do you achieve all of this in one statement? The answer can be pretty straightforward: by focusing on three key questions.

1. Why?

Start by asking yourself why you are in business at all. 

It could be argued that the goal of every business is to make money, but your mission statement should also give a sense of the spirit in which you plan to make that money.  Thus, Microsoft, for example, states that its mission is to “enable people and businesses throughout the world to realise their full potential”.  Microsoft sees its goal as enabling people. That’s their answer to ‘why we’re in this’.

Why do you want your business to make money? Entrepreneurs are no doubt keen to make money, but listening to them speak about their businesses often also reveals how passionate they are to make a difference or to carve out a full and interesting life.  You need to start thinking about why you’re in business. 

2. What? 

Next, think about specifically what it is you want your business to focus on.

In its mission statement, Apple is committed to bringing “the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings”.   Here, Apple describes ‘what’ they want to focus on. This is essential if their employees are to avoid wasting time on unrelated projects.

You need to ask yourself ‘what exactly are we going to focus on?’  This sharpness of vision will ensure that all your people are united, with a common goal.

3. Where?

Finally, think about where you want your business to position itself.

Google’s mission is to “organise the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. The specific focus of this mission statement answers the question ‘where?’  Google set out, and succeeded, in becoming a global player.  Is that right for your business, though?  Perhaps you want to be the best accountancy firm in the North East?  Or perhaps the best fish restaurant in the South?  Whichever it is, be specific so that you can focus your efforts and give yourself the best chance of success.

When written well, mission statements are invaluable.  They provide a framework for all that you’re trying to achieve.  Without them, your business could be lacking in goals, and without goals, you could be facing real problems because, in the words of Henry Ford, problems “are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal”. Let your new mission statement set out your goal.

 

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Smarta Formations is the quickest and easiest way for you to register your limited company. All the hard work is handled for you. 

 

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