Be it a startup or a company, they need a mission. So they write it down in a mission statement, which you can see on websites, annual reports, or other company reports. It’s not only important for the company’s image in the public eye, but it’s also important to internalize it to the people within the company to make sure they are headed in the right direction.
A clear and thoughtful mission gives employees a sense of purpose, direction, and ownership to achieve company success. A good mission statement focuses on core goals. It emphasizes key policies and values that the company wants to respect. In addition, it also defines the main competitive sphere in which the company operates. Finally, the mission motivates employees to achieve short-to-medium term goals.
What is the definition of a mission statement?
What’s it: A mission statement is a written statement about your company’s mission. Mission explains what your company’s goals are and why your company exists. It supports the vision and provides the framework or context within which your company’s strategy is formulated. It also identifies your company’s operations in terms of the products you offer and your target market.
A mission statement summarizes your company’s main goals and objectives. Through it, you communicate the goals and direction of your business to stakeholders, both internal and external. For example, it becomes a guide to direct your employees on what they can contribute to the company. By having a clear direction, they should be more motivated and eager to achieve company goals.
In essence, a mission statement details your company’s vision as concisely as possible. It should contain the fundamental values and core goals of your company. It should be a statement about your company’s future rather than describing the company’s current position.
Unlike the vision, which rarely changes, the mission may need to be evaluated more frequently to reflect current changes. For example, a dynamic business environment may require you to change business operations. Even if the main reason for your company’s existence has not changed, the methods for achieving your goals may become irrelevant because of the changes. Thus, your company will need to modify its mission to reflect these changes.
Why is a mission statement important?
There are several reasons your company should have a mission statement and why it is important to your company.
Planning. A mission becomes the basic framework for your business plan. With this in mind, you design competitive strategies, plan actions, allocate resources, evaluate whether your company successfully achieves it, and take corrective or adaptive actions considering the dynamics of the business environment in which your company operates.
Harmonization. Internalizing the mission builds togetherness, ensuring everyone is in the same mode for doing work and making strategic decisions.
- In a bottom-up approach, the mission statement can come from a consensus within the company. To formulate it, it requires mutual agreement and synergy between business elements and functions. Thus, when a mission statement has been agreed upon, everyone feels responsible for implementing and making it a success.
Company image. A mission statement is an important element in building your company’s image. It helps the company form an identity by which your company values convey to stakeholders. For this reason, various companies often place it on their websites or sometimes use it in their marketing campaigns.
Business direction. The mission includes a series of short-to-medium-term objectives. It becomes a guide for positioning your company with gradual steps towards the vision you have built. It outlines your company’s goals and guides decision-making and action in achieving your company’s goals. In addition, it also directs your company’s resources and capabilities on the path you want.
What is the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement?
Mission and vision statements must be inspiring and relevant to all stakeholders. Both must form the individuality of the company. I mean, both set your company apart from the competition. Finally, both form the basis for your company to choose and implement a strategy. For this reason, the two are often juxtaposed and, perhaps, used interchangeably.
But, actually, there is a fundamental difference between a vision statement and a mission statement. So here are some of the points.
Content. Vision describes what your company will look like in the future. It explains what your company wants to be in the long term. Meanwhile, the mission explains, “What is your company’s business?”, “Why does your company exist?”
- Vision is the foundation in building your company’s mission. Usually, it’s more abstract. Meanwhile, the mission is more concrete than vision because it describes where your company competes, what you offer, and who you serve.
- Furthermore, vision is more like your company’s dream and what your company is. Meanwhile, the mission contains what your company must do to achieve that dream.
Scope. The vision is company-focused, explaining the inherent potential of your company’s future. Meanwhile, the mission is more directly related to markets, customers, products, and stakeholders. The mission also describes how your company is positioned in the competitive landscape, discusses values and work ethics, and focuses on the current state of your company.
Durability. Missions are more enduring than missions and rarely change even if your business and operating environment change. In contrast, you may have to evaluate your mission more frequently to reflect ongoing changes concerning the market and customers you are targeting.
What are the characteristics of a good mission statement?
A clear mission statement guides everyone in your company towards the same direction and goals. By knowing the purpose and direction of your business, they can contribute more. A good mission statement has the following criteria:
- Determine the main competitive scope in which your company will compete and must excel, including considering your company’s competencies and resources.
- Focus on multiple, achievable, and realistic goals; consistent with your company’s vision.
- Emphasize and be consistent with your company’s policies and core values.
- Define the products, customers, markets, key stakeholders in which your company operates.
- Concise, inspirational, easy to remember, distinctive, and meaningful.
How to write a mission statement?
The following three questions can be a starting point for you to formulate a mission.
- What is your company’s business? You must answer who your customers are, their needs, and how you will meet those needs.
- What do you want your company to look like? It’s not about vision but about positioning and the context in which your business operates and competes. Answering this question requires you to determine what kind of corporate image you want to build in the eyes of stakeholders. It would be better if you also answer how to position the company in the market competition map. What sets your company apart from competitors? Why should stakeholders prefer your company?
- How do you do it? This is your way of answering the two questions above. Then, it helps if you answer to determine what capabilities and resources you need and should build on.
In addition, here I present a sample mission statement, which I hope will inspire you to come up with an idea about the mission you are building:
- Google: “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
- Microsoft: “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
- Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.” [Diringkas]
- Paypal: “To democratize financial services to ensure that everyone, regardless of background or economic standing, has access to affordable, convenient and secure products and services to take control of their financial lives.”
- Starbucks:” To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
- Tesla: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
- The Walt Disney Company: “To entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.