Whether you’re just starting a business or looking to improve the way you communicate about an existing business, you’ve surely heard and read about the importance of a mission statement.
Before we go through the details, let’s focus on that first word: “mission”.
Beyond your business concept, plan, capital, day-to-day operations and financial forecasts, what is your mission?
Why did you get involved with this business in the first place?
We often picture a “company” as only that independent, separate legal entity that exists as its own ‘“legal person”. What about that company representing simply the company you keep? Have you thought about the individuals that make your company what it is and how important they are to you and your business? How does each individual fit into your overall mission?
Starting with your own company on the level of each individual employee – how do you wish to impact the world around you?
You may have heard of impact investing and the concept of “Benefit Corporations” and companies that track social and environmental impact. However, it’s important to see the process of improving the way we do business beyond just words on paper and distant, abstract, concepts. We all have an impact on the individuals, communities and environments that surround us in all their forms. What is important is our awareness of that impact and the mechanisms we put in place to track our influence, impact and results.
How is your mission statement connected to all of this? Crafting a compelling mission statement is a process. I’ll focus on the word compelling because your goal must be to motivate both your target audience – your current and future customers and clients – and also the individuals who make your company what it is. Your employees must also be motivated to realise the goals outlined by your mission statement. The first step in ensuring this happens is by getting them involved.
To craft a meaningful mission statement, you must ask the right questions of everyone involved in moving your company forward. Obtain feedback from your fellow company members, directors, managers, leadership and also from your employees at all levels.
Whether you’re writing your first mission statement or re-formulating your existing one, you can try this exercise:
- Ask yourself and other company leadership:
- What do we do for our customers or clients? What problems do we solve for them and what solutions do we offer?
- What do we do for our employees and all other members of our team?
- What do we do for our shareholders and managing members?
- Then ask the same questions of your co-workers and employees. You don’t need to ask everyone – just choose several to include in a team-based project that includes:
- Managers and supervisors
- Sales and customer service representatives
- Workers that deal with manufacturing, processing, fulfillment or some other form of delivering a final product to a customer
- Once you’ve surveyed everyone – you can get a better idea of where you are now and compare it to where you want to be. Then, start to craft a mission statement that will motivate everyone to achieve the goals set by it.
Parts of a mission statement:
Some companies keep a mission statement short and sweet: up to one paragraph.
Others display their mission statements on an entire page of their website.
Others, like Lenka’s Garden, one of our investee companies, segment it to include:
- a short and to-the-point mission, “To develop and nurture unique products and initiatives across the agricultural, technological and retail landscapes that reduce or eliminate harmful chemicals, solve economic challenges and respect natural processes.”
- a more descriptive element of the mission statement itself, which includes goals: “We endeavor to contribute to the growth and overall happiness and well-being of each individual our efforts impact. Our multifaceted venture ensures that positive social and environmental impact beyond financial return can be measured and scaled to produce even greater and more meaningful results.”
Lenka’s Garden then continues with specifics regarding what the company does and its commitments to society and the environment.
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