10 Must-Have Features Of The Perfect Mission Statement

December 14, 2017

An ugly term.

Mission statement.

Has there ever been anything more corporate? More suited and booted into stiff white-necked collars? More trapped in the monotonous web of pointless business process?

It bores me hearing it. It bores me writing it.

But the value that hides beneath those two words excites the hell out of me! And it should for you to!

You’ve probably heard the term. A term that’s usually had all of the life and passion sucked out of it by dusty business theory text books.

I’m gonna tell you exactly why you should be excited about it however. Why having one is vital for the success of your (and any) business. And the key elements of a successful statement (so you aren’t just wasting your time!).

Don’t get the wrong end of the mission stick!

Because of the boring stigma attached to mission statements, a lot of businesses don’t even bother create one. They’d rather start with their products and services, their market or their sales pitches.

Let’s face it. It’s much more gratifying in the short term to see some money coming in, directly off the back of whatever you’re doing, than ‘vague’ strategy work with no instant benefit.

But how can you move forward in your business when you don’t know why you’re doing it? You need to do this before you do anything else! You wouldn’t start trekking into the Amazon rainforest without a map (to be fair, even if I had a map, I probably wouldn’t – but that’s another thing entirely! Not a fan of massive, deadly, man-eating/stinging/ripping creatures stalking me).

Even when businesses do take the time to create one, they miss the point.

Boring as hell. Generic and forgettable. Completely pointless.

Because no real thought has gone into them. Usually because they do it to tick a box. Because that’s what they’ve been told they need to have. Not because they WANT to have one.

Not just for the big boys!

People get confused and put off by mission statements as they’re usually waffled about in the same breath as multi-national corporations.

Only massive brands should have a mission statement. Only companies with thousands of employees should have a mission statement.

They just aren’t necessary for startups and solopreneur businesses.

WRONG.

In fact, a mission statement is even more important for small businesses, and the best time to create one. Before you grow. Before you create your empire.

EVERY business needs to have one, no matter the size, no matter the niche, no matter the audience.

Do you know why you exist?

Now this is a better way to put it.

Your mission statement is your purpose. Your reason for being.

It should act as your guide. A mantra that everything you do in your business – every product you create, every email you send, every piece of content you write, every interaction with your audience – should be directed by it.

If what you do doesn’t fit with your mission, then don’t do it.

It’ll be a valuable sense of direction for every decision you have to make.

That’s a powerful thing to have!

Clarity and purpose. A guiding principle that keeps your business consistent and always moving in the right direction.

So, let’s have a look at the 10 elements that all incredible mission statements have!

1. Tell your story

People relate to and are captivated by stories. Who you are, where you began, where you’re going. We all seek to understand people, businesses. The more we understand something, the more we can judge if we like it. The more we like something, the more we trust it. And the more we trust a person or a business, the more we’re likely to listen to what they say and buy what they sell.

2. Make it personal

To you and to your audience. Starting with you, it needs to be a true reflection of who you ARE and what your business DOES. Not who you want to be and what your business should be doing. Be completely honest with yourself on this. It must be completely representative of who you are now.

It must also be relative to your audience. Their wants. Their needs. Their problems. If they can see themselves in it, then you’re on the right track.

3. Say it like they’d say it

A lot of ‘business gurus’ tell you to keep it simple. Use simple language. But I’m not happy with that. I’d much rather tailor it my audience. Use the words and terminology they use. Your language will be completely different if you ran a business aimed at aspiring creative writers than senior aerospace engineers.

If your entire audience uses and accepts certain jargon, and it’s right to include it. Then include it. Just make sure it resonates with them.

4. Keep it short

No-one likes a thesis. We’re all up for instant, easy answers. And it’s no different with your mission statement. In fact, the shorter it is, the easier it is to read, digest and remember. Anywhere from 10 to 20 words is the sweet spot really. Less than that, and you’re probably getting a little vague. More than that and you’ll bore the crap out of people.

5. Make it actionable

Don’t be wishy-washy. Be concrete. Make it something that you CAN do. Day in, day out. It needs to be grounded in reality and be absolutely practical. It should be something that your audience can recognize that you’re doing in every part of your business. In every activity you do.

6. Always deliver on it

This one goes without saying, but your mission is your promise to your audience. Making promises to your audience is vital in building trust and credibility. And you need to keep them! Don’t be afraid of making promises, be afraid of breaking them.

Make sure that in everything you do, every time, you’re always living up to the promise and values held in your mission statement. There’s no point in creating this amazing sounding statement if you can never live up to it. It’ll do you much more harm than good in the long run.

7. Polarize people

You’ll never be able to please everyone. And you shouldn’t want to. Pick a niche. Pick an audience. And talk directly to them. Screw everyone else. They don’t matter to your business. So you shouldn’t care about what they think, say or feel about what you do and what you stand for.

Sounds harsh right? But it’s the only way to go from mediocre getting by, to exponential success. If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no-one. Always be clear and confident in what you do, who you are and more importantly, what you don’t do and who you’re not! The audience that you want to talk to will love you more for it.

8. Look at the bigger picture

You’re trying to make an impact in people’s lives. To the way the world does something. To break the status quo. Think about the bigger picture around your business. Yes you’re there to sell people your products and service. Yes you’re there to make money. But what good do you bring to the world? What’s the change for the better you want to see?

Be aspirational, be inspirational and dream big. If we as entrepreneurs can’t be bold in our vision, then who can?

9. Create a game-changer

Be different! Know your competition and go where they don’t. Be what they won’t. Do it better, faster, more in-depth, more specific, more bespoke, with more passion, with more style. Be that single point of difference within your industry and shout about it. That’s why people will come to you and ultimately become loyal to you.

Your mission statement needs to call this out. How are you better than anyone else out there? What is it you do? How do you do it?

10. Start a movement

If you get the previous 9 elements in, you’ll have an epic mission statement to guide your business and brand. And you will start a movement. People will believe in you. Will trust you. And will spread the word about you getting others to join your cause.

If your reason for existing is worthy enough, your audience will follow.

It’s not set in stone!

So you now know that a mission statement is vital to your brand, no matter where you are on your business journey.

You know it’s your true purpose. The what, why and how you do things. The reason why your business exists.

It should be a true reflection of you and the audience you are trying to attract. And it must inspire all to action. To deliver a constant, specific experience and result, day in, day out.

But it will change.

As your business evolves, so to will your mission. It’s completely natural for that to happen.

You’ll start using new technologies, opening up to new niches, focusing on new audiences etc.

It should never be a complete re-write, but there will be amends over time. Just make sure that it doesn’t happen to often. It should only be a result of your business naturally changing, not a flippant mind.

Always use it to capture your ambition, to embody the spirit of your brand and to guide everything you do.

A little tip...

To create an impactful, actionable and inspiring mission statement, you need to know exactly who you are and exactly who your audience are. It takes time, but is absolutely necessary to the success of your business.

What’s your mission?

Tell me about your mission. Have the above points helped you create one if you didn’t have one already or re-look at an existing one? What part of this article gave your brain a nice tickle?

Let me know in the comments section below!