CHAPTER EIGHT: Part B – This is where you discuss why your business exists or should exist, what you hope to accomplish, and what you actually stand for.
Are you currently writing a business plan? If YES, here’s an in-depth guide and sample template on how to write a workable mission & vision statement for a business.
A vision and mission statement are some of the most important requisite for business success and sustainability, but unfortunately, most entrepreneurs and small business owners run their business without these two thing out of ignorance.
What is a Mission and Vision Statement?
A mission and vision statement (more commonly called a mission statement or a vision statement) is a brief sentence that declares the goals that a business plans to achieve in the future. Like a compass guides a ship, it guides a business to success by providing continuously inspiring its stakeholders in their daily operations and strategic moves.
A mission statement helps you plan your business effectively. It provides the destination for your journey to business success. Of course, without a destination, you can’t plan a route. Before we discuss the steps involved in developing a mission statement for your business, let’s look at the components of a mission statement and why you really need a mission statement for your business.
Today, I will be sharing with you an underground secret to building a business from scratch. This secret is one of the contributing factors to the success of any business; yet, it’s often ignored. This secret is nothing more than a “Business Mission Statement.”
“The thing I really care about is the mission; making the world open.” – Mark Zuckerberg
The importance of a mission statement can never be over emphasized. I have seen so many startups without a mission; even some established firms also make the mistake of operating without a mission.
“Being an entrepreneur, I have come to realize that all successful businesses are driven by three fundamentals. One is the cash flow, two is the team and three is the mission. Of these three, the mission is the most important.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
Now what has a mission statement got to do with building a business? What’s the impact of a mission statement on an entrepreneur undergoing the entrepreneurial process? Is a mission statement a source of competitive advantage? While I am not going to answer these questions directly, the following points will help you further understand why you need to develop a mission statement for your business?
Why Your Business needs a Mission Statement
1. The mission is the foundation on which your business will be built. It’s the true purpose of your business and that purpose is reflected in the mission statement. Without a strong mission statement, you don’t have a true business. All you have is just a profit making venture that will soon be wiped out with time.
“To turn really interesting ideas and fledging ideas into a company that can continue to innovate for years, it requires a lot of disciplines.” – Steve Jobs
2. The entrepreneurial spirit is found in the mission statement. When I look at the mission statement of any business, I get a peep into the life of the entrepreneur that founded that business. The entrepreneurial spirit is what drives the entrepreneur forward. If the mission is strong, your spirit will be strong towards the pursuit of your goal.
“The IKEA spirit is strong and living reality. Simplicity in our behavior gives us strength. Simplicity and humbleness characterize us in our relations with each others, our suppliers and our customers.” – Ingvar Kamprad
3. Your mission statement is the bond binding you, your team, employees and your customers to the business. Take away the mission and other key elements will fall apart. Your mission also has the power to attract other like-minded individuals and entities to your cause. The reason is that people with the same mission align together; more like birds of the same feather flocking together.
4. With a strong mission, your business will weather any storm. Take a look at businesses that has been around for over 100 years and you will see businesses with a strong mission. As an example:
- General Electric has stood the test of time because the spirit of its founder “Thomas Edison” continues to guide the company through its mission.
- Henry Ford’s mission statement was: “To democratize the automobile” and that mission has kept the Ford Motor Company going.
- Aliko Dangote’s mission statement goes: “Providing your basic need” and this mission drives the Dangote Group to dominate the commodities market of
- The Rich Dad Company; founded by Robert Kiyosaki keeps waxing strong because of its mission, which is “To elevate the financial well being of humanity.”
By contrast; I have come to observe that when a company forgets its mission, its starts to lose its relevance. The bond holding the business will be broken and good customers will leave, employees will resign and the business will dwindle. Just as the case of the Dot com burst, many profitable Dot com companies went under because they forgot their mission.
3 Components of a Mission and Vision Statement
1. A vision
This, simply put, states the impact you envision your business having on the world in years to come. You can have more than a single statement in here, but don’t go beyond three. Gloss it over to make sure anyone who reads it feels at least one of inspiration, hope, commitment, and awe. In addition, your vision statement must be compelling, detailed, and reflective of the intended end outcome. Avoid one that is bland, generic, uninspiring, or unreasonable. An example of a good vision statement is that of Amazon:
“Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
2. A mission statement
This is a brief statement that states the important goal or purpose that your business is poised to achieve. In other words, it’s a single sentence stating why your business exists in a convincing manner. Keep your mission statement specific and concise (the shorter it is, the better), make it connect with both employees and stakeholders, and make it highlight your value proposition. Don’t make it too long, generic, or confusing. An example of a good mission statement is that of Nike:
“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
Here’s another example of a mission statement:
“To contribute to development of value-added agricultural businesses.”
3. Core values
These outline the principles and values that the stakeholders in a business will follow in their bid to achieve their vision. They also specify the bounds or limits that the stakeholders must watch while trying to actualize the mission. The following are examples of core values:
- Respect and protect the environment
- Offer high quality products that are safe for consumers
- Meet the ever-changing needs of consumers
- Practice highly ethical business standards
If your business is going to stand the test of time, then you will have to build it upon a strong mission. With the above in mind, let’s now look at the steps involved in developing a mission and visions statement.
How to Write a Mission and Vision Statement for a Business Plan
Please bear in mind that you are learning as much of yourself each day as you are about your customer. So, don’t feel that anything you state here is etched in stone and cannot be changed. The more you understand your customer and the market, the more necessary it would become for you to shift grounds accordingly.
But you need to state here what you have to offer at the moment. This will be a starting point for any changes you may need to effect later (as your business grows).
1. Sit down in a quiet spot and reflect upon your thoughts. Ask yourself what drives you forward? What keeps you motivated? When you have figured out the answer to these questions, put it down in writing.
2. Ask yourself how best you can serve your customers. What will your business stand for in the heart of your customers? What will be the ultimate benefit your customers can derive from your business? When you figure the answer to these questions out, put it down in writing.
3. Brainstorm for your vision statement
The vision is the most important component of your mission statement. Simply put, this is a picture or idea of what you plan to achieve in future. A vision statement is always concise and easy to remember, and for this reason, every stakeholder in a business can easily focus on it; and their decisions and activities are directed towards achieving the vision. Here is a good example of a vision statement:
“Creating a vibrant rural economy driven by value-added agriculture.“
Once you get one down, then getting other components becomes very easy. To find the best vision statement for your business, simply ask yourself the question, “Why does this business exist?” Present answers from various angles, and you will find your mission statement among them.
4. Get down your mission statement
As stated earlier, your mission statement is that action sentence that describes how you will achieve your vision. Finding this is much easier once you have found your vision statement. If you are stuck, just do it this way: If your vision is “A diabetes-free society”, then simply add the word “To” and another suitable verb to convert it to an action sentence. And there you will have your mission statement.
Using the same vision, you will get “To bring about a diabetes-free society.” You can go further by tweaking it, so that you will have something like: “To manufacture products that can cure diabetes effectively and permanently.” You get it now?
5. List your core values
First off, you need to clarify your values. This means taking into account all the various stakeholders that your business is (or will be) accountable to—including investors, customers, employees, and suppliers. Now, consider how you would like to ideally conduct business with each of these stakeholders. Start making a list and your core values should start to emerge.
These are the various steps you will follow in your quest to achieve your vision. Brainstorm for as many as possible, list them down, and the prune your list down to as few as possible without leaving out any important ones. Now, let’s look at some additional tips that you will need to keep in mind when preparing your mission and vision statement.
4 Extra Success Tips for Developing a Business Plan Mission and Vision Statement
- Your mission statement must be brief and simple. Being succinct as demanded by a mission statement isn’t easy. And you may need to go through several hours of tweaking and editing before arriving at the perfect sentence. Though short, your mission statement must capture the very essence of what your business plans to achieve. The fewer words the better. Use just only the few words needed to pass the message without leaving out any vital details.
- Your mission statement must be in tune with your vision, and both sentences must blend to form a single thought.
- There’s no rule that says you must get it perfectly at once. You can keep review your mission statement later, if necessary.
- Your mission and vision statements must give the reader an insight, a covert one, at least into what you offer. This is more important if the name of your business doesn’t suggest what products or services you’re offering.
If you follow the guidelines I shared in this post, you will prepare a perfect vision and mission statement that will drive your business to success. Now I want you to know that no one can help you develop a mission statement. You alone can develop your mission and as a final note, it’s worthwhile you know that of the entire business system, the mission is the most important.