Ten Tips for Writing an Effective Mission Statement

As the head of your company, you are the one who really knows how your business works — and the one who needs to tell the world just what makes your business so special. Writing an effective, engaging, and clearly defined mission statement is the best way to announce your company’s goals to customers, clients, investors, and even employees.

Your mission statement is the best vehicle to get the word out about the “why” and the “wow” behind your company. In truth, your mission statement is no less important than your business plan. It needs to explain — eloquently, succinctly, and passionately — the core reasons for your business’s existence. Your mission statement should inspire others to want to know more about your ideas, helping to position your company in the marketplace and to fuel growth.

Here are 10 effective mission statement writing tips to help you get started:

  1. Ask yourself the right questions. To begin, ask yourself these questions: What business are you in? Why are you in this business? What do you want for yourself, your family, and your customers? What are the three or four objectives or attributes that define you? Think about the spark of excitement that initially ignited your desire to open a business in the first place. What will keep it burning?
  2. Say it clearly. Your mission statement needs to clearly state your business goals and objectives. It should explain what the business is, what special niche it inhabits in the marketplace, and how it will make a difference in the lives of customers and clients.
  3. Decide what makes you different. Never forget that you are pursuing the same customer dollars as your competitors. How do you stand out from those other companies? Ask yourself if it’s because you do something better, cheaper, or faster than the other guy. Identify any underlying philosophies or values that guide your company.
  4. Build your brand. Use your mission statement to build your unique brand. Make sure to communicate your business’s key value to the customer or client segment you serve.
  5. Keep it short and sweet. Remember: brevity is the soul of wit. A strong mission statement shouldn’t ramble on endlessly. Ideally, you should be able to summarize your company’s mission in a few sentences. Consider it your elevator pitch. You should be able to state your company’s mission succinctly in the time it takes to ride an elevator from the ground floor to the top floor.
  6. Be honest. Make sure that when you read your own mission statement, it reflects what you truly believe. Too much pomp and self-congratulatory language will turn off those who read it, so avoid saying that your company is the “best” at this or the “world leader” at that.
  7. Make it a joint effort. Even if you are the sole proprietor of your business, don’t write your mission statement in a vacuum. It’s incredibly helpful to get the input of others, both inside and outside the company. Collaborators can help you to better see the strengths and weaknesses of your mission statement. Ask for the input of employees, family, and friends, and perhaps even clients with whom you may have a very close professional relationship.
  8. Polish the language. See to it that you have several pairs of eyes (ideally belonging to wordy, editor types) to go over your mission statement many times until every word sizzles. Your mission statement should be error-free, eloquent, and precise. It should be dynamic and inspirational. In short, it should be as close to perfect as you can get it.
  9. Spread the word. Once your mission statement is complete, start sharing it by posting it everywhere you can. It should be prominently displayed on the company’s Web site, as well as in brochures and other marketing collateral. You can even consider adding it to the bottom of company e-mails or sending it out as a press release. Be creative in getting the word out.
  10. Revise as needed. Your mission statement, as wonderful as it might sound now, should not be set in stone. As your business grows and changes, so too might your company’s mission. Revisit your mission statement on a regular basis to evaluate whether it should be revised or updated. If you’ve hit the nail on the head the first time around, you probably shouldn’t need to alter it significantly as time goes by.