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What Drives You?
The Best Mission Statements Start With These 3 Questions
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Jennifer Bewley
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In the simplest terms, a company’s mission statement is a declaration of your business’ purpose. It's a vision that needs to convey what you do as well as inspire a general audience of customers, users, employees and investors to join you. It's the one business statement that defines your entire strategy, and it's only a sentence or two long.

“Mission statements shouldn’t just be text on a website. It needs to work for your company, and your company needs to work to earn it,” said Brad Flowers, founding partner of branding agency, Bullhorn Creative.

The best mission statement examples are clear, concise and full of vision. Like Flowers says, it's a crucial part of your business and needs to be created with care. When you're creating your company mission statement (or even your personal mission statement), there are a few questions you can start with to help formulate your strategic plan. Here are the ones you need to ask to come up with the best mission statement examples possible.

1. What do you provide?

If you don't know the goals, vision and mission of your company, you can't come up with a business plan or mission statement to support it. This question is straightforward and will help you capture the tangible and intangible aspects of your company’s business and services.

This question can benefit all kinds of business, regardless of industry or size. If you're a lesser-known business but still a customer-centric company, it can be more advantageous to use literal language since consumers aren't familiar with your company's mission. Take this example of a vision statement:

“To increase efficiency and drive sales for field salespeople by providing a solution that helps them organize, plan, route and map their sales territory.”

You still may not know the business, but the targeted customer, product and organization vision is clear in their mission statement. The company in this sample mission statement? Badger Maps. When describing how the statement ties to the company's mission, its founder and CEO, Steven Benson, said, "there are a lot of field salespeople out there and our goal is to be the best technology for them. This mission is very inspiring and motivating to me because we want to solve more and more of their challenges to make their job easier and make them more successful.”

If you have a clear purpose, using simple, straightforward language will help craft a good mission statement. You don't want to puzzle your customers, community or your employees. If you do, you inadvertently close your business off from potential customers. The below sample mission statement is an example of a bad mission statement. It actually appeared on the company’s website — no joke — under the words “simplifying the complex:"

“To eliminate the barriers around autonomous platforms and address the challenges that their silos cause, while harnessing the uniqueness of each environment to deliver remarkable experiences.”

When you think about what the organization purpose is and what it provides, your first goal should be to deliver information about the organization mission and vision. The above example fails on that front. Fortunately, the company recognized the issues and changed to a more coherent vision statement a year later.

2. What is going to make you stand out?

Every company has a competitor. You need to know who those competitors are and why your department mission is different from theirs. Do you have the same purpose? Why are your values different? How do you approach the same goals is unique ways?

William Gadea, Creative Director and CEO of IdeaRocket, knew that both his clients and his team wanted to be represented by something not just functional, but beautiful. And so, he created the company's mission statement:

"To be the quality leader in the creation of animated videos for business purposes. We will create videos that communicate our clients’ messages with wit, interest and elegance, enriching the cultural air we breathe.”

The first sentence outlines the customer, the product and how they want to stand-out — on quality, not on price. The second sentence reinforces the company’s positioning and appeals to a broader and often overlooked audience — employees.

“The prospect of doing good creative work is very important to my potential employees," said Gadea. "If they are on the creative side, then they probably went to art school, and this is their life and passion. Even if they are on the business side, working in a creative company still has a lot of appeal to the people I interview. I don't believe that there is a conflict between doing good creative and fulfilling a business objective. It is true that some people can't do the work they really want to do if it's for a business audience. But for many top-flight creatives — the best ones, actually — this is just another problem to solve, and they relish the opportunity to meet the ask in a beautiful and exhilarating way.”

It’s important that you back up your mission statement with tangible actions to give your company credibility. For example, Adidas and Nike are in the same industry and offer similar products, but they articulate their mission in distinct ways.

Adidas: "The Adidas Group strives to be the global leader in the sporting goods industry with brands built on a passion for sports and a sporting lifestyle."

Nike: "To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete."

From their mission statements, it's evident that Nike and Adidas have opposite approaches. That's not to say that Nike isn't fashionable or Adidas is not technical, but it's what they've chosen to emphasize.

If Nike didn’t invest in research and development or never introduced an innovation, its mission statement would be hollow. The fact that Nike’s staff includes experts in biomechanics, chemistry, exercise physiology, engineering and industrial design is a proof point of its commitment to innovation. Likewise, it would be hard to think of Adidas as a lifestyle brand without the company’s embrace of Run DMC in the 80s. (They were reportedly the first hip-hop group to receive a million-dollar endorsement deal after they dropped "My Adidas.")

The people you want to join your mission will do so because of your genuine effort to stay true to your goals and values. Pursue them with passion and focus, and people will follow.

3. Why do you do what you do?

This "why" will be the motivation behind every move you make as a company. For Badger, the benefit of their work is making field salespeople more productive. For Idea Rocket, it’s solving a communication problem in an elegant way. For my company, it's helping professionals wisely choose the company where they work.

You’ll know you’ve found the right purpose when you feel everything is exactly as it should be; it appears comfortable and natural and everyone can understand it. That concept is paraphrased from Olga Krelin, owner of Reach Design, whose mission is good design is invisible.

Vision statements are hard to craft, but these mission state examples should do the trick. Ask yourself these important questions to clarify your mission and you'll have a clear objective for your company in no time!

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Jennifer Bewley is the founder of Uncuffed which provides detailed research into prospective employers. Jennifer has an unhealthy love of financial data and speaking her mind and she uses each to help candidates choose the company they work for wisely.

 

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