The importance of really clarifying your mission is that everything else flows from it. Consider your mission the foundation of your business: a shaky foundation produces a weak business. Once you know your mission, you can begin to ask and answer important strategic questions within that framework. For instance, imagine your business one year from now, and answer each of the following questions prefaced by the frame, “If I am in service of my mission …”:
- What problem will I be solving?
- What difference will I have made through my company’s success?
- Where will my company be located?
- How many customers will I have?
- What will my role in the company be?
- What will my organizational chart look like?
- How many employees will I have?
- What revenues and profits will I have generated?
- What strategic partnerships/ventures will I have made?
- What’s next?
In formulating your mission statement, start by plugging it into the following formula (you can work on making it sound elegant once you’ve clarified the basic concepts): “We exist to do X, we do it for X, and we do it by X.” One way to determine if you’re on the right track is to talk about it with other people and watch for their reactions. If you get questions and they seem excited and interested, you’re probably onto something. If they change the subject, you have a dud. Go back to square one.
Microsoft’s mission was to put a computer in every home. That’s an undeniably compelling purpose, and Microsoft largely succeeded. (They also made a lot of money along the way—intentional missions have a way of doing that.) Of course, every business is not as glamorous as Microsoft, but any business can have a compelling mission. Here are a few examples of powerful intentional mission statements:
- Marriott Residence Inn: To provide our guests a home away from home.
- Pacific Theaters: To provide a place for people to flourish and to enhance the community.
- Mary Kay Cosmetics: To give unlimited opportunity to women.
- Aflac: To combine aggressive strategic marketing with quality products and services at competitive prices to provide the best insurance value for consumers.
What’s your intentional mission?
Excerpted from my book, “Putting Together the Entrepreneurial Puzzle: The Ten Pieces Every Business Needs to Succeed.” Available here on Amazon.