Business tips: Writing a mission statement
You've had your initial business idea and written a plan. But do you know WHY you're creating this business, or HOW you’ll deliver your end product/service? What will the company's underlying purpose be and how will your core values drive the business?
To get these crucial elements ironed out, it’s a good idea to write a ‘mission statement’ for your startup – a short summary of the aims and values of your business.
WHAT does your business do?
The first thing to pin down is what the business actually does – i.e. at the most basic level, what is the output of your new business idea, and what is its purpose.
Defining this ‘WHAT’ element might sound simple, but describing it in a clear and concise way will help you to begin the process of completing your mission statement. A bicycle manufacturer might define their WHAT as ‘making quality bikes at great prices, for adults and kids to enjoy’. Whereas a creative agency might define their WHAT as ‘delivering creative solutions to our business clients’ design problems’.
HOW does your company do what it does?
Next, have a think about HOW you achieve what you do. How do you deliver your product or service to customers, what operations are involved and what makes your way different?
The bicycle manufacturer might have a big focus on making hand-made bikes, so their HOW could be ‘We make our bikes by hand, and to order, using our 25 years’ experience in the industry to deliver the best possible quality’. While the creative agency might say ‘We use the latest design approaches, coupled with cutting-edge design software, to bring our clients’ design to life’. Both of these statements explain the underlying operational processes in the business, and how each business delivers its product/service to the end customer.
WHY does your company do what it does?
Most businesses are great at defining the WHAT and HOW elements of their business model. ‘I make Product A using Process B’. But it can be a lot harder to define WHY you’re doing this.
Ultimately, the WHY is the most important element of your mission statement. In essence, you’re describing what drives you to do what you do. What are your big aspirations for the business, and what do you want to achieve? For the bicycle manufacturer, the WHY statement may be ‘We want to encourage our community to get on their bikes, become more sustainable and stay healthy’. And the agency may define their WHY as ‘We want to build innovation into everything we do, bringing fresh ideas to our clients’ design’.
What are the core values driving your enterprise?
Your personal values as a founder might not sound like a crucial element to think about. But any new startup is a reflection of the ideas, ambition, drive and values of its founders.
The ways in which you behave, the vision you provide for your team and the ways in which you interact with your first customers will all underline the foundation values of your new business. Think about what drives you. Is it profit and money? Or do you want to change the world in positive ways? Or provide employment and opportunities for your local community?
Bring it all together into your mission statement
If you’ve answered those four questions, then you have everything you need to create a comprehensive and useful mission statement for the business.
For example, for the bicycle manufacturer, it may look like this:
Happy Spokes Bicycles Ltd:
What we do: We make quality, sustainable bikes at great prices, building a range of city bikes for adults and kids aged 9 to 90 to enjoy.
How we do it: We make our bikes by hand, and to order, using sustainable processes and our 25 years’ experience in the industry to deliver the best possible quality.
Why we do it: We believe that cycling is the future. We want to encourage our community to get on their bikes, become more sustainable and stay healthy.
Our core values: Our 5 core value pillars are:
Sustainability – we strive to limit our impact on the planet and environment
Health – we aim to make our customers healthier and fitter
Craftsmanship – we believe in keeping hand-made production alive and well
Value – we want our bikes to be affordable to all
Fun – we aim to make Happy Spokes a fun community to be part of.
With your mission statement written, and a business plan under your belt, you have the best possible foundations on which to build your business enterprise.
Your mission statement can set the foundations for your company’s future.
Talk to us about your startup plans.