Entrepreneurs constantly have to pitch their ventures to other stakeholders such as investors and customers. Even though the ultimate goal of a for-profit company is to turn a profit, this will not suffice as a mission statement. When stakeholders ask a founder what the company is about, stakeholders will lose interest if she responds that the venture’s mission is to “make money.” This response, though often honest, does not inspire confidence in other people. They would view this answer as either sarcasm or an expression of greed.
Instead, stakeholders want to hear founders state a company mission. A mission statement explains what the goal of the organization is in terms of needs it hopes to meet and how it hopes to meet them.
Newer and smaller organizations tend to have missions that relate to a founder’s origins and motivation. The mission statement should specify what the venture will do physically and it should hint at or imply the philosophy behind a new venture. For example, a new venture that makes delicious, healthy blends of peanut butter and whey protein should have a mission statement that specifically mentions its intent to make novel, healthy foods that are tasty. If the company makes only nut butter blends, then the mission statement should be even more specific to making just nut butter products that are healthy and delicious. Mission statements that are too vague can scare stakeholders who might think management is unfocused.
Mission statements can be edited as the firm changes. Many organizations with multiple product lines can no longer be specific about a single product, and the mission statement will have to apply to all the company’s activities. These larger firms tend to have mission statements that provide guidelines for ethical behavior or address the underlying relationship between the organization and its customers.
The Value of Mission Statements
Your organization needs to have goals. If it has no goals, there is next to no hope of ever reaching them. If you do not know what you are working toward, reaching it will be a total mystery. The mission statement is the reason the business exists, and goals should grow out of this vision. If a goal does not work with your business’s vision, your business will end up battling itself over the goal and most likely will not accomplish it.
Your organization needs to be congruent within itself to be successful. Your vision is informed by your values, which are the way the organization sees the world. All of the daily assumptions your employees are intended to make about how the world works, your organization’s place within the world and each individual employee’s place within the organization need to be informed by these values. If your business is going to be successful, you need to clearly establish your values from the beginning and make certain your vision works with these values instead of clashing with them.