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What Is a Mission Statement?

written by: Vikas Vij•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 11/14/2010

Set out your business agenda with a powerful mission statement. Knowing what is a mission statement is the first step to creating the ideal one for your business.

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    Brand Yourself With a Good Mission Statement

    Mission Statement for your Business A mission statement is probably the most important statement for any organization. It is important to understand what is a mission statement before a business can define one for itself. In the most basic sense, a mission statement is a summing up of the purpose for which the company exists. It is an announcement of the company’s mission which addresses both those who are within the organization and those who are outside of it. A mission statement communicates not only with the employees and the management of the company, but also with its shareholders, customers, suppliers, investors, financiers, bankers and the world at large. It is a public expression of the company’s role and responsibility toward everyone associated with it, as well as the society as a whole.

    Attributes of a Good Mission Statement

    Now that you know the answer to the question what is a mission statement, it's important to know the key attributes that make a good mission statement for any organization. The first attribute is clarity of thought and clarity of expression. There must be no room for ambiguity when defining the company’s mission statement. The second attribute is integrity and focus of the statement. The content and meaning of the statement must match with all that the company really stands for, and it must reflect a sincerity and commitment of purpose of the company. The focus of the statement must be sharp and must not digress in other areas that are not a core part of the organization. Finally, the mission statement must ideally be brief, succinct, transparent and direct in its expression.

    How Specific or How Generalized?

    One of the challenges when preparing a mission statement is to determine how specific or how generalized the statement should be. Many companies try to incorporate the broadest possible role and purpose for the organization in their mission statement. But that is not necessarily the best approach. It is important to remember exactly what is a mission statement when preparing it for your organization. A mission statement must maintain its focus on the current focus of the organization, and worry about its future endeavors or diversifications. It must not be confused with a vision statement which focuses on the future. A classic example of a balanced mission statement is that of Google, Inc. which says, “To make the world’s information universally accessible and useful." This statement is very specific about Google’s current focus of information accessibility and usage, and yet it encompasses the entire world market within that narrow focus.

    How to Write a Mission Statement

    Defining the organization’s mission statement must be preceded by the process of information gathering, analysis and introspection of the organization’s real role and purpose of existence. It must review the current product and services range of the organization, what are the geographical markets where the company operates its business, how far is technology important to the company’s existence, and whether the company’s primary focus is business to consumer (B2C) or business to business (B2B), or both. The top management or the promoters of the company along with the business division heads must conduct a brainstorming session and provide their inputs. The mission statement must be sincere, focused, and grounded in reality. The wordings of the statement must be formulated with this mandate in mind.

    Photo Credit: ilco