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Mission statement is part of strategy development and its core purpose is to underline why someone is in business. Therefore, when starting a business, the founder needs to figure out the practical elements like finances, staffing, location, etc. However, on a deeper level, a business owner needs to establish what message they want to be associated with their business. What do they want their potential customers to know about them? How do they want to be viewed by others in the industry?
Generally, these are the questions, and more, be found in a company’s mission statement. In a few short words, it captures your core brand positioning, helps you stand apart from your competitors, simplifies your strategic direction, and communicates a company persona. This is not the same as a company’s slogan, which predominantly serves as a marketing tool designed to grab attention quickly. The mission statement is also not necessarily the same as the organization vision statement, which defines where the business owner wants the company to go. While they may include the statement in their business plan, a mission statement is not a substitute for the plan itself.
The statement should be short, express the company’s purpose in a way that inspires support and ongoing commitment, set the tone of the company to outline concrete goals. Essentially reflect every dimension of the business from the services they provide to the products that they sell and the value proposition they have to offer. It should be actionable, substantive, dynamic, and charismatic.
As far as what a mission statement should do for a company, business leaders seem to agree, that it is one of the most crucial parts on which the business is built. Engaging the media, analysts and other industry watchers should be a goal of the mission statement, but it is also important for it to give employees something to reach for and be clear and specific enough to build the brand and affect public perception of the company.
The best way to develop a mission statement is to brainstorm with those connected to the business. Ask employees and customers what they see as the company’s biggest strengths and weaknesses. It is important to see how others see the company and the brand so that they have more than one perspective. The value of a mission statement comes from when all stakeholders (management, staff, suppliers, partners and customers) can internalize it and use it as some internal business compass for their day-to-day decision-making. Mission statements need to be written using words and sentences that ‘normal’ people use and understand.
Customers want results, not buzzwords and fluff. Collaborate on what the business is trying to accomplish, and how do all the characters – employees, customers and collaborates – play into that? When keeping the company’s story in mind, it will always have a mission that speaks to everyone and pushes the company forward every day. It is also important to remember that a mission statement is not evergreen. As a company evolves over time, its mission and intent may also change. A mission statement will keep the company on track, but it should not become stale of irrelevant, so the management needs to revisit every few years to fine-tune it if necessary.
It is also critical to note that it needs to have an emotional appeal. If the company’s mission statement is boring, nobody will notice or remember it. It is important to display and infuse with a little edge and personality. Nowadays businesses need to aim to be energizing, inspirational, and memorable. Rather than taking a bland, objective, and scientific approach, strive to build an emotional connection with their prospects. Essentially mission statement should help build that bond in seconds. Here is what Nike says to connect with the customer’s core audience – athletes: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. “For sports enthusiasts, these qualities are key for motivation. Words like “inspiration” and “innovation” effectively tap into the psychology of physical endurance.
This clearly shows that Nike have develop their brand around their mission statements, and the business objectives are often reflective in their service and offerings. For instance, the same can be said for the Walmart Corporation of stores, as their mission reads as follows: “We save people money so they can live better.” The company uses a collection of strategies, such as implementing sustainability plans and diversifying suppliers, to achieve its goals of reducing prices, which, in turn, helps the company to achieve its mission, by reaching customer validation. Another great example are Amazon.com Inc. the company has become the largest online retailer in the world and their attributes to ensure that the mission statement fulfilled. Amazon’s mission statement is as follows: “We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.” This mission statement promises an attractive e-commerce service to satisfy customers’ needs. The components or features that are identifiable in Amazon’s mission statement are lowest prices, best selection and utmost convenience. The low prices are a selling point that makes the company’s e-commerce website and service attractive. A corresponding strategic objective is to reduce operational costs. Amazon’s mission statement also points to having the best selection.
The availability of a wide variety of products on the company’s website is a major factor that attracts customers. Moreover, Amazon’s mission statement emphasizes convenience. Convenience is a common criterion that consumers use in evaluating the quality of the online retail service. Amazon’s mission statement is also satisfactory, based on best practices in developing mission statements. For example, the inclusion of pricing, product selection and service quality helps define the strategic direction of the e-commerce business. However, it is recommended that a characterization of the nature of the business, such as its e-commerce nature, must be included in Amazon’s mission statement. Such characterization helps in specifications of strategies for the online retail business.
In conclusion, while developing a mission statement it can create its own challenges, and needs written with a goal that is an action, not a sentiment. The company has to make it quantifiable, not nebulous but reflecting true passion and values.
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