How to Write a Mission Statement

  •    Kelly is a freelance SEO consultant based out of Washington D.C. She has worked for Philadelphia marketing agencies and writes for several lifestyle sites.

Writing a mission statement is as important as crafting your business plan--it is a guide for your new business for the present and future. In addition to being vital to your partners and employees, the mission statement is a front-facing declaration that lets your customers know who you are and what you do.

Like any business document, a mission statement takes planning and structure. While there are many templates and formats you can use, the basic creation is the same no matter what industry you are in.

Here are five steps that show you how to write a mission statement for your business.

Step One: Answer Questions

Your mission statement should address specific questions:

  • Why are you starting this business? This question is the core of your mission, so outlining your reasons behind starting a business in your industry is crucial.
  • Who are your customers? Who are you looking to help, service, or provide goods to?
  • Who are you? If you’re starting a business alone or with a partner, you should incorporate your backgrounds into your statement to show your experience and passion for the business.

Step Two: Define Your Company

Before you write a mission statement for your new business, you should try to define as many characteristics of your company as possible. This can include the traits that will define the culture of your company. Some traits can include:

  • Conservative versus cutting edge
  • Professional versus playful

Your company culture can include everything from dress code to work retreats and holiday parties. It can also help drive the look and feel of the office--will you have an open floor plan, or offices? The characteristics of your company should be represented in the tone of your mission statement.

In addition to outlining your culture, your mission statement should address what separates your company from the existing competition. If your plan is to shake up the market, how are you going to do so? Your mission statement should outline what sets you apart, and what makes you unique.

Step Three: Outline Your Goals

What goals do you want to achieve? Is there a market need for your business, or a personal one? Making a list of your goals before you write a mission statement is an easy way to incorporate them into the finished document. Make sure to outline how you will achieve these goals in your statement as well, whether it’s with new technology, groundbreaking ideas, or just plain persistence.

Your goals should reflect a singular target, whether you are focused on dominating a market or helping a group of people. Your company culture should reflect these goals.

Step Four: Start Writing

The heart of your mission statement should be one or two lines that gets right to the purpose of your company and what you aim to do, like this example from Starbucks:

"Our Coffee. It has always been, and will always be, about quality. We’re passionate about ethically sourcing the finest coffee beans, roasting them with great care, and improving the lives of people who grow them. We care deeply about all of this; our work is never done."

Include concrete visions instead of general statements. What do you want to create, who do you want to help, and how will you do it? Be specific in your final draft, but keep the personality of your business threaded throughout.

Step Five: Present Your Finalized Mission Statement

Having your mission statement prominently displayed in your office is great, but you want it to reflect your company and its goals to prospective customers. Include a copy of your mission statement on your website, on your About Us page or as a standalone page, to distribute your mission to everyone.

A great mission statement can attract lifelong customers and define your business for years to come. As your company grows and evolves, your mission statement might alter, but the core of your business will remain consistent.