Well, we’ve been in 2017 for three days. If you’re like 40 percent of Americans, you’ve made a New Year’s Resolution. This year, I’ve decided that in my personal life, I want to deepen my faith and increase my fitness. Professionally, I want to improve my skills while expanding my reach. And for my family, I’ve decided that we need to trade Facebook, FaceTime and other technology for more real books and face-to-face time.
A while back, we talked about the four steps you need to follow for a good mission statement and the ways to make sure you’ve written a good statement. Have you implemented any? I’d love to hear more about your experience writing your mission statement. If you haven’t written one yet, I have one question: why? If you’re spending time writing resolutions for your personal life and your professional growth, you need a mission statement. A mission statement can be the unifying piece that pulls each component together, giving you a more fulfilling life overall and a better opportunity when marketing yourself and your business.
Mission Statement? Mission: Possible
Writing a mission statement can feel like an overwhelming task. After all, you’re taking the essence of your business and turning it into a one-sentence description that shares your goals, your purpose, your principles, and your value. Writing a mission statement may be a process that takes several hours or days, but the benefit for your business and your life can cause a significant impact on how you operate. This is because your mission statement isn’t necessarily for you. It’s a window for the outside world to better understand you or your company.
That’s one reason mission statements are such a significant part of the nonprofit sector. It helps to rally financial donors, volunteers, and staff around the cause the organization is working to solve. They spell out the precise focus of the organization. For example, Convoy of Hope is a worldwide organization that, since 1994, has helped more than 79 million individuals through a variety of programs. Their mission statement shares exactly what they do: “Convoy of Hope is a faith-based, nonprofit organization with a driving passion to feed the world through children’s feeding initiatives, community outreaches and disaster response.”
Strategic Management Insight, which analyzes mission statements to see if they will be successful in communicating the what and why of a business, notes nine components are necessary for an effective mission statement.
- Products of services
- Concern for survival
- Concern for public image
- Concern for employees
Looking at Convoy of Hope’s mission statement, you can see that their customers and markets are individuals worldwide, with their products and services including children’s feeding initiatives, community outreaches, and responses to disasters. Their self-concept? A driving passion. As a faith-based nonprofit, they are socially and financially responsible, and, one would imagine, respectful of their employees.
In the corporate world, Toyota had one of the top mission statements when Strategic Management Insight ranked the mission statements of 40 top companies in 2013.
“Toyota will lead the way to the future of mobility, enriching lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people. Through our commitment to quality, constant innovation and respect for the planet, we aim to exceed expectations and be rewarded with a smile. We will meet our challenging goals by engaging the talent and passion of people, who believe there is always a better way.”
Strategic Management Insight noted that they met nearly all of the nine components, including several that they’ve found to be critical to a company’s success.
Toyota revised the corporate mission statement in 2015, with their new mission being “to attract and attain customers with high-valued products and services and the most satisfying ownership experience in America.”
While Strategic Management Insight uses a set list of criteria to assess mission statements, which you can also utilize, you should also include an emotional review of your mission statement.
For example, look again at Toyota’s two statements. Which do you feel best represents Toyota? Which of their mission statements resonates most deeply with you?
Put yourself in several different positions when you analyze your mission statement. Think about your statement as a staff member, an investor, a board member, a current customer, and a prospective customer. Would your mission statement give each person an understandable and clear picture of what your company represents?
Remember, too, that your mission statement doesn’t have to be a lifelong statement that you carry with you forever. While it’s important that it be long standing, companies shift and change direction. As Toyota has done, companies can change their statements as their products, services, and values change and grow.
Likewise, the mission statement doesn’t have to be for just an organization, whether for- or non-profit. Individuals from a variety of sectors and backgrounds have found value to creating their own personal mission statements.
Many CEOs have also found a benefit to creating their own statements. The ideal first surfaced with Stephen Covey in the late 1980s, in his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.” He suggested that, with the end goal in mind, leaders write personal mission statements, or purpose statements.
- Denise Morrison, CEO of the Campbell Soup Company: “To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference.”
- Richard Branson, CEO of The Virgin Group: “To have fun in (my) journey through life and learn from (my) mistakes. In business, know how to be a good leader and always try to bring out the best in people. It’s very simple: listen to them, trust in them, believe in them, respect them and let them have a go.”
- Joel Manby, CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and previous CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment: “To love God and love others.”
Forbes listed ten more CEOs, all whom clearly described the way they live their life through their personal mission statements. For these leaders, who are trying to find a work-life balance while still running large, successful businesses, a personal mission statement helps them stay focused on each strategic step, action they take, and resolution they make.
6 Ways Having a Mission Statement Can Help Your Business and Your Life
1. You could experience better company performance
In a study by Valerij Dermol for the Management, Knowledge and Learning International Conference 2012, data showed a positive correlation between the presence of a mission statement and value added per employee (VAE). The report noted that “all other relationships between the existence of mission statement and other measures of company performance are weak and statistically non-significant,” as VAE growth shows evidence of a company’s concern for societal welfare. Through the study, it can be determined that “the development and existence of a mission statement and its communication across and beyond companies’ borders might lead to increase of VAE in a company and through this also to important social benefits. Therefore additional effort should be put into developing mission statements and into incentives and knowledge resources to do this.”
This added value from employees most likely comes because the company can provide jobs to the society’s residents, pay benefits in the country, and shows investors and lenders that company leader’s value and recognize the role they will play in society.
2. Your entire team has a unifying operational motto — and so do you
A mission statement gives your team something to rally behind. When your mission statement shares what and how you do what you do, employees and team members at every level know and understand the purpose for their job and the role it plays in the overall organization’s operations and growth.
On the other hand a personal mission statement can unify all of your activities. Rather than spending time on a non-fruit producing activity, your mission statement will help you remember why you’re doing an activity that, in the moment, might not necessarily be rewarding but will lead you to reaching your ultimate goal.
3. You have a basis on which to make decisions
The mission statement will help you set your direction and make decisions. It serves as a guide that keeps you pointed in the growth direction you want the company to head, and what you want your life to accomplish. As new opportunities arise, you can use them to help you decide if these are tasks that should be undertaken and if they are worth the investment of time and resources. Line each situation and decision up with your mission statement and make sure it fits within the boundaries and values you’ve defined as being important to your business.
4. You have a strategic-goal shaper
When you’re trying to determine the one-, two-, and five-year strategic goals and direction of your company, your mission statement keeps you from getting trapped in the same way of thinking, or the vacuum that can be your board room. It’s also a good point of reference for your personal resolutions and goals, as knowing your overall mission will allow you break down the steps it will take to accomplish the mission over the course of many years.
5. You have a solid evaluation tool
Tracking your work is one of the most important things you can do to see if your marketing has been effective, your goals have furthered your business, and your daily activities will be fruitful in the future. Many people have said, “what you measure will be your mission.” When you know your mission, you know what to measure. Has your company met the customer service and product quality standards spelled out in your mission statement? Have your daily activities been a positive reflection of your personal mission statement?
6. You have a gauge that helps you determine the purpose of your business and your life
Your mission statement spells out what you’re doing and why you’re doing it; essentially, your purpose, as Stephen Covey wrote. It’s not an individual goal — it’s the culmination of your goals that leads to a bigger picture result. Your mission statement is a snapshot of your life.
Rick Warren, pastor and author of “The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?,” make an interesting point about your mission.
“Being successful and fulfilling your life’s purpose are not at all the same thing. You can reach all your personal goals, become a raving success by the world’s standard, and still miss your purpose in this life.”
Having a mission statement for your business and your personal life ensures that even when sales are growing, business is booming, and your life is filled with positive forward momentum, you don’t forget they “why” of your company or your life. It keeps you grounded and focused on what you really value.
Success isn’t contingent on the presence of a mission statement, as Gabe points out. Four large companies, including Starbucks, Facebook, General Electric, and Walmart are “hugely successful in the financial realm.” The one thing they all have in common is the element that will make your marketing, business, and life successful: passion — and specifically, passion for people. These companies recognize the individual nature of the people involved in their companies and finding ways to serve them.
Warren also writes, “the only really happy people are those who have learned how to serve.”
Many of the CEO mission statements also include a reminder and purpose of serving others. This is because life is about relationships. Your professional life and business growth depends on the relationships you have with your customers and your team members. Your personal life is more rewarding when you have valuable relationships.
Do your resolutions this year including any goals about your relationships? What are you looking to change or improve this year that you think a mission statement might help you improve? I’d love to hear your resolutions, goals, or mission statements in the comments below — and if you know of anyone who might benefit from writing their own mission statement, feel free to share this article.
Not sure where to get started? Contact us today. We can help you take your resolutions and make a purpose-filled mission statement that will help you direct your business, meet your goals, and grow personally and professionally.