Last time out, we covered your company’s core values; why they’re important, what value they are to your company, and how they define why you’re in business. It’s a hard task to define those, but an important one. So what’s next? Let’s put them into action and go on a mission… yours.
A company’s mission statement is tied to its core values — but they’re very different things. Where your core values cover your “why” for business, your mission statement tells your “how”. It’s the short, concise story of what your business does, where, and for whom, and it’s what should direct every action of every employee you have.
What’s the point?
Just as we did with core values, let’s begin with why it’s important to have a mission statement. Marketing firm Kinesis is pretty high on mission statements:
“When you live your mission through your business brand, then amazing, phenomenal things start to happen. Your perfect, dream clients are drawn to you. People get really excited about what you are doing. They spread the word to their friends, they sign up for your services, they give you great testimonials. You get more customers, make more revenue, and your business grows with ease. And best of all, your team is more creative and having more fun than ever before because everyone is in absolute alignment with your why.”
“When you live your mission through your business brand, then amazing, phenomenal things start to happen.”
Not into something quite so flowery, even if it is true? Then let’s look at the facts: Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, in a 1996 article in the Harvard Business Journal, note that companies with well-defined ideologies, including a common purpose statement, performed 12 times better in the general stock market since 1925 than those who did not have that type of ideology to guide, define, and inspire their business.
If you want a unified workplace of inspired individuals that push your business to new levels of success, give them a really good mission.
I chose to accept it
A mission statement puts your core values into action on a well-defined path. It tells first your team, and then your customers, what you do as a business to live out the “why” that you started within your core values.
Let’s say, for example, your company chose core values of community, integrity, respect, and service. That’s amazing! So did mine. But you’re an electrician, and I’m a roofer. Our “why” is similar, and we would probably work well together. Our customers might even be the same people, but they aren’t going to call me to repair the wire sticking out of their wall any more than they’ll call you to patch a shingle blow-off, because our “what” is totally different.
You’ll want buy-in from your team, so involving a few key personnel like department heads or representatives from different areas (like employees who work in the field or employees who work in the office) might be worthwhile. Regardless of who you involve in this process, Patrick Hull, an entrepreneur, investor, and Forbes Contributor, gives a great guideline for the four questions a mission statement should answer:
- What do we do?
- How do we do it?
- For whom do we do it?
- What value are we bringing?
It doesn’t need to be catchy or use fancy buzzwords or cliches or common phrases — and in fact, it probably shouldn’t. It should be unique to your own business, with your unique value.
The mission of a mission
So a mission statement basically takes your core values and gives them shoes, thus fulfilling both operational and human resources needs. But as I’m a marketer, and my focus is on that area of business, I’ll speak here to the benefits of having a well-defined mission statement in your outward-facing relationships with customers and the community. As I look at it, there are three really pronounced benefits:
- A well-defined public image
- A better customer service experience
- A more deeply-felt impact on the community
A well-defined public image
A mission statement tells your potential customers what you do. Like we determined earlier: your brand of business, as an electrician, should be different than mine as a roofer, and our mission statements should reflect that difference. But what about if I’m looking to expand my business? My mission statement should also help determine that strategy.
As Kinni writes in Be Our Guest, “You will probably never see a Disney-made jet or get a home loan at the Bank of Disney. A common purpose defines an organization’s boundaries… and creates the foundation for the public image of the company. It tells our guests what they can expect to get from the company.”
Likewise, if you’re considering a change or expansion of services you offer as a business, check it against your mission. Does it fit? As business coach Glenn Smith writes, “The mission statement serves as a ‘North Star’ that keeps everyone clear on the direction of the organization. … Mission is to the company what a compass is to an explorer, a map to a tourist, a rudder to a ship, a template to a machinist. It provides the boundaries and guardrails you need in order to stay on the path to your preferred future.” Your mission should guide your strategy, while telling people what to expect from you.
A better customer service experience
That leads to the second benefit: better service. A mission statement should, first and foremost, be advertised internally, and it is critical that, like your core values, your team is bought in. You may have the same “whys”, but it’s just as important that you’re all on the same page when it comes to your “what” and your “how”.
When your team is united in why they’re working together and how they’re working together, the business will naturally run more smoothly and efficiently, and as employees, they’ll be happier. An inspired, united team is going to have an energy that’s hard to beat, and your customers will notice the difference. Employees who are pulling the same direction, who have a clear purpose are going to be a lot more willing — and empowered — to create great experiences for customers. They’ll know exactly what they can do within your company’s mission to deliver better service, go beyond their basic needs and exceed their expectations.
And people talk. And they leave Google reviews. And they give your business card to their friend who needs the same kind of service. And when you tell your story through your advertising, you’re really just reinforcing the story already being told about you in the community, which is the most effective kind of advertising there is.
A more deeply-felt impact on the community
This leads to the final point — and it’s the big-picture one. A company with an effective mission statement and effective staff is going to have the biggest effect in the community. Maybe your primary business goal is to turn a profit. That’s fine; it’s tough to run a company for very long without that. But this last point is really meant to speak to the companies whose values include leaving the world a little better place.
How you make an impact on your community will depend on what your business is, what your values are, and what your community needs. In our case at White Castle Roofing, we have a few different community initiatives, like our Free Roof Rescue (providing a few free roofs each year to households in our communities with a pretty desperate need) or our Grand Giveaway (offering customers a chance each month to win a $500 rebate on their roof as well as an additional $500 to a charity they select).
These are wonderful projects, and we love doing them, regardless of the benefits to us as a business. We do them because they are the right thing to do, not for any sort of benefit to us. But it would be disingenuous to claim there have been no such benefits. Customers have chosen to work with us (sometimes even exclusively, rather than seeking a few bids) because they know that we value our community, and actively conduct our business in such a way to make a positive impact on it. Not only do they believe our Why, they care about our How. The more customers we have, the more generous we can be, and the bigger the impact we can make.
With a focused mission statement guiding your business, you can connect with your customers more intensely, drive better loyalty, and have more of an opportunity to leave your community a little better off than before.
So it’s time, friends. Craft a mission statement. It requires effort to write a good one — and even more effort to live one — but your business will be all the better for it.
And don’t worry, this was a long blog…but it won’t self-destruct, so don’t click away too quickly! Check out the importance of core values, or conduct your own research and share the results! And let’s build a network of mission-driven businesses that make our world a better place.