Just about every company around has a mission statement that reflects the goals of the business. Knowing this, it brings up an interesting question. If you’re still in the early stages of starting up your business, do you need a business plan mission statement?
Short answer: No, you don’t. The idea that you need one is actually a myth.
Why You Should Wait
The reality is that no one will even notice if it’s missing much less judge you on whether it is good. However, if it is very bad, it can actually hurt you. This would include if it’s way too long or doesn’t actually state your purpose.
When it comes to your business plan mission statement, know it is not a high priority.
3 Signs It’s Not Time to Write Your Business Plan Mission Statement
When should you write your Mission Statement? Many entrepreneurs get hung up on this part of the business plan, which is a good indication the timing is not right for a mission statement (yet). Here are 3 signs you should put this on the back burner:
- It is the only “blank” section in your business plan, and you don’t know what to write, AND everything else is pretty much done.
- You feel stuck on your Mission Statement or don’t like the draft you have, AND have not sold/delivered any version of your product or service to any customers yet. The core of your mission statement will come from filling a need based on the problem you solve for your clients, so start solving it in reality before you try to draft a statement in concept phase.
- The shortest you can get it is still more than two sentences long. You need to be able to boil it down to a clean, clear statement. One sentence is the target.
If any of these signs apply to you, then you may be better off to just put your mission statement on the back burner and leave it out of your business plan for now.
A mission statement does serve a valuable purpose — just not at this point in the game. It makes more sense to wait until your business has been operating for a while. You might even wait until someone asks to see a mission statement before beginning this step.
Remember, a mission statement serves as a compass for your business and the problem you intend to solve. Sometimes you cannot determine that until you start actually operating. You see what words and nix what does not. From there, you craft your Mission Statement.
At this stage, it is not necessary to spend endless hours writing and rewriting compelling words for your mission statement. Rather than this, redirect your efforts toward the items that need your immediate time and attention. That is to say, start by focusing on the sections that investors and bankers like to see first.
Each investor is different. To clarify, we will go through a list of some of the most common things they will want to know.
The Questions You Need to Answer
How will you obtain money to run your business (and keep it running)?
No, I’m not referring to investor money. I’m talking about bringing in cash (not profit) to pay back the bank or investor. Certainly, the financials are of extreme interest to your audience. Be sure that you dedicate a large bulk of your efforts to composing the financial section of your business plan. This is where investors look to see if your business idea is viable.
What’s your strategy for finding (ongoing) customers?
The marketing strategies section of your business plan discusses how you’ll find customers. It is another area of particular interest to investors. After all, it doesn’t matter how great your business idea is if you can’t find and attract customers. To state the obvious, customers are vital to the growth and success of your company. This is why marketing strategies should be a focal point in writing your business plan.
Will your company earn a good return on their investment?
This is the end-all-be-all question with SBA lenders, bankers, and investors. The answer lies in a close study of your business plan. The business plan tells them how well thought out your idea is. Meanwhile, it shows whether you’re properly set up for revenue and growth. As they’re searching for clues to support your viability, they’re looking to see whether you’re presenting facts or guesstimates. Above all, they are trying to determine how realistic your projections seem to be.
When You ARE Ready to Write Your Business Plan Mission Statement
You know when to ignore the mission statement; you should know what to do when the time is right! If you are ready to create a super powerful and highly impactful mission statement, here is what you need to know!
A strong mission statement — written at the right time — does add huge value. It’s a short and easy way for investors and everyone else to see what your business is all about. Furthermore, you want your mission statement to pack a punch.
To sum up, you want it to be memorable and reflect your company’s goals.
Consider this Formula to Make it Easier
- Part 1: the action [Verb]
- Part 2: the beneficiary [Noun}
- Part 3: the action/problem theme [Verb or Noun]
- Part 1: To improve…
- Part 2: …the way people…
- Part 3: …connect.
- Part 1: Our Mission is to correct…
- Part 2: …office workers’…
- Part 3: …natural posture.
Actual Examples of Powerful and Unique Mission Statements
Uber: “Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers.”
TED: “Spread ideas.”
Amazon.com: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
Sony: “To be a company that inspires and fulfills your curiosity.”
Apple: “Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.”
Ikea: “To create a better everyday life for the many people.”
The first thing you likely notice is the variation in length and language between all these examples. Some favor short, simple language (TED), whereas others are more detailed and specific (Apple). This really illustrates that there are a few different approaches you can take to write your mission statement. No matter what, it needs to be reflective of your brand. Likewise, it should speak to the people who you want to do business with.
It also needs to be very clear. It should be easy to understand what the primary goal is for your business just by reading your mission statement.
Are you ready to write a mission statement but could use some support? Reach out – we would love to offer you some help with this.