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Crafting Your Mission Statement

April 21, 2005View for printing

We have all seen them--mission statements hanging cockeyed on some wall somewhere, explaining the "purpose" of the corporation. Far too often these signs seem meaningless, apparently created at some corporate retreat ages ago by some disinterested committee.

by Steve Strauss

The same is true for many small businesses--they too have mission statements prominently displayed on the wall, and while their employees may pay it lip service, the mission statement often seems more show than tell.

But then there is the great small business. For the great small business, a mission statement is a tool that focuses everyone's energy and gets them moving in the same direction with a common purpose. Rather than be an albatross, it is a beacon. Great small businesses get their employees to actually buy into that mission and believe in it, knowing that the alternative is not pretty. When employees do not understand the business, its values or mission, when they feel the need to heed some maxim they do not believe to be true, then morale suffers.

But on the other hand, when employees feel part of something important, something bigger than themselves, then their value increases and work improves. That is the value of a real, honest, relevant mission statement. A mission statement, if done right, can be a great business tool because it tells you, your customers and your employees exactly what your business is about and where it is headed.

Another advantage of having a mission is that it helps you know whether your policies and procedures, as well as your own personal daily activities, are pointing you closer or further from your goal. It keeps you focused and it assists employees to understand what is expected of them.

How, then, do you create a mission statement that sings, that is real and full of integrity, that creates a bigger game and that people will buy into? Sure, they can be created alone, but if you really want everyone to own the result, then consider working with your top team -- your management and most trusted employees. Then, explain what the business' mission is during the interview process and have any new employee buy into it from the day they are hired.

A good mission statement should be between 50 and 400 words. It should speak to your highest ideals and values. You can create a mission statement by answering the following questions:

1. What business values do you want to be part of your business?

2. What qualities and characteristics should your business exemplify?

3. What sorts of resources do you have at your disposal?

4. What is your niche?

5. What is your vision for your business? (Think Big!)

6. Based upon your values, vision, characteristics and resources, what is the purpose of your business?

7. Which of your personal qualities and values do you want to be part of the business?

8. What does your business do best, and how can it best serve its clients, employees and investors?

9. What is your market? Who are your customers? What is your commitment to them?

10. Are you willing to pay the price to live your vision and mission, whatever the price may be?

Based upon your answers to the questions above, you begin to create a framework for your business mission. It is the essence of your values, dreams, plans, niche, resources, market and so forth. A mission statement incorporates any or all of these. Make it big and bold and extraordinary--something you believe in with all of your heart. Remember the couplet from Goethe, "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and magic and power in it."

When this process is done correctly, you should end up with a mission that is the essence of your vision for your business. If you do it right, the mission statement has the power to transform your business. Boldness has genius and magic and power in it.

To read this and other related articles online, visit: http://www.NFIB.com/object/IO_21773.html
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Reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law. Full copyright retained by the original publication. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.


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