Mission statements made possible

Answering these questions might generate a mission statement that provides a positive visual image.

An essential element of any business plan is the development of a mission statement. A mission statement defines what the company does and why they are in business. For the business owner, it serves as a focal point for the intended direction of the entire business.

A mission statement provides a foundation for the purpose, plan, and beliefs of the business owner. French writer Anatole France once stated, "To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." This quote captures the essence of how a mission statement can inspire a company.

A mission statement needs to be clear, concise, memorable and well communicated to your customers, public and employees. The following questions provide a good guide to help a business owner visualize an image of their company’s purpose:

  • What ignited your passion to start your business?
  • How is your business different than your competitors?
  • What makes your goods or service unique?
  • Who are your customers and how do you improve their lives?
  • What are your company’s values and beliefs?
  • What is your company’s social responsibility?

A study by Bart, Bontis, and Taggar, A model of the impact of mission statements on firm performance, indicates that mission statements can have a positive effect on business performance. However, in order for a company to perform well, the study claims that the “mission statement must have the proper rationale and contain sound content as well as be followed by organizational alignment and sufficient behavioral change in the desired direction.”

Another study by Smith, Heady, Carson and Carson, Do Mission Statements accomplish their mission?, analyzed the relationship between mission statements, social responsibility and company longevity. The results of this study validated that mission statements referencing an organization's social responsibility were intricately related to a company’s survival.

Once you create your mission statement, it is important to communicate it. Your mission statement should be integrated throughout your business both internally to your employees and externally to your customers. Internally, it should be incorporated into your marketing plan, employee orientation, training and development.

Michigan State University Extension Product Center can help new, emerging, or existing entrepreneurs develop their business in agriculture, natural resources and bio-economy sectors. If you need assistance developing a mission statement, writing a business plan, developing a product, or market research, an innovation counselor can help.

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