What is a mission statement, and does a small business or SME need one?
The purpose of a mission statement is to define why a company exists, what it stands for, what it intends to accomplish, and the benefits it seeks to provide to its various stakeholders. To a certain extent, a mission statement personifies the business. Sometimes, a mission statement is confused with a vision statement that describes where the company wants to be in the future. Occasionally, these statements are combined.
Knowing what a mission statement is and its purpose, can it help a small business achieve its goals? The answer is a clear and emphatic yes if handled correctly.
Live the Mission
The caveat is that a mission statement cannot simply be prepared, read, or distributed to all employees, saved on a computer or filed away, and never looked at again. When this is the case, the mission statement serves no worthwhile purpose. Mission statements have to be “lived” by everyone in the company – small business or large enterprise. All employees – top-down and bottom-up should practically have the mission statement memorized, so anyone can recite it or paraphrase it without having to give much thought to what it contains. Everyone should know how their jobs contribute to achieving the company’s mission. Owners and managers must exhibit their commitment by continuously demonstrating that they, along with all employees, use the mission statement as a guide that helps achieve goals and objectives.
Display the Mission
A company’s mission statement should be prominently displayed. Everyone needs to see it – employees and customers. The display keeps employees on track, thinking every day about the vital role in achieving the company’s ultimate mission. Displaying a mission statement in a reception area or owner’s office is not nearly as effective as showing it in places where employees typically gather – work areas, break rooms, conference rooms, warehouse, manufacturing floor, etc. If employees are expected to live by the mission statement, displaying the statement is a constant reminder of their “mission.”
When customers, one of the most critical stakeholders, see a mission statement prominently displayed, it lets them know what the business is trying to achieve. A mission statement that is correctly crafted advises customers what the company intends to deliver to them precisely. This might be a product or service, a level of quality or pricing, customer satisfaction, etc. – whatever the business seeks to provide to its customers. Customers then know what to expect for the money spent.
Communicate the Mission
A mission statement does not have to be lengthy and complex. Getting the point across to the intended targets is the most critical aspect of a mission statement. Can employees and customers remember it? Do they understand it? Is the company achieving its mission? A mission statement as simple as, “To be highly successful by pleasing one customer at a time,” might be all that is necessary. Imagine the effect of this mission statement on customers and overall business profit if all employees in a company had this as their daily objective?
In summary, a displayed mission statement is a constant reminder to employees and customers of the company’s mission. When expectations are established and met, customers become satisfied, and satisfied customers return to purchase again.
A mission statement can help a small business achieve its goals.