By Neya Abdi on Aug 2, 2017 12:00:24 PM
What propels your employees out of bed and to the office? If your response is, “A regular paycheck” then you’ve got a problem on your hands.
A clearly defined mission statement provides purpose, focus, and direction for everyone in your organization regardless of their role. Everybody from your social media coordinator to your front-end developer should know what your company’s about and what vision of the world you’re working towards.
On a technical level, writing a mission statement is not difficult. It outlines your company’s vision, goals, and culture. Your mission statement may be a one-liner or it may take up several paragraphs on your About page.
Either way, failing to make one is not an option.
Gives Your Team A Sense of Direction and Focus
Responsibilities differ from role to role, but everybody in a company is accountable to its mission. That is, if it has one. Don’t underestimate the value of a clear mission statement. It can either support or undermine your company’s ability to meet its objectives. Your mission statement informs your organizational goals which inform your strategy which informs your tactics. If that first piece is rotten, it’ll blur everything else down the line as well.
For example, Facebook’s mission statement is to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”. Despite its size, the social networking giant retains its focus on networking and connectivity.
One example of this is its recent focus on Groups to encourage the types of meaningful connections people don’t typically associate with social media. Facebook recently introduced a questionnaire feature that admins can use to screen candidates. The idea is to prevent trolls and cultivate genuine communities.
Differentiates You From The Competition
There’s likely a dozen other startups doing something similar to you. The trick is telling the story of what makes you different. What does your budgeting app offer that’s different from the other budgeting apps out there? What kind of person uses your app compared to other apps that provide the same service? What’s the narrative around your startup? Why should anyone care?
Your mission statement answers all of this and subsequently guides you and your team. Check out Freshbooks. Freshbooks is an accounting software for small business owners. If that’s where their story started and ended, it’d be an underwhelming story indeed.
Instead, they clearly define their mission as “Reshaping the world to suit the needs of self-employed professionals”. Sophisticated tools that were once considered the realm of larger “more serious” companies are now at the disposal of smaller, but just as serious, business owners.
So instead of an accounting company that just provides an invoice generator, Freshbooks becomes a company that empowers enterprising individuals. This purpose then informs everybody from the junior developer working on the software to the marketing coordinator creating their messaging.
Outlines Your Vision For The World
A great mission statement can set your company up as a vital player in this little game called, “Making the world a better place”. While it sounds corny, it can be effective in two ways. One: It introduces a sense of focus and purpose for your employees. Two: It provides a model for the type of world people want to live in.
The people behind Airbnb used this approach to their advantage by positioning themselves as a community as opposed to just a hospitality company with the mission statement, “Belong anywhere”. That mission statement is the difference between a house (“rental service”) and a home (“community”). It’s an emotional appeal to people who want to believe in a world where trust and connectedness are not things of the past.
Now, this approach isn’t just about some warm fuzzies. It’s also useful for informing how swiftly your company responds to less than savory situations, like Airbnb’s banning of discriminatory hosts. It's not a band-aid solution, but a clear mission statement is one way to hold every member of your startup, from your leadership to your customer service reps, accountable to its values.
A clear vision attracts talented people and convinces them to stick around, especially when it comes to today’s workers who want a sense of purpose from their job. Hole yourself up in your office or round up your teammates for a brainstorming session. Whatever your method, get started crafting that mission statement.
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