How to write a powerful mission statement for your small business

by Maxine Bremner

Published • 29/04/2024 | Updated • 29/04/2024

Marketing

How to write a powerful mission statement for your small business

by Maxine Bremner

Published • 29/04/2024 | Updated • 29/04/2024

Marketing

Writing a mission statement provides you with a statement that summarises your business quickly and succinctly.

It’s a useful exercise for aligning brand values, informing decisions about your strategy, setting yourself apart from the competition and communicating your business’s purpose to your target market, new and existing employees and stakeholders.

In this guide on how to write a mission statement, we’ll take a closer look at the elements and purpose of a good mission statement, and walk you through how you can write your own mission statement for your small business.

What is a mission statement in business?

A simple mission statement definition is a statement in text form that summarises your business, explaining its purpose in a way that’s easy for anyone to understand.

Aside from being an important branding element, mission statements can also act as an anchor for your vision. This helps provide you with a set of guidelines to refer back to as you make decisions for your business’s long-term development.

This is especially helpful as new staff, business partners, or suppliers become involved in your business. These are individuals who need to quickly build an understanding of your business and its overarching direction, motivation and values.

Some of the information that’s included in typical mission statements include:

  • The main products and services your business provides

  • The pain point you are addressing for your target customer

  • Where your business operates

  • How you carry out your main activities

  • The reason why your business exists and the bigger goal of your brand

Although a mission statement serves an important, practical purpose, it shouldn’t be completely utilitarian.

Your mission statement should not only communicate key facts about your business but also give readers an idea of your brand identity.

Making a point to include your values, ethics, and other elements that are important to your brand will help you build an emotional connection with your audiences and customers, and further develop the core identity of your brand.

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When you’re first beginning to develop your business, possibly as a solo entrepreneur or the head of a very small team, creating a mission statement may not be high on your list of priorities.

Some merchants may even question ”are mission statements still relevant?” when first researching whether it’s necessary for their industry or size of operation.

Though running a business without a mission statement is certainly possible, mission statements provide a number of benefits that it’s important to consider as a merchant.

Here are some of the main reasons why it’s important to have a mission statement as a small business:

It gives your business a sense of identity

One of the biggest benefits of a mission statement is that it allows you to summarise the guiding principles and identity of your business.

Using a mission statement to formalise a set of core principles which you can refer back to when making decisions will help you build a stronger, more distinct brand.

This will give you a clear sense of purpose to inform important decisions, for example the core messaging of your marketing strategy and future diversification of new products and services.

It will also prevent confusion among your target market. As customers begin to familiarise themselves with your business and understand what you’re looking to accomplish, it’s important to communicate a clear purpose, value, and goal of your business.

It guides workplace culture

As your business grows, crafting a distinct culture to consciously create and maintain a positive workplace environment for your small business becomes more and more important.

Mission statements give you an opportunity to codify the values and beliefs of your brand which you’ll reflect in the way you employ people and tend to their needs at work.

Summarising your workplace culture in your mission statement can help: 

  • Guide your team’s approach to work as you collectively work towards the bigger picture goals of your business

  • Attract the kind of team members who share similar goals or values 

  • Develop a distinct workplace culture

It improves performance

As a small business owner, you’ll have to act in several different roles in your business’s early stages. The same might be true of the first few people you hire as permanent employees.

Though the different tasks you’ll have to attend to as an entrepreneur may have their own separate goals, having a formal mission statement will give you an overarching goal you can use to reference periodically to make sure you’re on the right track.

As you grow your business and hire permanent staff, this sense of direction can also help to encourage staff to hold themselves to your business’s standards, consistently producing quality work and improved customer service.

What makes a good mission statement? 4 key elements

As mission statements provide such an important central pillar for your business development, it’s essential to fully understand the mission statement definition and take a methodical approach to writing yours.

Here are four key elements to consider when writing a mission statement to ensure the finished product is as effective as possible:

MISSION

  • What do you do? 

  • Who is your business serving?

  • What are the pain points or problems that your business solves?

  • How do you solve the problem, challenge or issue for your market?

GOALS

  • What do you hope to achieve in the next year?

  • What do you hope to achieve in the next 10 years?

  • What does success look like for your business in the future?

  • What are you looking to achieve? What is the end goal?

  • How will your business evolve?

PURPOSE

  • Why do you do it?

  • What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

  • How do you serve your target market better than existing competitors?

VALUES

  • Why do you do it?

  • What do you believe in as a company?

  • How would you describe your business if it were a real person?

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Who is your mission statement for?

A mission statement isn’t simply a formality to include as part of your business. It needs to effectively communicate a message to stakeholders, customers, and the team members you want to be part of your business.

Like any kind of content you attach your business’s name to, it’s essential to consider your audience through detailed market research when you’re developing your mission statement.

There are different ways you can tailor your mission statement to the various segments of the audience that it will ultimately be read by:

  • Customers: Articulating the Unique Selling Point (USP) of your products or services and how this ultimately benefits your target audience.

  • Employees: Exploring the values at the root of your culture which employees can align themselves with, and the business’s overarching goals which everyone’s work should contribute towards.

  • Investors: Include assurances about your business model’s profitability, while also outlining efforts you’ve made to keep your business activities ethical and socially responsible.

How long should a mission statement be?

When writing a mission statement, merchants should aim to keep it as brief as possible while incorporating all the key information.

Generally, mission statements are only between 1 and 3 sentences long, and don’t exceed 100 words.

To keep your mission statement succinct, try to summarise your business’s core values and purpose in as few words as possible, avoiding overly detailed creative language or complex jargon. 

Mission statement template

Mission statements can vary considerably depending on the needs of a business. However, making sure you’re including certain common elements will make it easier to finalise a mission statement that feels familiar and easy to understand.

Here’s a mission statement template you can follow to simplify the creation process and keep your mission statement aligned with common conventions.

Business overview (50 words maximum)

The opening and core of your mission statement should act as a general introduction to your business and its main activities. 

This should list your main products or services while highlighting their USPs to differentiate your brand from the competition. 

Beliefs and values (25 words maximum)

To further distinguish your brand and make your mission statement unique, you should also briefly explore the principles that guide your brand’s decision-making. 

Target customer (25 words maximum)

Finally, include information on the customers your business is focused on serving. 

This part of your mission statement should demonstrate a thorough understanding of your customer base to your customers, potential partners, and anyone else reading the statement.

Here’s an example of how these 3 sections might work in a finished mission statement:

To [business overview] with a commitment to [beliefs and values], helping [target customer] to achieve [desired outcome].

By keeping your mission statement short and to the point, you’ll ensure the writing is practical and useful, and prevent the core message from being lost.

What should a mission statement accomplish?

Though short and simple, a well-formulated mission statement can be a significant cornerstone to many functions of your business.

A robust mission statement should be effective at communicating your values to customers as a way of building trust and customer loyalty in your brand.

It can help to clarify the purpose of your company and any core values that direct your operations, supporting your efforts to attract customers whose own values align with yours.

Your mission statement can also help you develop better operational clarity, serving as a single fixed guide for you to refer back to and make sure your decisions are contributing to the core purpose of the business.

Considering the different aims your mission statement can achieve is an important preparatory step in writing a statement that will help you accomplish those goals.

What should you avoid when writing a mission statement?

While you work on including mission statement traits that are going to make it effective, it’s also important to stay aware of the things that can undermine it.

Some common pitfalls to avoid for small business owners writing a mission statement include:

  • Using ambiguous and vague language that fails to clearly communicate your business’s mission, goals, purpose and value.

  • Using generic terms when describing your business’s key USPs in a way that fails to distinguish it from competitors.

  • Using industry jargon could risk alienating people in your target market.

  • Writing a mission statement that has a singular focus on profitability, and fails to address less tangible aspects like your brand’s values and culture.

When should a business create a mission statement?

A mission statement should serve as an important guiding principle for a business’s long-term development. However, it certainly shouldn’t be static. 

As a small merchant, we recommend that you review your mission statement every few months and prepare to change it incrementally to reflect changes in your business.

Here are some of the key milestones in your business’s development that will help you recognise when it’s time to create and review your business’s mission statement:

The early planning phase

When you’re first considering a small business idea and sketching out a rough vision for your business, recruiting staff or attracting investors might not be the most urgent thing on your mind.

However, writing a mission statement can still give you a strategic anchor and help you make the right calls as you develop your business plan and get closer to launching.

When you first launch your business

Your business’s launch day is a pivotal moment when you move from refining ideas and planning your business development to actually trading.

This makes it a great time to write your mission statement and create a more informed roadmap for how you’ll work on your business in the future.

When customers and potential employees find your business online, your mission statement will allow them to quickly understand your business’s guiding principles and vision for the future.

During strategic shifts or review periods

When your business sees periods of major growth or other significant changes that affect its strategy, it’s a good idea to revisit the topic of your mission statement and make sure that it reflects your strategy.

This can coincide with other strategic reviews of your business, such as when you’re conducting a SWOT analysis or improving your social media for your small business.

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What is the difference between a vision and a mission statement? 

When you’re looking into how to write a mission statement, you might come across materials that use the terms vision and mission statement interchangeably.

This can be confusing when you’re trying to create a mission statement that’s fit for purpose and gives its audience a cohesive idea of your business’s purpose.

Here’s a brief look at vision statements to help you understand the difference between mission and vision statements, and the correct way to approach each one.

What is a vision statement?

Like a mission statement, a vision statement is a short piece of text that summarises the goals and purpose of your business. Though mission and vision statements are closely related, they’re written with slightly different functions in mind.

  • A mission statement should communicate an accurate idea of what your business is at present and the usual activities it engages in.

  • A vision statement focuses on the long-term plans for your business, and should convey what you hope your business will become in the future.

Many vision statements are also written for a more internal audience of co-founders, employees and investors, whereas mission statements are public-facing and intended to be read by customers as well as people more closely involved in your company.

Here are some of the key elements of a good vision statement to help you write your own and distinguish it from your mission statement:

  • Forward-thinking and focused on your long-term vision for your business

  • Motivating for employees and inspirational for potential investors

  • Reflective of your business’s values and culture

  • Addresses the strategies you’ll use to improve your business in the long-term and to help achieve longer-term goals

Best business mission statement examples

Knowing what a successful mission statement looks like can give you a lot of powerful inspiration when running a small business.

Studying mission statements and understanding what makes them effective will help you create a mission statement that’s unique to your brand, yet suitable for a business in your particular industry.

Here’s five highly effective mission statement examples from both small businesses and large brands to help you plan and compose your own.

Chili Punk - Specialist chilli store

At Chili Punk Berlin we are committed to growing the highest quality plants and providing the highest quality seeds from organic sources in Europe. It's our mission to fill all the underused balcony, garden and sunny spaces in Berlin with people growing high quality food for themselves.

Chili Punk’s mission statement differentiates its business from other brands in the chilli products market. By emphasising its commitment to quality organic ingredients and its localised goal of helping customers in Berlin grow high-quality food.

The Ten Green Bottles Co. - Independent craft cocktails bar with private functions

Our mission was to create a comfortable, stylish, safe environment to enjoy our many offerings. We began in specialist craft beers and gins and grew into offering premium well priced drinks products from both major and independent suppliers.

The Ten Green Bottles Co. mission statement effectively conveys its brand identity. 

They promise a “comfortable, stylish, safe environment” while distinguishing from competitors by mentioning the mix of suppliers it works with to give customers a unique offering.

Asimi Studio - Hand-crafted jewellery brand

Asími is a transparent jewellery brand, making everything by hand here in London using recycled sterling silver and ethically sourced stones. Sustainability is at the heart of Asími and we love curating timeless pieces that will empower and fill you with confidence.

Asimi Studio’s mission statement succinctly lists the brand’s unique values, while conveying the “personal touch” aspect at the core of their brand identity by telling the reader that all their pieces are hand made in London.

This language speaks directly to an aspirational target audience who are looking for personalised, exclusive products.

Starbucks - Global coffee shop chain

To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup, and one neighbourhood at a time.

Starbucks’ mission statement is short and simple, effectively conveying its brand identity in as few words as possible. 

Though Starbucks is a world-famous global corporation, the emphasis on the individual and local communities makes the brand feel more familiar and appeals to the business’s diverse target audience.

Walt Disney Company - Entertainment media conglomerate

The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world's premier entertainment company.

Disney’s mission statement succinctly conveys its multifaceted role and far-reaching influence in the entertainment industry. 

While the mission statement summarises Disney’s purpose as a business, it also effectively conveys its brand’s values by expressing its commitment to “inform and inspire people around the globe”.

Examples of weak mission statements 

Like any element of your small business branding, there’s a right way and a wrong way to approach writing your mission statement.

To give you a better idea of what to avoid when you come to write your mission statement, we’ve created 3 examples of weak mission statements from fictional businesses.

XYZ Electronics - E-commerce electronics retailer

To sell a range of quality electronics for both domestic and professional applications. Our robust logistics network allows us to deliver to customers across the world, and ensure an unparalleled level of convenience and efficiency.

This mission statement is too general, failing to provide any insight into what makes the brand unique. 

The mission statement also fails to provide any specific idea of the kinds of customers and staff that XYZ Electronics is hoping to attract.

ABC Eco-Solutions - Environmental consultant

We help businesses to make their operations more sustainable and reduce their environmental footprint with tailored solutions, using the latest technology and research to keep our clients ahead of the environmental curve.

This mission statement does a good job of communicating the business’s main activities. However, the simplicity of the statement and pragmatic focus fail to convey any discernible brand identity. It also fails to mention the company values that distinguish ABC Eco-Solutions from its competitors.

Fitness 789 - Gym

We help people achieve their dreams and discover new potential they never knew they had.

This mission statement is overly short, and focuses on a vague sentiment of the business’s brand identity, without conveying any information on what products or services it offers. 

This leaves the reader guessing about how their business hopes to achieve the aim of their mission statement.

How to create a mission statement for your small business in 4 steps

Now that you’re familiar with what an effective mission statement is, you’ll be ready to create your own mission statement for your small business.

Here’s how to write a mission statement in 4 steps.

Get your team involved

If you’re a solo entrepreneur or filling your staffing needs with periodic outsourcing, you might be your business’s one and only stakeholder. 

However, if you do have permanent staff at your business, it’s beneficial to get the team involved in creating your mission statement as early as possible.

By involving all the people who are responsible for the direction and success of your business, you’ll reduce the risk of disagreements, confusion, and a mission statement that could make future employees and customers feel alienated or confused.

Hold a brainstorming session

Whether by yourself or with the other members of your team, the next step is to set some time aside dedicated to coming up with ideas for your mission statement.

During this session, you should consider a few different questions to help get into a mindset that will help you shape a mission statement that’s a good fit for your business’s direction.

Some of these questions might include:

  • What was the initial inspiration to start your business?

  • What kind of brand identity do you want to convey to customers, staff, and partners?

  • Where will you display your mission statement? 

  • What distinguishing features should you emphasise to set your business apart from your competitors?

Individualise your mission statement’s focus

Because mission statements should be succinct and to the point, it’s important to make sure your mission statement is sufficiently unique.

Individualising your mission statement is an essential part of making sure it serves its purpose of accurately conveying your business’s distinct objectives and USPs.

When working to individualise your mission statement, we recommend gathering a list of your closest competitors’ mission statements and reviewing them.

This competitor analysis will help you articulate the main differences in your business and the best way to frame these in your mission statement.

Revise and refine

Like most elements of your branding, your mission statement should be dynamic and expected to evolve over time. 

It’s important to plan on revising and refining your statement to reflect changes in your business. This could include:

  • Target audience segmentation

  • USPs

  • Overall business goals

  • The launch of a new product line or service

  • Entering a new market 

Once you’ve put your mission statement through several rounds of collaborative redrafting, agree on a point in the future when you’ll come back to revise.

This internal review will give you an opportunity to consider how well your mission statement has stayed aligned with your business’s development, and allow you to refine it further.

Though there are no concrete rules for how often you should revisit your mission statement, we recommend planning to do this six months from the original writing.

This will help you keep your mission statement in-line with any frequent, dynamic changes that can often happen in this period.

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Next steps for your new mission statement

Once you’ve settled on a mission statement that you’re happy with, you’ll be ready to start making it work for you.

Here are some of the ways your small business can apply your mission statement, broadcast its message, and fortify your branding:

Use it in physical marketing materials

Letting people know what your business is all about is essential for healthy growth, especially if you’re a new start-up.

There are a variety of physical marketing materials that can be great places to exhibit your mission statement, such as:

  • Menus

  • Leaflets

  • Your storefront

  • Merchandise

  • Receipts or invoices

  • Direct mail material

Incorporating your mission statement in all your branded materials will ensure that it becomes a core part of your brand identity.

It will leave a lasting impression on anyone who interacts with your marketing and help solidify a connection with your target customers.

Incorporate it into your recruitment

One of the most important functions of a mission statement is to showcase your business’s values and culture as a way of attracting talent that’s best suited to your brand.

Mission statements can be incorporated into job advertisements to spark initial interest and help to resonate with potential recruits who share your values and passion for your company’s mission.

During the onboarding process, it can also be incorporated into welcome packs and staff training documentation to help your staff understand the longer-term goals their role will be serving.

When your business’s mission is central to the entire recruitment process, you’ll be able to help team members understand their role in the business, and how they can support in working towards this shared vision and mission of the brand.

Share it on your digital touchpoints

Even if all of your business activities are done in-person or at a physical location, your digital presence is going to be an important part of your branding.

Some effective ways to exhibit your mission statement on your digital touchpoints include:

  • Create a dedicated page on your online store that features your mission statement and outlines your goals and values

  • If your mission statement is short enough, use it as a headline on your homepage or landing pages, or even as your brand’s slogan

  • Incorporating your mission statement into your small business social media marketing, adding it to your profiles’ About sections or other places where it’s appropriate

  • Incorporate it into your email marketing to support your campaigns with a greater sense of your brand identity

The next step in your mission

Mission statements are an important part of communicating the essence of your business to an audience that will have a major influence over your future success.

We hope this guide has given you everything you need to understand the role your mission statement will play in your business, and how you can approach the topic to create your own effective mission statement.

Disclaimer: The contents of this page are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. For matters requiring legal or financial expertise, it’s recommended to seek guidance from qualified professionals.

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