What a Mission Statement Really Is

What are you aiming for?

Does your business have a mission statement? Do you know what it is, right now, without looking it up?

If so, I congratulate you. Very impressive! Truly, I don’t think most people could pass this test. Certainly, most employees would not be able to remember the mission statement of the companies they work for, and I doubt many of their bosses would do better.

It’s not hard to figure out why: mission statements are usually boring. Insanely, mind-numbingly boring. They are dreamt up by teams of marketing & branding strategists after pow-wows with all the senior management, and include as much jargon and politically-correct language as possible. And then a VP comes along and adds another sentence or two, just to make sure it’s extra long-winded.

This has become the standard, so most business owners these days figure they have to follow this model. Oh well–all they need to do is get it written, slap it on their website and brochures, and call it a day. They never have to think about it again. Phew.

This is such a shame! Mission statements can actually have real power to help shape a company. If everyone on your team knows your mission statement off by heart and actually strives to live by it, make decisions throughout their work day that are in line with it, and proudly shares it with people outside your organization, magic can happen.

Guy Kawasaki has a great take on this. He doesn’t believe in mission statements at all, but encourages business owners to create mantras. His 5-minute breakdown of this topic is worth watching:


If you don’t have a mission statement (or mantra), create one. Even if it’s for your solopreneur operation. And if you do have one but it’s meaningless or just highly forgettable, create a new one. And please:

  • Make it short
  • Make it inspiring
  • Make it a statement that focuses the energy of your team on what’s really important

What do you think–what makes a mission statement great?

One Response to What a Mission Statement Really Is
  1. John
    October 21, 2011 | 7:04 pm

    This is a great idea. I like Google’s personally. First is collect and organize the world’s information. The second is Do No Evil. Just in those two sentences, we know what they do.
    John recently posted..Utopia Systems Hosted CRMMy Profile

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