On A Mission

Q: What type of information is included in a mission statement? How long should it be?
–J. Jones, Via the Internet

A: A mission statement is just that—a statement. It should convey the goal and ideals of the company and its employees without being long and drawn out. Disney has a great one that’s just four words: “To make people happy.”

Though a statement that’s terse doesn’t necessarily work for every business, your mission statement should be no longer than a few concise but informative sentences. It should explain what your company does and why.
As you create your mission statement, consider the following concepts:

  • The moral/ethical position of the enterprise
  • The desired public image for the company
  • The key strategic influence for the business
  • A description of the business’ target market
  • A description of its products/services
  • The geographic domain
  • Expectations of growth and profitability

For inspiration, I’d recommend reading The Mission Statement Book: 301 Corporate Mission Statements from America’s Top Companies by Jeffrey Abrahams (Ten Speed Press; $24.95). It lists mission statements from many corporate giants. For instructional guidance, I recommend The Mission Primer: Four Steps to an Effective Mission Statement by Richard O’Hallaron and David O’Hallaron (Mission Incorporated; $19), which lays out simple instructions on creating and adhering to your corporate vision.

Keep in mind that along with a business or succession plan, mission statements should be updated as your company evolves. Don’t be afraid to revisit the statement when needed.