Sunday, August 9, 2020
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The Hard Work of Mission Statements

It is a beautiful but rare thing to find a mission statement that is both succinct and purposeful, one that truly encapsulates the founding purpose and values of the business, and one that is both realistic and optimistic. But as rare as this is, you might be surprised at how powerful a mission statement can be. Your family business mission statement is the foundation for your business plan, your strategic plans, and every initiative you undertake. It sets the stage for your identity, the “personality” your family business projects to your customers, suppliers and the community. So getting it right is essential.

If your mission statement is mired in ambiguity and clichés, a rewrite may be in order. Examine it to see if it communicates what you do, how you position your business, your strengths, your objectives, your progressiveness, your value on relationships and your perspective on the community. Your mission statement should differentiate you from your competition just as much as your brand does.

Your mission statement should include:

  • The founding purpose of your business – its reason for existence
  • The values and principles that are most important to your family business founders and leaders, which become the reason for all that you do
  • The kind of products and services you offer, along with how they are different than those offered by the competition
  • A description of your target customers and how your business benefits them
  • The kinds of business relationships you have
  • A descriptive statement about your approach to service and how, specifically, it is unique
  • The role of leadership and employees in the organization
  • The role of technology in the organization
  • Words that convey your business’s personality and image
  • Content about your brand – specifically what makes your family business different

With the above list in hand, you see that a good mission statement has to do a lot of work for your business – in only a few sentences. Writing a mission statement therefore will take considerable time and effort. However, with enough contemplation, planning and help, you can construct a meaningful and succinct mission statement. As you begin, be sure to invite people who can offer unique perspectives to contribute, along with key business managers and owners. You’ll find it especially helpful to gather a variety of thoughts and perspectives as you make progress. Meet in a time and place away from distractions and brainstorm ideas, using out-of-the-box, descriptive and powerful words to convey your messages. You may even find it helpful to review mission statements of other businesses and to discuss why those mission statements work or don’t work.

Once you have a mission statement completed, you may even want to conduct an internal focus group to gather feedback. You can include family members, employees and other business contacts you trust. Talk with your focus group about whether your mission statement is realistic but inspiring, communicates the value of your business and is specific, relevant and memorable. Additionally, does it say enough without being too long or complicated?

Then with a mission statement that includes everything your family business needs to communicate its purpose effectively and compellingly, be sure to spread the word! Share your mission statement with not only your employees, but also your customers, suppliers and the community at large. You’ll want to show off the fruits of your labor – and you’ll be communicating a positive, evocative message about your family business and its values. Lastly, be sure to review and tweak it from time to time to ensure that it keeps pace with your family business.

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