When you start a business, you’re likely motivated by a higher purpose. While the aim is to be profitable and earn a return on your investment, that’s likely not the only reason you got into entrepreneurial life.
Perhaps you’re starting a health and wellness company to help people de-stress and live better lives. Maybe you’re selling educational toys but the greater purpose is to impart learning and skills among children, giving them a love for experimentation and curiosity at an early age.
A business mission statement aims to articulate the fundamental reason for its existence. It’s squarely focused on the bigger picture i.e. what is the purpose of the company and why will it continue to do what it does?
Shopify’s mission statement is to “make commerce better for everyone, so businesses can focus on what they do best: building and selling their products.” By reading this mission statement, Shopify merchants can understand that the platform will strive to give them the tools to succeed in online commerce. What’s more, it’s also abundantly clear to all Shopify staff that this is their core mission and that all their work is aimed at achieving exactly this.
In this article, you’ll learn the difference between a mission and vision statement, how to craft a mission statement for your firm, and examples of mission statements from blue chip brands.
What is a mission statement
As we mentioned earlier, a mission statement is a sentence or short paragraph outlined by a firm to clearly define its purpose and state the reason for its existence. Outlining a mission statement helps align all stakeholders to the broader goals: customers know what to expect when transacting with the firm, employees understand how their work ties into the mission, and shareholders can help the firm stay on track.
While a mission statement should be developed as part of the overall business plan, it does not go into detailed financial projections or operational benchmarks. Your mission statement should state what your business does, outlines a few of its core values, and share the passion that lead to the creation of it.
Difference between a mission statement and a vision statement
The best way to describe the difference between a mission and vision statement is to understand that a mission statement focuses on where the business is now, while a vision statement outlines its plans for the future.
The two are often used interchangeably, but a vision statement is an articulation of the company’s long-term goals. Ambitious firms are often on a quest to change the world and their vision statement is meant to provide clarity on where they want to be.
For example, Tesla’s mission is to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” Its vision statement is a little different; it reads “create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.”
A mission statement aims to answer the question “who are we?”, and the vision statement takes it a step further by addressing “where are we going?”, or “how are we going to achieve that?”.
Mission statement examples
Now that we have a better understanding of mission statements, let’s take a look at how Southeast Asian companies define their purpose.
Grab started as a ride-hailing company but has now expanded its wings to include food and grocery delivery, fintech products, and hotel bookings. While some of these services may appear different to one another, they all tie into its larger mission.
Grab’s mission statement is to “drive Southeast Asia forward by creating economic empowerment for everyone.” You may notice that there is no mention of ride-hailing or insurance in this; instead, the company has stated its objective to do what it can to improve the lives of residents in the region.
Singapore’s Sea, which operates Garena, Shopee, and Sea Money, facilitates people interested in ecommerce, online gaming, and financial services. Again, these are a wide range of products but all fit neatly under the firm’s mission.
“Our mission is to better the lives of consumers and small businesses with technology,” states Sea.
Singaporean pop culture retail company is best known for its award-winning designs and collaboration with global brands such as Hasbro, DC Comics, and Looney Tunes.
Its mission statement reads:
“With a mission to supercharge future culture phygitally, Mighty Jaxx is building an integrated platform to empower future pop culture brands with end-to-end supply chain of collectibles, including artist development and incubation, proprietary IP operation and providing global consumer access with new retail.”
How to craft a mission statement for your firm
We spoke earlier about how a mission statement is an articulation of what your firm does, how it functions, and why it does so. The challenge is to express this concisely—most mission statements are just a handful of words and, therefore, need to be as precise as possible.
Start by describing what your company does; this could be as simple as whether it sells shoes, builds financial apps, or provides expert marketing services.
Once that’s over, the next step is to describe how your company operates. You’re not expected to go into the details of your operations, rather think about what sets it apart from the rest. Perhaps the shoes you sell are of the highest quality or you’re committed to world-class customer service. Maybe your firm wishes to be carbon-neutral or aligned to a specific social cause.
In this case, you could start thinking along the lines of “My company’s purpose is to sell clothing that highlights the stories of civil rights activists.” This is just an example, the actual mission statement of your firm is likely to be different.
Finally, it’s time to align your emerging mission statement with the spark that started it all in the first place. Perhaps you wished that your business is a force of change in the world, leading to more equity and inclusion. Maybe you wanted it to promote healthy lifestyles. Whatever the passion, it’s clear that you envisage the world slightly different to what it is now.
Be sure to incorporate that passion into the overall mission statement.