According to the "Marketing Essentials" school book, a mission statement is "A brief paragraph or two that describes the ultimate goals of a company." What is your company about? What is your intent by being in business? What do you stand by when you do business?
Asking yourself the questions above can help you determine what you want to communicate to a general audience about your company and it's goals. A mission statement can help you determine a tag line. A mission statement can be presented on your Web site, in your business plan, marketing plan, displayed on your wall in your business, presented in a press release or any other number of advertising and marketing efforts.
Many times, a small business is a one-man show, so why develop a mission statement? Having a brief description of the ultimate goals of your company and why it exists helps you develop your 30-second elevator speech, present succinct communications to your audience, and identify your products or services being offered. In essence, developing your mission statement helps you think more clearly.
My mission statement originally was "to provide reasonably priced professional writing and graphic design services to new and small businesses." First, I made sure I was priced reasonably, then I targeted my audience of small businesses and further developed the messages I would communicate based on the audience. As my business has developed and I have found different audiences, my mission statement has adjusted to "provide reasonably priced professional technical and marketing writing and graphic design services to businesses of all sizes."
A mission statement generally reflects the goals of a business. My goals adjusted slightly in that my target audience became broader in order to include larger companies that I can do contract work for in either technical documentation or marketing writing. That slight change enabled me to see where I needed to update my Web site and change the information presented, or at least how the information is presented.
Once you have researched, developed and written your mission statement, it's done, right? Wrong. Just as your business and marketing plan is a living, dynamic document to be re-evaluated on a regular basis for a number of reasons, your mission statement needs to be evaluated and reviewed on a regular basis as well. With your business growth changes may occur, or you may need to be reminded of your focus, purpose, and mission on a regular basis in order to make decisions that are best for the business direction.
Sometimes small businesses are a work in progress. Remember that when you are a new entrepreneur, you don't always know everything and as you receive feedback and input from your audience, peers and yourself, listen to that information to help develop your goals and focus, which eventually strengthens your mission statement as you improve your direction. Word of caution: Don't allow others' opinions to make your goals and mission statement seem like a moving target. The purpose of that mission statement is to communicate to them and others where you are planted in your direction and business focus as well as what is important to your business.