What is a 'Mission Statement'

A mission statement is a short sentence or paragraph used by a company to explain, in simple and concise terms, its purpose(s) for being. These statements serve a dual purpose by helping employees to remain focused on the tasks at hand, as well as encouraging them to find innovative ways of moving towards an increasingly productive achievement of company goals.

BREAKING DOWN 'Mission Statement'

A company’s mission statement seeks to define its culture, values, ethics, and fundamental goals, and how these apply to its stakeholders. The statement reveals what the company does, how it does it, and why it does it. A company’s stakeholders – employees, distributors, suppliers, shareholders, community, etc. – use this statement to align their goals with that of the company. Prospective investors may also refer to a mission statement to see if the values of the company aligns with theirs. For example, an ethical investor against tobacco products would probably not invest in a company whose mission is to be the largest manufacturer of cigarettes globally.

A company’s mission statement differs from its vision statement. While the mission statement remains unchanged for the most part and represents who the company is or aspires to be for the entirety of its existence, the vision statement can change and outlines what the company needs to do to remain who it has presented itself to be. In effect a company’s mission is its identity, and the vision is its journey to accomplishing its mission.

Mission statements vary considerably from company to company. The following examples are the mission statements of some of the trending companies as of 2017:

  • Microsoft – Empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – We see equal value in all lives. And so we are dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals around the world.
  • Chipotle – To change the way people think about and eat fast food.
  • MGM Resorts International – The leader in entertainment & hospitality - a diverse collection of extraordinary people, distinctive brands and best in class destinations.
  • Nike – To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
  • Walmart – We save people money so they can live better.
  • Starbucks – To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
  • Tesla – To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy.
  • Airbnb –  Belong anywhere
  • JP Morgan – To be the best financial services company in the world

It is not uncommon for the largest companies to spend many years and millions of dollars developing and refining their mission statement, with many of these mission statements eventually becoming household phrases.

Mission statements aren't just for small or large companies. Many of the most successful individuals, professionals and investors have taken the time to craft a personal mission statement. These personal mission statements often incorporate the financial, professional, spiritual, and relational aspects of life. This in turn helps the individual to keep a healthy work/life balance that increases their personal achievement in all of these areas.

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