What Is a Mission Statement?

A mission statement is used by a company to explain, in simple and concise terms, its purpose(s) for being. The statement is generally short, either a single sentence or a short paragraph.

Key Takeaways

  • A mission statement is used by a company to explain, in simple and concise terms, its purpose(s) for being.
  • It is usually one sentence or a short paragraph, explaining a company's culture, values, and ethics.
  • Mission statements serve several purposes, including motivating employees and reassuring investors of the company's future.

How a Mission Statement Works

Mission statements serve a dual purpose by helping employees remain focused on the tasks at hand, and encouraging them to find innovative ways of moving toward increasing their productivity with the eye to achieving company goals.

A company’s mission statement defines its culture, values, ethics, fundamental goals, and agenda. Furthermore, it defines how each of these applies to the company's stakeholders—its employees, distributors, suppliers, shareholders, and the community at large. These entities can use this statement to align their goals with that of the company.

The statement reveals what the company does, how it does it, and why it does it. Prospective investors may also refer to the mission statement to see if the values of the company align with theirs. For example, an ethical investor against tobacco products would probably not invest in a company whose mission is to be the largest global manufacturer of cigarettes.

It is not uncommon for large companies to spend many years and millions of dollars to develop and refine their mission statements. In some cases, mission statements eventually become household phrases.

Mission statements aren't just for small or large companies. Many 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 an individual maintain a healthy work/life balance that increases their personal achievement in all of these areas.

A company’s mission is its identity, and its vision is its journey to accomplishing its mission.

Drafting a Mission Statement

While it may be difficult to narrow down the focus of your company in a single statement, here are some tips to help you write a good mission statement.

  • First, outline what your company does. This may be a good you produce or a service you provide to your customers—whatever makes your business run.
  • Next, describe the way in which your company does what it does. Instead of being technical—that's not the point here—think of what values go into the core of your business. Maybe you value quality or customer service, or being sustainable, or you foster creativity and innovation in your business. These are key points to outline in your mission statement.
  • Finally, include why you do what you do in your mission statement. This is key. It helps you stand out as a business, highlighting what sets you apart from the others in your industry. Remember to keep the mission statement short and to the point.

After you've drafted it, remember to look it over, edit it, and have someone else give it a once over. After you've approved it, you'll need to find a way to incorporate it wherever you can, including on your website or as part of your ad campaigns—anywhere that will visible to your stakeholders.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Mission Statements

Companies can benefit from having a mission statement. First, it outlines a company's goals and position in the industry for its customers and other stakeholders. It also helps the organization focus and stay on track to make the right decisions about its future.

Furthermore, the mission statement helps clarify a company's purpose. With a mission statement, a company's customers and investors can rest assured that the company is fully committed to achieving its goals and maintaining its values. It is also useful to guide and motivate employees, keeping them in line with the company's values.

But there are drawbacks to having a mission statement. Mission statements may sometimes be very lofty and far too unrealistic, which can distract employees from the company's goals. Even though a mission statement is short and concise, it may take a lot of time and money to develop. The resources spent on a bad mission statement could be better spent elsewhere.

Mission Statement Examples

Mission statements vary considerably from company to company. The following examples are the mission statements of some of the trending companies as of 2021:

  • Chipotle (CMG): To provide "food with integrity."
  • MGM Resorts International (MGM): MGM Resorts International is the leader in entertainment and hospitality—a diverse collection of extraordinary people, distinctive brands and best-in-class destinations. Working together, we create partnerships and experiences that engage, entertain and inspire.
  • Nike (NKE): To expand human potential by creating groundbreaking sport innovations, by making our products more sustainably, by building a creative and diverse global team and by making a positive impact in communities where we live and work.
  • Walmart (WMT): We save people money so they can live better.
  • Starbucks (SBUX): To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
  • Tesla (TSLA): To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy.
  • JP Morgan (JPM): To be the best financial services company in the world.

Mission Statements vs. Vision Statements

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. The latter outlines what the company needs to do to remain the way 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.