Defining your mission statement – the how and why.

The first step in choosing your destination is defining your mission statement.

A business mission statement defines your goals, ethics, culture and behaviour. A complete mission statement defines what the business does, not only for its owners, but also for customers, employees and the community as a whole.

A personal mission statement, on the other hand, is what you want to focus on, accomplish and become in your personal life. It is what guides your actions, behaviours and decisions towards what is most important to you.

As the owner of your business, the two will most likely be closely aligned.

Some examples of mission statements within the building industry include:

  • Bunnings: Our ambition is to provide our customers with the widest range of home improvement products at the lowest prices every day, backed with the best service. Our team members are the heart and soul of our business.
  • Lend lease: To create the best places. We work closely with clients, investors and communities in Australia, Asia, Europe and the Americas to create unique places. Places that leave a positive legacy and inspire and enrich the lives of people around the world.  We do this through putting safety first and delivering innovative and efficient solutions which provide long term sustainable outcomes for a range of stakeholders.
  • Metricon: We’re all about building homes where you’ll truly love to live.

The benefits of having a mission statement which defines who you are, what you do and the values that guide you are:

  • Marketing your business to potential clients – differentiating yourself from your competition by specialising in a certain field or product or target client. Becoming the best at what you do.
  • Assist you in your business planning – as it sets the scene as to why you do what you do. It can help your business attract finance, investment and/or business partners.
  • Gives you purpose and motivation – far beyond just making a profit. It will help guide you to determine the types of products and services you will provide.
  • Helps you with your decision-making – providing you the framework within which you will operate. It’s your compass, your map, your steering wheel.
  • Provides direction to help you through the challenges that business will throw your way – by keeping you focused on what you want to achieve. Sometimes, the easy decision will create a short-term fix. Your mission will help you make the long-term beneficial decision to ultimately get to where you want to go.

If you don’t have a mission statement, on the other hand, you will find yourself having to spend time and resources rectifying poor communication and unwanted cultural behaviour whether that be with clients, employees or other stakeholders. Communication is extremely important in business and it is incumbent upon the owners of the business to clearly communicate to internal (employees and contractors) and external (clients, suppliers, banks and so on) parties their desires for their business.

If all parties do not know what the owner wants to achieve, the business will likely not get there, despite the owner’s efforts. Poor communication will lead to poor decisions and ultimately, poor results – whether that is labour-centric (processes) or material-centric (supplies/suppliers). Both can have significant adverse effects if not managed well and the key to that is communication.

So how do you define your mission? Start by answering the following questions:

  • Why did you decide to go into business for yourself? What were the drivers which led you to make that decision? Was it centred around your own personal desires or that of family, or did friends influence you?
  • Who is your ideal customer? Who do you want to provide your services to? Is it private clients or other businesses? Is it residential or commercial? How will your service make a difference in their lives?
  • What do you want your business to be known for? How do you want your customers and the general public to view your business? How will you influence that view?
  • What are the essential products and services you will provide? How will they be different to your competitors? How will you position yourself in the market? Will it be based on price (low-end) or quality (high-end) or a mix of both?
  • How will your level of service differ from that of your competitors? What will you do differently? How will you be better? Do you know their strengths and weaknesses? How will you take advantage of that?
  • What type of business owner will you be? Will you lead by example? Will you delegate responsibility and authority? Will you empower your employees? Will you mentor your employees?
  • How will you interact with your suppliers? What type of relationship will you have with them? Will you want to have a close relationship with few or a distant relationship with many? How can they help? How can you help them?
  • Will you use technology to your advantage? How will this work? How will it benefit you? Will your processes be more efficient?

Answering the above questions will confirm to you why you are in business and what it is exactly that you really do.

Once you have an idea of why you do what you do and what your business stands for, it’s time to put it into a single statement – a mission statement.

A mission statement will require your time and effort, however, it will be well worth it.

After working through the questions above, I recommend you speak with all the people connected to your business, not matter how big or small your business is. You will gain some great insight into what it is you do well and, if the conversations are honest, some things you might need to work on. They are just as important to you in your business. You should take advantage of the things you do well and work hard to improve on those things that you do not do so well, because they are important to the success of your business. That is where you will derive the most benefit and see an upward spike in your business.

Take the time to do this thoroughly and completely. While a mission statement is generally rather short (that is, only up to a few sentences), it is important for you get the right words together to truly define your mission. Use words wisely to best describe your mission. Less is more, but only if it tells your story.

Once your mission statement is complete, it should be a part of all your marketing and advertising. It should be what drives your business and excites your customers.

Sometimes we simply go through the motions thinking we know what, why and how we do what we do. Don’t just exist – focus on what’s truly important to you and drive every decision and every action to achieve what it is that really matters to you.

We’d love to hear your story and if you think we can help, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Tony Dimitriadis
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