Business, Politics, & Society

How to Write an Effective Mission Statement in 3 Steps

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Sep 16, 2019 • 3 min read

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Howard Schultz Business Leadership

Whether you're a small business owner or the chairman of a Fortune 500 company, you’ve probably thought about why you do what you do. If you're serious about your business, it’s because you have a sense of mission. Having that is the first step toward writing a mission statement for your company.

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What Is a Mission Statement?

A company’s mission statement—also known as a vision statement—is an expression of its core values and its purpose.

  • A mission statement is a short, concise one or two sentence phrase that sets forward what a company does, how it does it, and why.
  • It can also include information on where a company is based and its target market or audience. It may also include a general statement about a company’s goals.
  • A mission statement reflects a company’s values, philosophy, and competitive advantages.

Why Does a Good Mission Statement Achieve?

The best mission statements are potent messages for your various audiences, a valuable branding tool that can help inspire your customers, employees, partners, investors, and other stakeholders.

  • A good mission statement helps you differentiate yourself in the marketplace and to attract and retain loyal, dedicated employees.
  • A good mission statement also gets the whole team on the same page, brings your team together, provides an overarching framework of common values to guide your employees, and shows them where your company is going.
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4 Key Questions Every Mission Statement Should Answer

Great mission statements are short and to the point. If it doesn’t fit on a coffee mug or a T-shirt, it’s too long to be useful.

To write an effective mission statement, you need to answer several key questions before you write your mission statement:

  1. What is our business? The answer should encapsulate your company’s core operations.
  2. How are we doing it? The answer should be a values-based description of how you operate and what you’re hoping to achieve.
  3. For whom are we doing it? The answer describes your core customer base.
  4. What are our core values? The answer is the “why” of your company's existence.

Mission Statement Example: Starbucks

Starbucks’ mission statement is a good example of an effective mission statement that answers the above questions. The Starbucks mission statement is:

“To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”

  1. What our business is: “One cup,” i.e., Starbucks is a retailer of coffee.
  2. How we are doing it: Starbucks prioritizes every customer and their community in everything it does.
  3. Whom we serve: You and your community.
  4. What our core values are: To inspire and nurture the human spirit.

Starbucks’ mission statement emphasizes a concern for the well-being of team members, customers, and the community.

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How to Craft an Effective Mission Statement in 3 Steps

Crafting an effective mission statement comes down to asking—and answering—a number of important questions. Ask yourself:

  1. What is your company’s mission? What is its core purpose? Its reason for being? In what ways can the culture be a reflection of these pursuits?
  2. What stories from your life will inform your approach to establishing an organization’s culture? Journal about personal experiences you might draw from in crafting the values and culture of a company.
  3. What are three creative and effective ways you can make a deposit into the “cultural reservoir” of your company? Think about things like: creating learning opportunities for employees, such as guest speakers and author visits; offering in-office meditation and wellness instruction; holding regular all-employee meetings in which people are invited to ask leaders questions and speak freely about the company. All of these things create a culture of trust and transparency.

What Should You Do With Your New Mission Statement?

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Former Starbucks CEO shares lessons from nearly 40 years of leading one of the world’s top brands.

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Your company’s mission statement does little good if you write it and file it away—share it.

  • Make sure you your mission statement with your customers, your employees, your partners, investors, and the public at every opportunity.
  • Put your mission statement on your website, written materials, marketing documents, and internal communications, especially any new hire training documentation.

Want to Become a Better Business Leader?

Whether you’re hiring your first employee or have dreams of making it big in the startup world, running your own business takes determination and hard work. No one knows this better than Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO. In Howard Schultz’s MasterClass on business leadership, the man who rose from a childhood in public housing to leading a company that revolutionized the way the world drinks coffee shares what he knows about growing a 13-store chain into a global brand with more than 250,000 employees.

Want to become a better business leader? The MasterClass All-Access Pass provides exclusive video lessons from master business leaders, including Howard Schultz, Anna Wintour, and more.

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