Some business owners adamantly defend mission statements as a cornerstone of business success while others write them off as a colossal waste of time and energy.
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So what's the real story? How important is a mission statement to your business?
Let's put it this way . . . The most successful businesses in the marketplace all have mission statements that clearly and precisely describe their activities and guide their decision-making processes. Not surprisingly, top-tier companies also have statements that demonstrate some of the key elements in effective mission statements. Here is a sampling of some of the best mission statements and the lessons you can learn from them.
Some of the most effective mission statements provide a simple, no-frills description of the company's reason for being. For example, take a look at Yahoo's mission statement:
To be the most essential global internet service for consumers and businesses.
Sounds simple, right? But in one sentence it describes the company's core competency, it's geographic territory, and customer base. Likewise, your mission statement should attempt to describe the scope of your activities in the simplest possible manner. Your description of how you achieve your mission can go on for paragraphs, but as a rule, the mission statement itself should be a single sentence that could be easily understood by an elementary school student.
Successful mission statements can also be used to communicate the company's values to the world and to remind employees of the central role those values play in the life of the business. For example, Pilgrim's Pride food company places a high value on customer satisfaction. Consequently, their mission statement reads:
Our job is outstanding customer satisfaction . . . Everyday.
Sure, Pilgrim's Pride's primary activity is still food production. But employees are reminded that they are doing more than just making food products. Their primary job and core value is to satisfy their customers.
An effective mission statement can describe lofty goals for the company, even if the attainment of those goals may never be fully realized. Amazon.com's mission statement is a good example of a far-reaching goal:
To be the most customer-centric company in the world, where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online.
That's a pretty tall order. For starters, it's impossible to measure whether or not any company is the most "customer-centric" company in the world. It's also impossible for a single company to provide access to anything anyone would ever want to buy. Nonetheless, that is the goal Amazon tries to achieve - and their company has been a phenomenal success because of it.