A mission statement is one of the most important documents you will ever write. It is the foundation of your company’s identity. It tells the world who you are, what you do, and what you’re all about.
In this chapter, you’ll learn how to write a powerful mission statement that will set you and your company apart from the competition. You’ll also discover how to use a mission statement as a marketing tool to attract and retain customers. Finally, you will learn how your mission statement can help you grow your business.
The mission statement you write for your business is as important as the business plan you write. If you don’t write a good mission statement, you won’t have a good business plan, and your business won’t be able to grow. If your company doesn’t grow, it will eventually die.
## Knowing what to do with your mission
If you’re like most business owners, you probably have a vision for what you want your company to look like in the future. You may even have a rough idea of how you plan to get there. However, you may not have a clear picture of what your company is all about right now. If that’s the case, you’re not alone. Most small business owners don’t know what their company’s mission is. They have a vague idea of what they want their company to be, but they don’t really know what they’re trying to accomplish. In other words, they have no idea why they started their company in the first place. They may not even know why they want to be in business for the rest of their lives!
Fortunately, you don;t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out your mission. All you have to do is ask yourself a few simple questions. The answers to these questions will help you determine your mission and give you a better understanding of why you’re in business in the long run. In the following sections, I explain how to answer these questions, and I show you how you can use your answers to create a mission that will help your company grow and prosper for years to come.
If you can’t come up with a clear mission statement for your company, don’t worry. You don’t have to have a perfect mission statement to be successful. In fact, some of the best companies in the world don’t even have mission statements. But if you’re serious about growing your business, you need to know what you stand for and why your customers should buy from you instead of from your competitors. The clearer you are about your mission, the easier it will be for you to attract new customers and keep your current customers happy. So take a few minutes to think about these questions and write down your answers. You can do this exercise in your notebook or on your computer using a word-processing program, such as Microsoft Word or WordPerfect.
## Discovering What Your Company Is All About
Visit www.dummies for an online version of this book with bonus content and a link to a printable version of the exercise at the end of this chapter that you can print out and use to help you answer the questions in this chapter. You won’t find the answers in this book, but you can find them in the online version.
## Figuring Out What You’re All About
WHEN YOU START a business, one of your first tasks is to determine what your business stands for. After all, you want to make sure that you’re offering something that people want to buy. You also want to find out what your customers are looking for and what they expect from your products and services. You need to be clear about these things before you start selling. Otherwise, you run the risk of offering something your customers don’t want or something they can get somewhere else for a lot less money. If this happens, your business will suffer, and you may even lose your customers. In this section, I help you figure out what kind of business you’re starting and how you’re going to differentiate yourself from your competition. I also show you what to look for when you’re shopping for a product or service to sell to your customers and how to avoid common mistakes that other business owners make when they try to sell their products and/or services to their customers.
Don’t confuse your mission with your vision. Your vision is the end result you hope to achieve with your company. Your mission, on the other hand, is the reason why you started your company and the kind of company you want it to be. The two are not the same, and they shouldn’t be confused. If they are, you can end up doing a lot of things that aren’t in your best interest. For example, if you set out to be the number-one manufacturer of widgets in the United States, your mission may be to become the biggest widget manufacturer in the country. But your vision is to become a leader in the widget industry. If, in the process, you lose sight of your vision, you could end up making widgets that are inferior to those made by other companies. As a result, your company may lose customers and eventually fail. So make sure you’re clear about your vision and mission when you start your business.
If you’re having trouble figuring out what you’re all about, ask yourself these questions:
– What do I want to accomplish with my company?
Why am I starting my own business? What’s my vision for the company? What does the company stand for? What kind of products or services do I plan to offer? What do my customers expect from me? What am I going to do to make my company stand out in the marketplace?
These questions may seem like a lot to answer, but the more you think about them, the more clarity you’ll have about your business and what it’s all about. If you need help coming up with an answer to any of the questions, take some time to talk to your family, friends, and business associates. Ask them what they think you should be doing and why. You may be surprised at the answers they give you.
## Determining Your Business’s Unique Selling Proposition
I introduce you to the concept of your company’s unique selling proposition (USP). This is the one thing that makes your company different from all the other companies in your industry. Your USP is the main reason your customers choose to do business with you over your competitors, and it’s the reason they keep coming back for more. In other words, your USP tells your customers why they should choose your company instead of your competitors’.
In this chapter, you find out how to identify your USPs, how to use them to attract and keep customers, and what to do when you discover that your competitors have a better USP than you do. You discover all this and much more in the pages that follow. So read on, and good luck with your business!