Business Plan Element: The Mission Statement

In a previous post we discussed the top five reasons outdoor businesses should strategically plan. We will examine major elements of the business plan over the course of the next several small business posts. First up – the mission statement. Think of it as your headlamp: illuminating the big picture purpose of your organization, shining a light on who your customers are, and creating a way forward into the future.

A well-crafted mission statement serves as the foundation for the rest of your business plan, a guiding light for decision making. It should be succinct, interesting, memorable, and authentic. This one sentence, maybe 10-15 words max if you can do it, will define how your customers interact with you. It’s okay to bring a little emotion into the process.

While brainstorming what your organization’s purpose in business is, consider:

(1) What is it that you are selling?

(2) To whom are you selling it?

(3) What are your organization’s goals (they should be SMART – specific, measurable, actionable, results-focused, and timely)?

(4) What are your values?

(5) What is your future? Are you economically viable a year from now? Five years from now?

This will likely generate a fair amount of discussion – or if you’re like me and are a sole proprietorship – a fair amount of notes (I’ll only admit to talking to myself occasionally…). The trick now is to distill it down to something that will resonate with you and your target audience.

My first crack at my own mission statement looked like this:

Kate Ming-Sun Outdoors strives to provide quality, engaging, evocative narrative and images whether through written pieces or images. My aim is to provide thoughtful pieces to readers from armchair travelers to seasoned adventurers looking for their next jaunt.

Not very memorable, is it? Nor is it completely representative of the direction I took my business in and it’s far too long to boot.

For the moment I am working with “To provide advice to business owners and inspiration to readers to spend more time outside.” It’s more concise and more accurate of where I’m at with my business, especially who my clients are. It is missing some future-oriented specificity but as you’ll see in the next few posts, I address that further along in my business plan.

Finally, my tagline – Spend More Time Outside – is the memorable and authentic one-two punch my customers remember my business by.

There are a wide variety of websites out there with examples of not-for-profit mission statements, Fortune 500 company mission statements, how to write them, how NOT to write them. You can cut through all of that noise if you have a good handle on what is core and essential to your organization and your customers. Keep your mission statement simple and from the heart of your business; your customers will buy in.

Up for Discussion: Do you have businesses whose missions and/or taglines resonate with you? Share them below.

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