Crafting a Mission Statement is Crucial to Success
"I believe that purpose and principle, clearly understood and articulated, and commonly
shared, are the genetic code of any healthy organization. To the degree that you hold purpose
and principles in common among you, you can dispense with command and control. People will
know how to behave in accordance with them, and they'll do it in thousands of unimaginable,
creative ways. The organization will become a vital, living set of beliefs." - Dee Hock
One of the most oft-repeated pieces of business advice ever written was from author and
corporate trainer Stephen Covey, who admonished us to "begin with the end in mind."
Covey believed that the critical piece of beginning at the end involved a carefully conceived
and constructed mission statement. He observed: "If you don't set your goals based upon your
Mission Statement, you may be climbing the ladder of success only to realize, when you get
to the top, you're on the WRONG BUILDING."
Covey posited that there is a two-step creation process for all things: a mental creation
and a physical creation that follows the mental just as a building follows a blueprint. If
you fail to develop a firm visualization of who you are and what you want to get out of life,
you give carte blanche to others to define you, mold you, and impose their visions on your life.
The default setting for having no understanding of your own uniqueness, values, and personal
guidelines is to be forever at the mercy of the whims of those around you. This is certainly true
for business owners and you can see it happening all the time.
Without even realizing it, business owners who have developed no clear idea of who they
are or what they want their business to become often find themselves limping along, putting
out fires, and stuck in survival mode. They can barely get through the present; much less put
any thought into the future. Most of them have no plans in place for the day when they will
want or need to leave the businesses.
Often times, the lack of business succession planning can be directly linked to the fact
that the business never had a personal mission or purpose statement in place.
Many small to mid-sized business owners balk at the idea of developing a personal mission
statement, believing it to be some kind of New Agey fluff or a high-minded exercise for the
Fortune 500 crowd.
However, research has shown that truly successful people have clarity of thought and
purpose and a well-defined sense of who they are in the world. They tend to see themselves
as a brand to be developed, nurtured and cultivated.
High achievers in the business world know they can gain more focus by developing a well-thought-out
statement of purpose, regardless of the size of their enterprises. They see their personal
or company mission statement as a touchstone for the times when things aren't going according
to plan and the darkness seems to be closing in on them.
Contrast this with "average" companies and people, who view themselves as victims and
react to life's inevitable ups and downs. Top achievers live their mission statements and take
full ownership of their fulfillment, regardless of circumstances.
Successful individuals and companies don't wait until everything around them improves
or until others get with the plan. They know that they themselves must get better so they can
achieve their goals no matter what anyone else is doing.
Your personal or company missions statement, constructed on a framework of clearly defined,
specific goals, can be a deciding factor in whether you reach the top 3% or languish in the
In every company, things can and do get tough. If you don't know why you're in your business
in the first place, then being an owner could become a nightmarish jail sentence.
Having a personal or corporate mission statement hanging on your wall or next to your
computer provides a gentle reminder that it is all worth it. It reminds you why you are here
in the first place, and it provides a guidepost for decision making during the course of your
business and afterward, as you are planning your exit.
So, what exactly IS a statement of purpose or personal mission statement and how can
you use it to build a company that will be attractive to buyers when the time comes to sell?
All mission statements are built around the primary element of goals. Before putting
pen to paper, you should sit down and have a candid and open conversation with yourself about
your real goals. Write your goals down and consider how achievable and realistic they truly are.