What is one question you should ask yourself when developing a company mission that you are truly passionate about?
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Who Are You Trying to Reach?
The mission statement will shape internal corporate culture and your brand voice. In order to stay focused on your goal, ask yourself who you are trying to reach so you keep that target consumer in mind in everything you do. Who am I trying to reach and how do I reach them most effectively? This will help shape your customer service strategy and marketing initiatives.
2. Will It Fit Existing Company Culture?
Companies work hard at developing a culture, and sometimes this culture takes on its own form due to everyone’s input. Whenever you’re developing a company mission, always see if it will fit your existing company’s culture first. Consult with executive and senior leaders before wasting any energy. If you’re truly passionate, keep iterating and consulting until the mission fits.
3. Are You Making an Impact?
What impact are you making? That’s the one question you should ask yourself. This answer is different for everyone, but it’s the key aspect to any mission. How and why you’re making an impact is also important – it’s the impact that keeps you hungry and gives you something to strive for. When the chips are down and you need to focus, that bigger picture view helps you forge ahead.
4. What’s Your Exit Strategy?
It seems counterintuitive to be thinking about the end at the beginning but this question is a great way to gauge your passion. If you are envisioning a particular type of exit with your idea, it may not be the ideal route of your passion. If you can’t see yourself doing anything else then you’ve certainly found it. It’s a good question for the initial framework of your thinking.
5. Who Cares?
The best businesses pursue a founder-led vision that’s built on the foundation of customer values. It’s important to ask yourself “who cares?” when you develop your company mission. That’s because you want to ensure there is appropriate alignment between what you want out of your business and what your customers want, too.
6. How Can You Make a Difference?
When I was writing the mission for my company, I started with the question “what difference can I make?” to my customers and employees. An impactful mission is one that brings changes to everyone around you and provides a product or service that is different than the existing one. As long as you can formulate that difference, your mission will be impactful.
7. Will Others Share Your Passion?
Make sure your mission is something that will result in buy-in from others on the team because they have to feel just as passionate about it. Think about how to make it universally engaging and meaningful to everyone who is working on the team. This may involve asking them what drew them to the company and leveraging that to develop the mission.
8. Is It True?
It’s easy to lie to ourselves and others when it comes to the reasons why we do the things we do. That’s why it’s so important to develop a company mission that you and others are truly passionate about and aligned with. Ask yourself a simple question: Is it true? Your mission statement is your company’s reason for being. Root your mission in the reality and let your vision define the future.
9. Is There Room for Change?
Your products and customer needs will likely change over time as you learn. Your passions and interests might also shift. A mission statement must be broad enough to allow you to grow and evolve your business. It should inspire you and set some constraints, but also allow space for evolution.
10. Are You Proud or Embarrassed When Saying It Out Loud?
Your company mission starts with you, and for that reason you need to ask yourself the most critical question: Am I proud of our mission and do I accept it without compromise or discussion? Too many leaders today create a mission but don’t feel comfortable having it echo in their own halls, or they allow exceptions in conduct to pass by. A mission is as precise and inflexible as a principle.
11. Will This Bore You in 10 Years?
Most of us want our companies to be around for a long time. So when you are developing your mission statement, ask yourself honestly if you will remain passionate about this mission for the next 10, 20 or 30 years. If the answer is no, think of a greater mission.
12. Does It Fit Into a Tweet?
Lengthy company mission statements are hard to sell to your employees. Instead of a classic, corporate, long paragraph of what you do best, try to fit your company mission into a single tweet. If you are able to convey your main message in 140 characters, you are going to be more successful at communicating your message to your customers and employees. If it is longer, you risk it being forgotten.
13. What Is the True Value of Your Company?
We are not talking about monetary value — we are talking about the core value your company brings to customers, employees and the community. As your founding team pinpoints what about the company makes others fulfilled and brings value to their lives, you can form it into a mission for your company to live and breathe by.
14. Does This Align with Your Core Values?
When developing a company mission, make sure that it aligns with your core values. My company is mission-driven, and as the CEO I regularly ask myself how I can embody our mission, to set an example for my employees, so we can bring our mission to help and heal to the greater community. To be truly passionate about your mission, it needs to be what you want your life to be about.
15. Can Your Grandma Understand It?
Mission statements should be clear, concise and to the point. You want everyone to understand your mission so this is a good test. It’s much easier to overcomplicate something than it is to simplify it.