5 Reasons Mission Statements (Still) Matter for Startups

Every successful startup has a clear goal or vision as to what they want to accomplish. While cynics would say that the ultimate mission of any business is making money, the most successful startups generally have a larger sense of purpose. And the best way to express that aspiration is with a well-written mission statement that establishes your company’s core values and highlight its goals, no matter what niche you might be working in. Here is a handful of reasons why.

1. A mission statement defines your goals.

While a mission statement won’t get into the nitty gritty of your short-term goals, it helps establish the long-term pursuits that everyone in your company should be working toward. A recent study looked at the different results between those who passively agreed to help with a volunteer project and those who used an active approach, such as writing down that they would help. While only 17 percent of passive volunteers showed up, 49 percent of active volunteers followed through. Writing down a goal creates a sense of accountability and commitment that leads to actionable changes in behavior.

2. It helps you locate your “how.”

Powerful mission statements don’t just include what you want to accomplish, but offer a roadmap that hones in on how you’ll reach these goals. This became abundantly clear during a recent conversation I conducted with Brent Hauver, president of sugar-substitute manufacturer Lakanto. He explained that, “The mission statement tells us what kind of movement we need to make to help people improve their health and wellness. This focus on the ‘how’ is essential for guiding our overall strategy so we can always stay true to what we want to accomplish.”

3. It solidifies company culture.

Survey data from Deloitte reveals that “94 percent of executives and 88 percent of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success.” Mission statements help solidify your startup’s culture by defining the things it values most and clearly communicating those attributes during the recruiting process, ensuring that you will attract likeminded employees.

Consider a mission statement like financial-insights company Intuit’s: “Powering prosperity around the world.” It’s short and sweet and strongly communicates the idea of working for the global good, a powerful incentive when a LinkedIn survey found that 74 percent of all employees want to feel like what they do makes a difference.

4. It guides future decisions.

The business world is constantly changing, which can sometimes make it difficult to evaluate new challenges and opportunities. By establishing your startup’s core values with a mission statement, you can gain greater confidence by applying those criteria during the decision-making process. While this may seem stifling to some, in many cases this can actually fuel new innovations. Looking at a recent case study, John Moore, former president of entrepreneur-backing incubator NEXT, wrote for Upstate Business Journalabout how Clemson University’s MBA program implemented a mission statement that specifically encouraged leaders to “push against the status quo.” By helping the organization’s leaders think of new and innovative ideas, the program was able to double its enrollment between 2010 and 2016.

5. It encourages engagement.

A quality mission statement also ensures your employees stick around for the long haul and deliver stronger results while working for your business. There are seemingly countless statistics to back up this idea. A research report by Bain & Company, for example, found that businesses with more engaged workers increased their revenue by more than two and a half times that of other companies over a seven-year period. With a strong mission statement, employees better understand what their expectation are, will use their time better and be more enthusiastic about what they do. They are more likely to become self-starters, actively seeking to improve their own performance to help everyone achieve the company’s overall goals.

The right mission statement will provide a valuable guidepost as you continue to grow and innovate within your startup. By helping you stay true to your long-term goals, it will ensure that you attract the right talent, innovate in the right direction and be better able to overcome obstacles along the path to success.

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