e-Business Plan: Mission Statement

Every business needs a purpose that says what it is and a vision that describes what it wants to be. This purpose and vision come together in the mission statement. A mission statement then becomes the starting point for the development of business goals, and goals are the basis for setting measurable project objectives and corresponding metrics. Since it all starts with a mission, this is obviously a critical part of creating your business.

The purpose of this lesson is to assist you in writing a mission statement for your e-business. The lesson describes a mission statement through a list of characteristics and examples and provides instructions to develop a mission statement for your e-business plan.

The lesson outline is:
What is a Mission Statement?
  • Mission statement characteristics
  • Mission statement examples
  • How to Write a Mission Statement

    What is a Mission Statement?

    A mission statement is a declaration of what a business aspires to be. The statement is the business' reason for being, a proclamation of why it exists, a clarification of who it serves, and an expression of what it hopes to achieve in the future. A carefully crafted mission statement accurately describes the business and inspires the people who contribute to its success.

    Just as important as the mission statement itself is the process of writing the statement. This process helps a new or established business clarify questions such as:

    The writing process and the statement itself both provide clarity of purpose and motivation for business success.

    Mission statement characteristics: A mission statement has the following key characteristics:

    Most, if not all of these characteristics are reflected in Purma Top Gift's mission statement: "The mission of Purma Top Gifts is to be the world's premier retailer of top quality Purma-made gifts and souvenirs."

    Mission statement examples: Sometimes the best way to understand what is a mission statement is to see what other companies have selected as their mission statement. Obviously you should not copy another company's mission statement because you lose the benefits the process provides, you will want to distinguish yourself in the marketplace, and you violate that company's copyright on its mission statement. However, exemplary mission statements can suggest wording or an approach that you may want to use.

    Here are some mission statements from real companies and organizations:

    Now that you know what a mission statement is, how do you develop one for your e-business?

    How to Write a Mission Statement

    An existing, large, corporate organization needs a lengthy, highly consultative process to create or revise a mission statement, as described in How to Develop a Mission Statement. Really serious mission statement writers would benefit from The Mission Statement Book, which includes over 300 exemplary mission statements and several chapters that offer guidance about how to write a mission statement. For the purposes of this lesson -- writing a mission statement for a new e-business -- the process described below will be more than satisfactory.

    The place to begin is to realize that the process of writing a mission statement is an inclusive process. All members of the e-business team must be involved in the process. Even if someone thinks they are unable to contribute, essential buy-in to the concept will be insured if their opinion is solicited at every step.

    A good place to start is with the vision part of the statement. In a brainstorming exercise, conduct the following exercises to clarify what you and others intend for the business to be:

    This vision must be tempered with a focus on the purpose of the business:

    These exercises will provide you with the raw material necessary to write a mission statement and other parts of the e-business plan, as the parenthetical comments suggest.

    If you are working in a group, you may find actually writing the statement in a group exercise can be difficult. Instead each member of the group should write a draft statement that is shared with others in a meeting to decide on the mission statement. It is unlikely any individual's statement will meet with instant approval. Instead the team should, in an open and consensus-seeking discussion, look for the best parts in each nominated statement and craft them together into a statement most members can support.

    Keep in mind that this is the first step in your business plan writing process. If you can't agree on a perfect statement now, then settle on an imperfect statement and come back to it later. However it is essential that a preliminary mission statement come out of this process as a guide in subsequent steps.

    Another key point is that this process can produce more than a mission statement. Much of this work can be used in writing business goals next, and in other parts of the business plan in subsequent lessons. Also you may find that a nominated mission statement doesn't work as a mission statement, but would be a good motto, slogan, or advertising tagline. Companies also sometimes use this process to develop two mission statements -- one for external use to customers, suppliers, and others, and an internal mission statement that is posted prominently around the workplace for employees. For example, McDonalds has extracted the words "quality, service, cleanliness, and value" from their mission statement (listed above) and made them a key part of each employee's orientation.

    You now have all you need to write a mission statement, as required in assignment 3 in the Business Description lesson.

    Navigation Guide for the e-Business Plan Tutorial
    Introduction to the E-Business Plan Tutorial
       Top Ten Resources for Writing an e-Business Plan
    Fundamentals of e-Business Planning
    Writing a "Read Right" Plan
    Executive Summary
    Business Description
       Mission Statement
       Business Goals
       Project Objectives
       Business Model
    Market Analysis
    Competitor Analysis
    Financial Statements
    Making an Effective Business Plan Presentation
    Appendix: e-Business Plan Tutorial Assignments

    This e-Business Plan lesson was last updated on June 7, 2005. Questions, comments, and suggestions for improvement can be sent to Dennis Viehland (d.viehland@massey.ac.nz).