Do you have a mission statement?

What drives your business or you as an individual?

I find an aimlessness that makes me uneasy when speaking with many entrepreneurs. They have great ideas. They’re hard workers. They’re talented. Some are even making decent money. It still seems that few know why they or their businesses exist.

Why you need a mission statement?

A mission statement helps you guide your business. It’s your true north. A clear mission statement tells you what you should and shouldn’t do, what you should and shouldn’t celebrate or reward. It keeps your business on course.

Perhaps an example would be helpful:The WP Ninjas mission statement is “Help Others Be Successful”. This shapes our entire thought process as a company. It informs every area our team touches from product development to support, from spending practices to extra business activities.

Having a well-defined mission statement sets you and your team up for success. Hey, having a mission statement fulfills part of my mission statement. How meta of me.

Discovering your mission statement

This is actually easier than you might think. If you are just starting out you may try to fashion one that you want to exemplify your company, what you want to be known for.

I suggest you don’t try and create or manufacture it. You should discover it. Your mission statement consists of what you value most. It’s what you’re already doing or how you already act. All you need to do is figure out how to say it in a clear and concise fashion.

Let me offer myself as an example. When my partner and I started the WP Ninjas we were starting from scratch. We had created a product that was taking off pretty fast. We were both about to go full-time and wanted to set ourselves up for success with great equipment.

We bought new MacBook Pros, standing desks, great chairs, and two Thunderbolt displays each. As our team grew (now ten) we provided the same setup for each new team member. We also send team members to conferences and provide online training subscriptions. Pretty much anything else we can find to assist them on their journey.

There it was: hidden in the way we treated each team member. Help others be successful by providing the best tools, service, and resources available: that’s my mission for my team. It’s my team’s mission for each other. It’s our mission for our users.

Our mission statement evolved from our actions and we demonstrate it daily.

A mission statement in action

Let me share how our mission statement informs our business daily.

Support

I’m often reminding our support team that we support people, not products. Since our mission is the user’s success, we don’t strive for an empty support queue. That’s not the goal we’ve set for the team. The goal is a remarkable experience for the user. That’s what we reward.

Handle time on a particular issue might be longer than some would prefer. That’s fine for us though. We prefer longer handle time with ecstatic users over empty queues and underwhelming experiences.

Product Development

We’re always trying to improve or remove areas of our plugins that cause users to struggle.

Sometimes you can get so close to a product that you begin to take a “you’re holding it wrong” mentality. Instead of having empathy for your users and seeing it from their perspective you become defensive, or worse, dismissive.

Our mission statement compels us to consider the user at every stage of development. It has caused us on many occasions to completely remove features we thought were great and add others we initially thought insignificant.

Staffing

Everyone is hiring developers. We’ve made the conscious decision to hire locally and keep our staff in one location. This limits our search areas dramatically.

In our area there seems to be a shortage of PHP developers. There is no shortage of people wanting to break into this area, however. Based on this knowledge our mission sets us on an unexpected course.

Instead of changing our minds and looking for development talent elsewhere, we decided to help others learn a new skill. We started hosting a local PHP Meetup where our developers are helping people get started in the world of PHP. Through that we hired a Jr Developer to learn through full-time immersion with the rest of our team.

It’s not magic, it’s a mission

A mission statement tells you what you fell short of and how to self-correct.Click To Tweet

Having a mission statement won’t solve all your problems. Myself and my team still fall short sometimes. But with a mission statement we at least know what we fell short of and have the ability to self-correct.

Do you have a mission statement? Willing to share it below in the comments?