How Effective IS Your Firm’s Mission Statement?

By Drue Lawlor, FASID
Director of Coaching at DSU

I’m certain that most of you are thinking “been there, done that,” but then let me ask you a few questions.  Can everyone on your internal team recite your mission statement from memory?  If your mission statement were shared with your clients, would they say that it is a perfect fit for your firm and would they be able to share why it fits you so well?  Would it connect to the reason they are brand loyal to your firm?

An effective mission statement should be short – of a length that can easily be memorized by everyone on the team – and yet, though short, be an effective tool for clearly communicating your basic business objectives – in addition to developing and creating understanding for those objectives.

First consider the questions that your mission statement should answer:

Who IS your company?  What do you do – and why do you do it?  What do you stand for?  Who do you serve – who is your ideal client – and what benefits do you offer them?  Do you solve problems for your clients, and if so, what are they?  What is the culture of the work environment for your team?

Tim Berry, business plan consultant and published author, identifies 5 steps for developing an effective mission statement which I feel are valuable.

1.  Start with a market defining story. As he explains, this is not something to be included in your mission statement but it should so well established in your mind that it comes through
between the lines.  It’s the defining of your ideal client, the “why” they should hire you, the “what” your business does and doesn’t do, and the “how” your design firm is different from
most others.

2.  Define how your client’s life is better because your business exists.  Your mission statement should start with the good that you do.  This is a critical part of your mission statement.

3.  Consider what your business does for your team.  This relates to the culture of your business, as a firm’s culture affects how they treat their clients.

4.  Add what the business does for its owners.  Even for a very small firm of one or two, it is important that you enjoy coming to work every day and enjoy the people with whom your work
– internal and external teams alike.

5.  Discuss, digest, cut, polish, review, and revise.  This is a key step as it is rare to write anything that does not benefit from editing. And this step includes having others review to be sure
your mission statement accurately defines your firm.

Definitely visit websites of other design firms and read their mission statements, but write a statement that is about your firm – and not some other design firm. Make sure your mission statement is authentic and truly reflects your firm’s values, identifies long-lasting ideals, inspires and motivates your firm toward objectives that are fundamental to the image you want to establish, and is clear and easy to understand.  Mission accomplished!

Gail Doby

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