Why does a business exist? Every business needs a mission and a purpose. We know the overarching purpose of any business is to acquire, develop and maintain customers at a profit however any business must fundamentally know why they exist so the effort, work and emotional investment has a real meaning to all stakeholders.
Is there too little “know why” in business? Businesses with a purpose are usually led by a person with a purpose.
Business vision and business mission should not be confused, business vision is about imagining the future shape of the enterprise, the business mission is about the here and now, it defines the reason the business exists and its purpose. A business mission is about personalising who the company is, what it does, and who it serves.
Writing a business mission statement should be done in consideration with the business vision and values.
- Vision: where the business is going in the long-term
- Mission: the business purpose and reason WHY for existing
- Values: Who and what the business stands for
“The business person who knows How will always have a job, the business person who knows Why will always be boss”
Business mission statements means there is a primary purpose behind the business or organisation. This primary purpose is the why the business exists and about putting the business on the right course for success. The business mission must be in the DNA of the business, in everything the business does, every action the business takes, every product it manufactures, every service it provides, every communication it issues, every transaction it conducts, and how the business conducts itself.
Without a business mission, the business is a ship adrift on a dark ocean, so when the going gets tough, the business has no compass, no reference points, no why does it exists, no purpose. The lack of a business mission will impact business growth, sales and customer focus.
In the business book Purpose, by Nikos Mourkogiannis, It describes four kinds of business purpose, “starting points” that govern what great companies do and how they do it. Each of these purposes represents a kind of “holy grail” as opposed to business goals (usually more financial based), missions or visions, or even a set of values. As Mourkogiannis puts it, “Let others play with ‘strategy’ and ‘tactics’ and ‘management.’ Purpose is the game of champions.”
According to this theory, true business purpose can be found in: (1)discovery, the challenge of adventure and innovation characterized by dot-com entrepreneurs willing to work 24/7 in search of the new or unknown, (2) excellence, in which high standards are not compromised for short-term performance (as with Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett), (3) altruism, where the primary purpose is to serve (customers, employees, etc.) first and assume that profit will follow (as at Nordstrom), and (4) heroism, typically involving grand plans to change entire industries or even the way we live (Bill Gates and Microsoft).
The argument is that only one of these business purposes, if pursued rigorously and successfully, is required for success.
Every business mission is unique and individual to that business and listed below is a typical list it should cover:
- The purpose and aim of the business (i.e., a definition of what the company is and does)
- The products and/or services the business offers
- What the company aspires to be
- What features/characteristics distinguish this business from its competitors
- The businesses values, purpose and visionary goals
Creating a personalised mission statement for a business is not some exercise done in isolation, the mission statement must reflect the business’s core principles, connected to what the business stands for, it must be seen in the profile of the people the business hires and defines the culture the business is working to create. A mission statement binds the people in the company to make an impact on success of the business because everyone in the business understands and lives by the mission.
The primary purpose of why the business exists can be built around why and how the business serves everyone who interacts with it, in whatever way, and for whatever reason, at the very highest level of attention and quality the business can deliver.
A true, living business mission is about the business attributes that will draw customers centred on VALUE and RESULT. The values and results the business will deliver to the market or industry, and through, or as a result of the product or service being offered.
A good starting point on why a business exists is to look at its Values, Vision and Mission.
Business or Organisation values identify the principles and ethics by which the entity on and its people conduct themselves and their activities.
Business vision is about the future, an aspirational description of the desired achievements of a business. A business vision asks – ‘Where is the business going?’ or ‘What will the business look like when we get there?’
As stated earlier, vision focuses on the future; the business mission concentrates on the here and now. A mission statement defines the fundamental purpose of any business. It identifies who the organisation is, what it does, and who it serves.
Where a business vision statement is aspirational, a mission statement is more practical. The mission statement should communicate, in an easily understandable manner, what the organisation does and possibly for whom.
Know Your Business “Why”
“Why does my company exist?”
In Peter Drucker’s book, The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask about Your Organization, Mr. Drucker writes “A mission cannot be impersonal; it has to have deep meaning, be something you believe in — something you know is right. A fundamental responsibility of leadership is to make sure that everybody knows the mission, understands it and lives it.”
Here are some examples of business mission statements:
Google: Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Apple: Bringing the best personal computing experience to consumers around the world.
Facebook: Give the people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
Netflix: To revolutionize the way people watch movies.
The business purpose is the most powerful tool a business can have when it comes to attracting and inspiring the best people or talent, focuses the businesses activities and guiding strategic plans.