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How to create a strong mission statement for your creative business

Have you ever reached a point in your business where you feel like you’re going through the motions? Maybe you’ve drifted off course and lost perspective on what matters most, or perhaps you’ve got too many things you could pursue, and no idea which project to prioritise (which usually results in making a tiny bit of progress on each thing yet no real headway on anything!).

There’s no magic formula for getting back on track, but reconnecting with (or redefining) your ‘why’ can be a great first step. And a good place to start is by writing or reviewing your mission statement, to make sure it’s truly aligned with your long-term vision for your business and life.

Simply put, a mission statement outlines the reason why your business or blog exists and its core purpose. It’s a clear, concise statement that sets out your intentions and helps you stay on track amid the endless stream of opportunities and distractions that will no doubt come your way.

In this post, we’re going to look at how to create a strong mission statement as an independent creative.

When researching this subject, I noticed that most of the articles I came across featured examples from huge companies. I wanted to hear first-hand from creative business owners about what having a mission statement looks like for them, so I spoke to jewellery designer Sophie Davies of Oh My Clumsy Heart and designer and creative coach Kory Woodard, and asked them both to share their own mission statements, the process they went through to develop them and what having a clear sense of purpose has meant for them.

Why write a mission statement?

Creating a mission statement helps you both define what it is you want to do and then stay super focused on this as you move forward. “I really wanted to nail down exactly what my brand stands for and provide a clear intention for everything I do for and with my business,” says Sophie.

When you get really clear on what you’re doing and what you stand for, you have a benchmark you can use to guide your decisions and priorities each day. When reviewing a new opportunity, you can simply ask yourself: will this help me fulfil my mission or distract me from it?

“I really wanted to nail down exactly what my brand stands for and provide a clear intention for everything I do for and with my business”

Getting clear on your mission can help you:

  • Make decisions, such as which opportunities to pursue and which to pass on, what offerings to create, what materials to use, etc.
  • Feel more motivated and energised about whatever it is you want to create and stay focused on what you want to achieve.
  • Create better content and offerings that are aligned with your purpose and goals.
  • Feel more sure of yourself, safe in the knowledge that you’re being guided by the priorities you’ve set rather than distracted by the noise in your industry.
  • Rally your team around your purpose as your business grows, as well as helping to ensure everyone is clear on the priorities and headed in the same direction.
  • Boost the bottom line. According to Delivering Happiness, companies with a higher sense of purpose outperform others by 400%.

At what stage should you create one?

A mission statement can be a great guiding force for a business at any stage, but remember it can take time to uncover where your true strengths lie and who you can serve best. The longer you’re in business, the better idea you’ll have of where your sweet spot lies.

Both Kory and Sophie said their mission statements have evolved over time. Kory started her business part-time at university in 2012, designing websites for fellow bloggers, building it up to the point where she was able to take her business full-time after graduating in 2014.

She says: “I just created my mission statement earlier this year. I think for the past year I’ve known sort of what I was doing, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that I got really clear and actually put into words what my main mission with both my blog and business was.”

Sophie started Oh My Clumsy Heart in the summer of 2012, working on it steadily until she was able to leave her day job and run her business full-time in May 2014. It was around this time she wrote her first business plan, which included a tagline and mission statement for her business.

She says: “A mission statement is something that should grow with your brand, it often starts as a simple idea that evolves into a true definition of what your business is about and how that provides a focus and drives your brand’s intentions and actions.”

Mission statement examples

Kory Woodard

“My mission is to help passionate and driven creative women work towards their goals and follow their dreams of creating a business and life they love on their own terms through my blog posts, courses, and services.”

— Kory Woodard

 

 

 

Sophie Davies, Oh My Clumsy Heart

“The philosophy and mission statement for Oh My Clumsy Heart is essentially: simple delicate jewellery created using only fine metals sold at a fair price without the traditional mark-ups.”

— Sophie Davies

 

 

 

How to create a strong mission statement

So what makes an effective mission statement, and how do you go about creating one? For starters, a strong mission statement is clear, specific and concise; many companies keep it down to just one sentence. Of course, do whatever works best for you, but keep in mind that a long, rambling or vague statement will be less effective and memorable!

While it may sound pretty straightforward, distilling your intentions into a succinct statement that keeps you focused and on track is no mean feat.

Sophie says: “There is a lot to consider when developing a mission statement, it can be tough to get right, which is why I believe it’s an ongoing process; sometimes it’s best to start with a really simple tag line and develop from there, letting the statement evolve in clarity over time.”

This is the approach she took herself. “What started as a simple tagline, ‘minimal handmade jewellery’, evolved into a mission statement that focuses on the importance of value, quality, and ethical consumption,” she says.

With this as a starting point, when it came to creating her mission statement, Sophie asked herself a series of questions to get to the heart of her business’ purpose: “I asked myself what exactly it is that I’m hoping to achieve, what my business stands for, and why I’m doing what I’m doing. I considered the audience I was targeting, what I can offer them that’s different, and how I can make my brand stand out through its products, message, and aesthetic.”

“What started as a simple tagline, ‘minimal handmade jewellery’, evolved into a mission statement that focuses on the importance of value, quality, and ethical consumption”

For Kory, a branding course helped her dig deep and gain more clarity on her business’ direction: “I was lucky to have had help from Hey, Sweet Pea’s branding course, My Own Irresistible Brand (not a plug – just being honest here!). There was a specific section in the course where you had to get clear about what you were doing and develop a concise mission statement. What really helped me in that section was getting honest about not only who I wanted to help but how I wanted to help them,” she says.

How to create a strong mission statement for your business - questions to ask yourself

If you’re struggling to create a mission statement that energises you, think about how to infuse the values and beliefs that underpin the work you do or what you want to change about your space or do differently.

You’ll notice this within both Kory and Sophie’s statements above: Kory’s mission includes helping passionate and driven women create a business and life they love on their own terms, while Sophie’s jewellery is created using only fine metals sold at a fair price without the traditional mark-ups. Often, our values and the positive impact we want to make on the world can be the most powerful force both for motivating us to get to work and rallying others around what we do.

What impact does a strong mission statement have?

Both Sophie and Kory said getting clear on their mission has had a positive impact on their business and approach.

Kory says: “Having a mission statement has made things a lot easier in several different aspects of my business and blog. It helped me redesign my site in a way that would grab attention for different people who need help with different things.

“Having my mission statement also helped me realise that I want to help women in more ways than I have over the previous year, which is leading to a new service launch later this summer.”

“What really helped me… was getting honest about not only who I wanted to help but how I wanted to help them”

Sophie concurs: “It’s really become the driving force behind everything I do. I always keep it in mind when making decisions, sharing content, and designing products – it influences everything I do from designing and creating the products, photography and marketing, branding and packaging, right down to the way the business engages with its customers both online and at a customer service level.”

A few more tips for writing an effective mission statement

Shut out the noise

It’s important to be honest with yourself about what it is you truly want to be doing, says Kory: “Ask yourself a lot of questions about your business and blog, but when you’re answering the questions keep your eyes on your own paper. It’s a million times easier to write a mission statement and create a plan for your blog / business when you’re following trends or the industry leaders, but that’s a disservice to what you’re doing.

“Don’t write a mission statement that you think you should have or what someone else would have. Write something that’s daringly true to what you want to do and who you want to do it for!”

Review regularly

Remember this isn’t something that needs to be set in stone. Sophie says: “It’s good to work at clarifying, reviewing, and revising your mission statement on a regular basis so it always aligns with your vision of what the future looks like for your business, your customers, and yourself… It’s something I’ve worked on over the years and will continue to do so.”

“Don’t write a mission statement that you think you should have or what someone else would have. Write something that’s daringly true to what you want to do and who you want to do it for!”

Get specific

When I worked on staff as a business journalist, I lost count of the number of PR pitches I received for companies that described themselves as “a leading solution for the marketing industry” (or something similarly vague). Not only does this not really mean anything, it could apply to hundreds of businesses. The more specific you are, the more clarity and direction you’ll have and, if you’re looking to grow a team, the more your employees will understand and connect with the business’ purpose and their role in bringing it to life.

Mission versus vision

And finally, an important part of setting intentions that leave you feeling energised and focused is getting clear on the long-term vision for your business and life.

As this article in Psychology Today explains, vision is the “desired future state”, while your mission outlines the work you need to do to get there. What do you want your business and life to look like in one year? How about in five years? What impact do you want to make with your work and what do you want to change? How do you want people to feel? How will you measure success?

A strong mission statement should support your vision, clearly setting out how you intend to bring it to life in the most effective and fulfilling way.

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Image: Unsplash

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