Creating a mission statement for your startup: When to do it and what to know

Creating a mission statement is an early task in a startup’s development.

What to know when you write your mission statement

When you write your mission statement in its initial form, you simply need to set down the vision (both company and product) of why you are in business. An effective mission statement informs and inspires the critical stakeholders that surround your startup—this group includes customers, investors, employees and job candidates. Your mission statement should help them understand the value of your company and product.

Articulate the vision of your company and set it within a wider context. Your mission statement should have an inspirational element to attract stakeholders and spur them into participation, and it should be broad enough so as not to stifle innovation or future strategies. Don’t lock it down to a specific technology or market segment.

To learn more about how to write your mission statement, read The mission statement: The basis for startups’ strategic planning.

When to write your mission statement: Startups and the Customer Development Model

For startups following Steve Blank’s Customer Development Model, the preliminary steps to write your mission statement take place during the customer discovery stage. Later, when you reach the customer validation stage, you will further develop your mission statement.

Customer discovery: Creating a mission statement for your startup

Blank describes the mission statement at this stage of a startup’s development as an articulation of “what we were thinking when we were out raising money.” It should briefly describe your product and market—a few sentences will suffice. By creating a mission statement and referring back to it, you can keep your startup focused on your goals and why the company exists.
As you write your mission statement, be aware that it will evolve over time. Each time you adjust your mission statement, though, ensure you have a solid rationale.

Customer validation: Refining your startup’s mission statement

Once you reach the customer validation stage, you will need to develop your company positioning. Your mission statement will guide your positioning, so you need to flesh out your mission statement and ensure it is competitive.

Check that when creating your mission statement, you defined how your startup differs from your competitors. Does the statement still accurately reflect why you are in business? It can help to compare your mission statement to those of the competition and see how yours stands up. Consider whether there is room for you to strengthen yours.

As you move through the customer validation stage and complete your company and product positioning descriptions, add these to your mission statement.

Your mission statement helps you get critical feedback from industry leaders

Completing your mission statement and positioning are necessary tasks in order to seek and obtain feedback from industry thought leaders on your product and company.

Creating your mission statement and other company statements: Further resources