MaRS Library 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
- The mission statement: The basis for startups’ strategic planning
- Why write a corporate value statement?
- Recruiting for your startup: Corporate culture, vision statement and core values
- Strategy statement: Articulating your competitive advantage, objectives and scope
Mission statements and stages of venture development
The Startup Genome model defines five stages of venture development:
This article relates to those startups in the discovery and validation stages.
Blank, S.G. (2005). The Four Steps to the Epiphany. Self-published: Cafepress.com.
- Activating your brand strategy.
- Customer discovery: Identifying effective distribution channels for your startup.
- Identifying target customer segments to focus your marketing resources.
- Product strategy: Setting your strategic vision for product offerings.
- Elements of a product’s value proposition: Functional, self-expressive and emotional benefits.