The difference between Mantra, Mission Statement, and Vision Statement:

A mission statement should define what the business wants to do for at least three sets of people: customers, employees, and owners. It should not be just meaningless hype words.

A mantra is a single phrase that defines a business.

A vision statement projects forward into time three or five years and presents a picture, like a dream, of how things should be.

A good mission statement defines a company’s goals in three different ways: what your company does for customers, employees and owners, but a great mission statement can extend even beyond that by also saying what the company does for the community and even the world.

There are far too many mission statements filled with buzz words and pretentious phrases that say nothing about what the company is actually doing. This is why the most important part of creating a mission statement is making sure its clear, concise and unique.

Your mission statement is both opportunity and threat at the same time. It’s an opportunity to define your business at the most basic level. It should tell your company story and ideals in less than 30 seconds: who your company is, what you do, what you stand for, and why you do it. It’s a threat because it can be a complete waste of time.

A mission statement is a complete waste of time when it’s just meaningless phrases, hype that nobody can remember and doesn’t matter even if they do.

Most mission statements are essentially full of interchangeable, nice-sounding phrases like “excellence” and “leadership” that make all of them sound exactly the same. Test your mission statement by asking yourself, honestly, whether your competitors could use exactly the same statement. Does it distinguish you from all other businesses? If you gave an employee or customer a blind screening test, asking her to read your your mission statement and four others without identifying which is which, would they be able to tell which mission statement was yours?

The best mission statements tend to be three to four sentences long.

Here are a few examples of great mission statements:

Dessert Bakery mission statement example:

Rutabaga Sweets is a hospitality company dedicated to providing high-quality desserts in a comfortable atmosphere for clients who seek a fun “gourmet” experience outside restaurants. We intend to make enough profit to generate a fair return for our investors and to finance continued growth and development in quality products. We also maintain a friendly, fair, and creative work environment, which respects diversity, new ideas, and hard work.

Nonprofit mission statement example:

At Bright House, we promote the dignity and self-worth of all of our residents, and strive to give them excellent quality of life, as defined by the residents, individually and as a group. To that end, we encourage resident group decision-making through the House Councils, access to all areas of their homes here at Bright House, and self-determination in activities, socialization, and food preferences. Bright House is not just a caregiving facility—it is their home, and their community.

Google mission statement:

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

I love it when a mission statement defines a business so well that it feels like strategy—and that does happen—and I hate it when a mission statement is generic, stale, and completely useless.

The best example of a mission statement will define a company and its purpose in 30 seconds or less. This is an eloquent, concise paragraph that should be full of meaning and impact. Choose your words wisely—beware of buzz words, empty phrases, or mission statements that are so general they could apply to many different companies. It’s a challenge, but you want to capture what your company stands for in a brief and memorable way.

Don’t “box” yourself in. Your mission statement should be able to withstand the changes that come up over time in your product or service offerings, or customer base. A cardboard box company isn’t in the business of making cardboard boxes; it’s in the business of providing protection for items that need to be stored or shipped. The broader understanding helps them see the big picture.

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