Starting a Business

Starting a Craft Beer Company? 10 Industry-Specific Tips for Writing a Mission Statement.

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In Start Your Own Microbrewery, Distillery, or Cidery, the staff of Entrepreneur Media Inc. and writer Corie Brown with Zester Daily Contributors explain how you can get started in the craft alcoholic beverage industry, whether you want to start your own microbrewery, distillery or cidery. In this edited excerpt, the authors offer tips to help you create a spot-on mission statement for your new craft beverage business.

To figure out what kind of craft business you want to build do that, you must first think about what your “big picture” looks like. In other words, think about your mission statement.

To come up with a statement that encompasses all the major elements of your business, start with the right questions. Business plan consultants say the most important question is “What business are you in?” Answering the following 10 questions will help you create a verbal picture of your craft business’s mission:

1. Why are you in the craft alcoholic beverage business? What do you want for yourself, your family, and your customers? Think about the spark that ignited your decision to start a business. What will keep it burning?

2. Who are your customers? What can you do for them that will enrich their lives and contribute to their success—now and in the future?

3. What image of your craft business do you want to convey? Customers, suppliers, employees, and the public will all have perceptions of your company. How will you create the desired picture?

4. What is the nature of your products and services? What factors determine pricing and quality? Consider how these relate to the reasons for your business’s existence. How will all this change over time?

5. What level of service do you provide? Most companies believe they offer “the best service available,” but do your customers agree? Don’t be vague; define what makes your service so extraordinary.

6. What roles do you and your employees play? Wise captains develop a leadership style that organizes, challenges, and recognizes employees.

7. What kind of relationships will you maintain with suppliers and distributors? Every business is in partnership with its suppliers. When you succeed, so do they.

8. How do you differ from your competitors? Many entrepreneurs forget they're pursuing the same dollars as their competitors. What do you do better, cheaper, or faster than competitors? How can you use your competitors’ weaknesses to your advantage?

9. How will you use technology, capital, processes, products, and services to reach your goals? A description of your strategy will keep your energies focused on your goals.

10. What underlying philosophies or values guided your responses to the previous questions? Some businesses choose to list these separately. Writing them down clarifies the “why” behind your mission.

Related: Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Pitch Contest

Crafting a mission statement requires time, thought, and planning. However, the effort is well worth it. In fact, most startup entrepreneurs discover that the process of crafting their mission statement is as beneficial as the final statement itself. Going through the process will help you solidify the reasons for what you're doing and clarify the motivations behind your business.

Here are some tips to make your mission statement the best it can be:

Involve those connected to your business. Even if you're a sole proprietor, it helps to get at least one other person’s ideas for your mission statement. Other people can help you see strengths, weaknesses, and voids you might miss. If you have no partners or investors to include, consider knowledgeable family members and close friends, employees, or accountants. Choose supportive people who truly want you to succeed.

Set aside several hours—a full day, if possible—to work on your statement. Mission statements are short—typically more than one sentence but rarely exceeding a page. Still, writing one isn't a short process. It takes time to come up with language that simultaneously describes an organization’s heart and soul, and serves as an inspira­tional beacon to everyone involved in the business.

Plan a date. Set aside time to meet with the people who’ll be helping you. Write a list of topics to discuss or think about. Find a quiet, comfortable place away from phones and interruptions.

Be prepared. If you have several people involved, be equipped with refreshments (May we suggest a craft brew?), extra lists of topics, paper, and pencils. Explain the meaning and purpose of a mission statement before you begin—not everyone will automatically know what they’re all about.

Brainstorm. Consider every idea, no matter how silly it sounds. Stimulate ideas by looking at sample mission statements. If you’re working with a group, use a flip chart to record responses so everyone can see them. Once you’ve finished brainstorming, ask everyone to write individual mission statements for your business. Read the statements, select the best pieces, and fit them together.

Use “radiant words.” Once you have the basic idea in writing, polish the language of your mission statement. The statement should create dynamic mental visuals and inspire action. Use offbeat, colorful verbs and adjectives to spice up your statement. Don’t hesitate to drop in words like “kaleidoscope,” “sizzle,” “cheer,” “outrageous,” and “marvel” to add zest. If you want customers to “boast” about your goods and services, say so—along with the reasons why.

Once your mission statement is complete, start spreading the word. You need to convey your mission statement to others inside and outside the business to tell everyone you know where you are going and why. Print it on company materials, such as your brochures and your business plan, imprint it in your social media profiles, or even print it on the back of your business cards.