When You Should Revise Your Mission Statement

Hint: A good revision should take place a lot more often than just every three to five years.
When You Should Revise Your Mission Statement
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You created a mission statement for your business or nonprofit to provide your stakeholders — employees, customers, investors and others — with a succinct statement about the organization. The mission statement also states your company’s goals and purpose. It defines your product or service offering as well as who it serves.

As a business owner or company leader, you might have pondered when you should work on revising your mission statement. After all, a mission statement may be relevant for a much longer time than a company’s overall vision statement. As a new entrepreneur, you may be contemplating if your startup mission statement will stand the test of time as you launch and scale-up.

I’ll give you a hint: You might need to evaluate your company's mission more often than you think. And, there are many compelling reasons why you should be reviewing what your mission statement says and whether it still resonates.

Related: How to Build Your 2021 Business Strategy in the Face of Uncertainty

Your company has undergone significant changes 

Over time, you may have altered your product or service focus as part of a pivot or structural and operational overhaul. Maybe there's been a company acquisition or merger. Entering new markets or undergoing major executive team shifts may also be signs your company now defines itself differently. 

Without calling out the specific changes that have occurred, examine your strategic planning. Remove what no longer applies to the direction or intent of your company. From there, create a new mission statement to reflect the evolving purpose, including product or service description, and audience.

Your mission statement doesn’t explain who you are and what you represent

If you have had customers and/or employees ask you to explain more about who you are as a company, this could be a sign you need to revisit the organization's mission statement.

Often, when we write something about what we know best like our own company, we might not have clearly explained it. Instead, our wording might be something that makes sense to us because we are in the midst of creating or managing it. From the outside, though, others don’t have that inside knowledge to read between the lines.

To create a good mission statement, get input from employees, customers and industry experts who can point out what they find confusing about your current mission statement. Create multiple versions and then get further feedback on messaging from specific stakeholders.

Related: 4 Ways to Determine If Now Is the Right Time to Launch Your Business

Your mission statement doesn’t align with your audience or its needs 

Over time, your audience may change or, at the very least, their pain points and problems might shift. What you already did for this target population around the time of the original mission statement may have addressed those issues. That means you need to identify new problems to solve for them or other audience segments. In some respects, you've completed your existing mission, and it's time to identify a new one.

The misalignment between your company, audience and any strategic plan might also appear during times of rapid growth. During an expansion period, you may be more focused on scaling up than on defining how that growth relates to your mission. 

Using a similar process, you can generate a new mission for the company. When developing it, ensure you create alignment between the growth initiatives, any new company values and your current and future strategic purpose.

Related: If Running Your Business Feels Hard, You're Doing it Right. Here's Why

Time intervals for mission statement review

Some business advisors suggest that a company should create a revised mission statement every three to five years. But with rapid changes in the global business environment due to the ongoing health and economic crisis, as well as evolving technology, it might be more effective to review your mission statement more frequently.

Even if your company hasn't faced tremendous disruption recently, it’s good to reflect on your statement and determine if it still is an accurate description of where the company stands. For example, you might look at your mission statement at the same time you review your annual business strategy.

For new entrepreneurs, keep your mission statement front and center in your mind during launch and the first few years of business. Keep it posted in your offices and conference room. You could even make the mission statement your screensaver.

Refer to it in your external and internal communications to keep everyone focused. In this way, your mission statement can serve as a frame of reference to see the ways you, your business plan and your goals continue to evolve over time.

Related: Why You Should Speed Up Your Digital Transformation During the Crisis
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