A mission statement
Having a vision for your business is fundamental. Your vision will inform every strategic decision you make, and you can crystallise this vision in a mission statement.
Ask yourself: where is the business going and what is its purpose? A mission statement allows you to define and articulate the purpose and aims of your organisation, giving staff a focus and direction, and allowing you to assess over time whether your objectives are being met.
Here are the four steps for a successful statement:
Step 1: Write it
Your mission statement should be a clear and concise account of the principles of your organisation - your business in a nutshell. It should include the nature of its work, the customer base it is intended to serve, and above all, its ultimate goal.
You may want to elaborate on the company's ethos and aspirations with details, but the key is to make sure that all of your points link back to the fundamental principles of the company.
Step 2: Communicate it
When you are up and running, staff and customers all benefit from knowing your mission statement. Make sure that employees are aware of the principles that inform it. A mission statement should promote a collective understanding of your business, both internally and externally.
Step 3: Use it
Your mission statement provides you with an opportunity to highlight those elements that set your organisation apart from others, affirming your place in the market. It should influence all kinds of decisions that you make, from launching new products and devising marketing campaigns to recruiting staff.
Step 4: Review it
Review your statement over time and continue to challenge it. This will help you to see whether you are reaching your targets, and whether the company's aims and principles have evolved.