Business Planning – Writing A Mission Statement and Guiding Principles

All, Business, Growth & Success     by Dan Muhlenkamp

Writing a Mission Statement and Guiding Principles is an important part of business planning. This step really can give you guidance as you’re making day to day decisions and deciding what projects to commit to. The key to ending up with something that makes an impact on your business is asking just a few questions, and taking a few steps. Keep it simple, and be decisive.

A Mission Statement answers the following questions.

  • What do we do?
  • How do we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Guiding Principles are the values or beliefs that guide how you decide things.

These are the “do the right thing” guides that people can look to when things are getting a little “grey”. How do we interact with each other and with our clients. Preferred Insurance Center’s guiding principles are:

  • We are joyfully grateful for all our blessings.
  • We are faithfully enthusiastic about our future.
  • We are selflessly making a difference for our teammates and clients.
  • We are growth focused to make a difference for more.

Steps to bringing it all together

  • Step 1: Gather some information from the participants and summarize it.
    • Ask everyone to write answers to the four questions a Mission Statement is supposed to answer.
      • What do we do?
      • How do we do it?
      • Whom do we do it for?
      • What value are we bringing?
    • For guiding principles ask people the following
      • What values are most important to you?
      • How will you interact with your stakeholders (think about customers, employees, vendors, the communities you work in and with, and shareholders)?
      • How can you balance your values with financial goals and common sense?
      • What are you NOT willing to do to make this business successful?
    • Take their written responses and summarize them. Some will be very similar so make sure you keep track how many times a similar statement is made. The statements made the most are likely to end up in that final Mission Statement.
  • Step 2: Give everyone a chance to write a Mission Statement and suggest guiding principles
    • You won’t get a response from everyone but you will get about as much variety as you have people helping you.
    • Tell everyone there is a deadline and don’t give it too much time. The longer till the deadline, the fewer responses you will get.
    • Share all the submission with everyone and plan a meeting a few days.
  • Step 3: Sit down with everyone in the room and try to come up with a consensus.
  • Step 4: Wait a few days so everyone can think it over and make a decision. If you are struggling with this, follow the decision process you decided on during the Decide Who Gets To Decide & How phase at the beginning of this process.

This should get you to a pretty good Mission Statement and set of Guiding Principles. Of course you can also google some mission statements of companies you admire to get some ideas. In the end, you can make this take forever, or you can make some decisions and move forward. I personally prefer action.

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