A mission statement reminds you what you are doing, how you are doing it, for who, and the value you’re adding to the market with your product.
While it sounds simple, we’ve seen many people with many ideas pointing nowhere throughout the years. Ideas worth nothing if there isn’t a strategy behind them, a proposition, a vision.
How to Create Your Mission Statement
Just as we started this blog post, make yourself those questions:
- “What do we do?”
- The mission statement should clearly outline the organization’s primary purpose and what they do.
- “How do we do it?”
- It should also reflect how one plans on achieving the mission statement.
- “Whom do we do it for?”
- Think about your target audience and how your product impacts them.
- “What value are we bringing?”
- What makes your product special, why should people use it?
The next exercise is to form a phrase based on the answers you’ve given to these questions, which will mark your product goals and values. From there, you should stick to it and focus everything around the statement, move ahead, always keeping in mind what’s the purpose of your product.
Let’s see some examples of well-known companies and what their mission statements are:
Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
LinkedIn: To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.
AirBnB: Belong anywhere.
Wikipedia: To empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.
These companies’ statements define the products they do, their goals, their strategy and give hints on where they add value.
Let’s take a closer look at Tesla’s statement. We could describe them as a company building cars, but this doesn’t offer any added value to their audience nor the market, as many other manufacturers are also building cars. What makes them different is their approach to building cars and their vision beyond what they do.
“Accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”
Their ultimate goal is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, and their line-up of products reflects that statement. Their cars use electricity, avoiding pollution and using a source of energy capable of being produced in clean environments. Their solar roof panels allow customers to use the sun rays to provide electricity for their living. Their wall batteries reduce energy consumption and strive for efficiency.
All these products follow the same vision and goal, promoting the transition to sustainable energies, and as you’ve realized already, it goes way beyond just “making electric cars.”
Benefits of Having a Mission Statement
Now we understand what value gives you thinking on a mission statement for your product/company, let’s see why this will help define and validate your product.
Every time you think of a new feature for your product, ask yourself how it fits under your goal. If it doesn’t, consider leaving it for later, as it might be something nice to have, but unless it helps you achieve your goal, it’ll be just a waste of time, and thus, money.
If we take many of the well-known products in the market and take a look at how they started, you’ll see most of them began as simple concepts, without many features, focusing on specific things, the ones adding value.
Let’s take a look at Twitter, back then known as Twittr:
Statement: To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers.
Simple, straight to the point, just a text field to send a 140 character message and let others know what you’re doing. There are no likes, retweets, and other fancy features, but only the bare minimum to achieve their goal.
It wasn’t until 2009 when they started introducing new features such as likes or retweets (also aiming to get closer to their goals), but they have already proven to have a successful product by then. Their minimum set of features was enough to solve a problem and add value to users seeking ways to share information publicly.
Furthermore, mission statements won’t only help you build your product but also impact user acquisition and retention, as your product will be focused on what your users will achieve with it and what they can expect from your product in the future.
Value Over Quantity
We often hear about building the next big thing, followed up by a big list of features grasped from already successful products, merged into one place, without a mission statement nor value proposition behind it. Many times the issue is they’re trying to cover everyone’s needs rather than focusing on smaller niches or specific problem-solving areas.
In the end, your product or service might end up being a “set of functions” instead of a tool to achieve a clearly defined goal. If you don’t provide a reliable solution for users, these will most likely shift to other tailor-made products that might be simpler but achieve their goal better.
While it’s not mandatory nor required to have a mission statement for a product, we encourage you to make an effort and understand what you’re trying to achieve and how you’re doing it. This will allow for a smoother definition of the minimum viable way to reach the goal while keeping in mind always the core purpose of your product.