By Jenn Dobransky, Women, Work, and Community As printed in the Bangor Daily News
Do what you love and do what you know is the starting point for any small business.
The exercise of creating a solid mission or vision statement for your business starts with this loving and knowing.
Articulating the direction and goals of your business and doing so in a paragraph or less sounds like an easy thing to accomplish. And for some it is. But for others, it is very challenging.
Don’t have a mission statement for your business yet? Chances are you may be floundering and the lack of a mission statement could very well be the reason why. If you are in operation, sit down and take some time to “noodle” what you are all about.
Your mission statement needs to be displayed on your website, your marketing collateral and undoubtedly will guide your brand; hence, it must be well-written, concise and clear.
Vanessa Bell, founder of Maine Adult Guardianship Services (MAGS) LLC, which delivers professional and customized guardianship support, services and guidance from offices in Topsham, found the process of writing the mission statement for her business demanding but rewarding.
MAGS’ mission is to “provide personalized decision-making assistance for vulnerable adults that preserves their dignity, maximizes their independence and helps them retain as many rights as possible, while making sure that they live in a safe and caring environment.”
“Writing out a mission/vision statement was really challenging for us, but we knew it was needed,” Bell said. “It is the foundation of our business.”
Bell described the process whereby she and her associates “listened and took notes on how we explained our business to others.” That exercise really helped provide a tremendous amount of clarity.
“Guardianship can be a very complicated topic, especially for someone learning about it for the first time, so our challenge was to get straight to the point in 30 seconds or less,” she said. “We are very passionate about protecting people’s rights and making certain their voice is heard.”
Jennifer Barbour, chief engagement officer for her business, another jennifer blog and writing lab, agrees with the value of the mission statement in daily operation.
Barbour, whose business is located in Brunswick, is a writer who helps entrepreneurs and nonprofits set their social media strategies.
“A mission/vision is important to keep the focus on what the business is meant to accomplish. For me, it’s helpful to know a client’s mission/vision because then I can write for them or coach them more effectively,” she said. “If they don’t have a formal mission/vision, I’ll still ask them what the purpose of their business is and where they see themselves in five years. I know it’s a tough question, but it is important.”
For Alex Forest, owner of Smart Alex Jams, a gourmet jam and jelly company in Brunswick, “the ideas behind our mission statement were very easy to come up with, but putting it on paper was a different story.”
“Smart Alex Jams’ philosophy is simple, and that is to make people smile with our products. Our intention is to provide superior gourmet jams and jellies by using the freshest Maine produce and finest ingredients available to ensure 100 percent satisfaction and indulgence,” Forest said.
Just like the other entrepreneurs, Forest agrees that “our mission statement is our everyday focus.” She explains, “I am thinking about our customers every time I am stirring a batch of jam, putting a label on the finished product and setting that product on a store shelf or show display. The smile on their face is proof in the jam.”
For those of you who already have a mission statement in your business, when was the last time you reviewed it? It is important that you periodically examine your mission statement to make certain it reflects your current goals. Simply ask yourself, “is my mission statement still accurate and does it clearly describe what I am doing in my business?”
A good mission statement provides direction for daily operations and is the passion incarnate for the entrepreneur. Doing the hard work to have a solid mission statement for your small business is well worth the effort.
Jenn Dobransky is the Microenterprise Coordinator for the Midcoast for Women, Work, and Community.