Business Purpose or Mission Statement – which do you build first?

Until relatively recently it was considered to be a best practice to begin any good marketing plan with the creation of a well-drafted mission statement. The mission statement would succinctly state these three basic components:

  1. The definition of the business.
    Essentially, “definition of the business” articulates the benefit of the organization to the consumer. It describes the need that your business meets.
  2. What sets the business apart.
    Often referred to as a business’ “unique value” this part of the mission statement expands into not only what the business does, but how they do it better than the competition and how it will ultimately impact the life of the client/consumer.
  3. Where the business is going.
    The word “mission” itself has a certain aspirational quality to it. This is the part of statement that speaks about where the business wants to be (leading in sales, increasing awareness of unique services, etc.) in a defined period of time.  This part of the statement should be quantifiable (ie. In 5 years, or increase sales by 20%, etc.)

As I mentioned, though, recently the trend seems to be leaning towards a preference to begin planning by drafting a “Business Purpose”.

The Business Purpose is being touted as the foundation from which the mission and/or vision statement is built because it not only defines the business and its unique offering, but it also takes into consideration the core beliefs and values that the business wants to commit to over the long haul. One could argue that while the mission and vision needs more frequent revisions, the Business Purpose – when written effectively and thoughtfully – can last indefinitely.

This is a trend I can get on board with.

Maybe my willingness stems from an inherent cynicism towards mission statements. In my experience these heavily-deliberated-upon statements seldom drive any of the decision making or strategizing within an organization. In contrast, taking the time to sit down – either alone or with key employees/partners – and articulate the values and purpose of an organization to make them the key drivers in decision making seems to be an essential part of the planning process.

And with the Business Purpose as a starting point, perhaps the mission statement would be a little more useful.

So – which comes first? The Business Purpose or the Mission Statement? Before you decide, we should figure out the specific components of a Business Purpose…stay tuned!