Mission statements have long been a foundational and key element of businesses. That certainly hasn’t changed and is unlikely ever to do so.
This is a core part of every startup business. One which will determine the customers you are able to win and keep, perhaps where you can do business, the talent that will join your team and how much they are willing to work for, your fundraising capabilities, and the investors you can attract.
Unfortunately, there is also a lot of confusion about mission statements. Especially, how they compare to other common business statements and content.
So, what exactly is a mission statement? How does it differ from everything else? What can a great one do for you and your company? Where does it fit into your fundraising efforts?
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
What Is A Mission Statement?
A company’s mission statement states what its purpose is, and why it exists.
What is the big reason that you are forming, or have formed this business, and are working for?
How Broad Should Your Mission Statement Be?
While some may be very specific, other mission statements are very broad.
Hubspot quotes Warby Parker as being “To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.”
Compare this to TED, “Spread Ideas.” Or Tesla “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
The latter is much broader.
Warby Parker is very specific and descriptive. A little long for a tagline, but leaving no doubt about what they are all about. Yet, certainly boxing the company in on at least three different fronts. If they can no longer compete on price, or decide the term ‘socially conscious’ has evolved in meaning and may no longer be what they want to highlight, that presents some problems.
Being focused when presenting to investors is important. They definitely want to know that you have clarity about the problem you are trying to solve and know your angle and competitive advantage.
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However, market size is absolutely critical for startup investors. They cannot invest without a really big market. There just won’t be the possibility of acceptable returns for them.
Startup investors also know that so much will change on the journey. Especially, during the early stages of a startup. Your pricing can change, the team will change, and your target market will evolve. Even your business model and product are likely to evolve.
Going broader with your mission statement shows investors that you understand all of this and that you have the potential to branch out into many areas, channels, and products to become a huge company.
Mission Versus Vision Statements
These two core business statements are often confused and mixed up. In some ways, they may be similar, but they are still distinctly different.
Again, your mission statement is your purpose and reason for being in business. It is what you are trying to do. The mission is never done. It is something you will always be working on.
In contrast, your vision statement is about the vision you have for the future. It’s what the world will look like if you are successful in your mission.
For some, that may be clean water available to everyone, no kids going hungry, the availability of clean and healthy food and beverages, or solar panels on all roofs, replacing other types of fuels.
Where the vision is distinctly different from other goals and milestones, is that the vision is meant to be stuck with like glue. It is the north star of the entire company. No matter what stage it is at, or who is making daily decisions. Even if you are no longer with the company.
Your milestone goals, strategies, and tactics, along with products, may change substantially on this journey. These are the things to be flexible on in order to achieve the vision.
The company’s mission is a part of the overall structure of the organization. If you need more information on how to write a business plan, take the time to check out this video.
Mission Statements Versus Taglines And Slogans
As with the Warby Parker example, there can be some crossover and blurring of the lines between your tagline or various campaign slogans, and your mission.
Taglines and slogans may be product and marketing campaign specific. Your mission statement is not. It stays consistent with you for the whole journey.
Google used to be known for its slogan, “Don’t be evil.” That was dropped somewhere along the way. According to Google, the company’s mission is now “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Mission Versus The Problem In A Pitch Deck
These are both very important elements of a startup and the fundraising process.
Again, they can be very similar. Though for the sake of a pitch deck in a given fundraising round, you may hone in with more clarity, and word it from the pain perspective.
For example, instead of “we are on a mission to ensure everyone on the planet has access to clean drinking water.” you may restate it as “Two billion people on earth do not have easy access to clean water, and it is killing them.”
Mission Versus The Solution Slide In A Pitch Deck
Your solution slide flips the problem and addresses it from the big idea you are taking on. In this example, it may be, “we are providing affordable wells to those without access to clean water.”
Your product slide will further detail the initial product you are working on as a solution to the problem. Or, as a later-stage startup, the product line you have developed.
What’s The Best Way To Write A Mission Statement For Your Startup?
As we’ll continue to unpack, your startup’s mission statement is critically important to your venture, and many of its working parts.
With this in mind, unless you have a professional sales and copywriting background, this may be one of the parts of your startup, business plan, and pitch deck that you reach out for help with. The small investment in a professional writer for these materials can pay huge rewards, not to mention often making all the difference between being able to continue pursuing your mission, or not.
If you don’t have a pro writer on staff already, ask your advisors for referrals, and check out those with expertise in your industry on the outsourcing platform, Upwork.
Where Does Your Mission Statement Belong In Your Business Plan & Pitch Deck?
Your mission statement is most likely to show up on your problem slide in your pitch deck. Though you may have versions of it in your solution slide, and on your cover slide.
Your business plan in your virtual data room will also feature your mission statement. This will be prominently featured in your business plan’s executive summary.
Mission & Values Statements For Startups
Values statements have become an increasingly important part of startups and corporations. With so much noise out there, they have evolved to become unique, thoughtful, and used to carefully curate company culture.
No matter what your individual startup’s values are, they act as your guidelines for working on your mission and achieving the vision.
Telling the truth, transparency, efficiency, and staying humble, may all be examples of values that guide you and your team as you make decisions about how to do the mission. Just make your values your own.
Your Mission & Picking The Best Startup Investors
Your mission (along with your values and vision) all determine who the best investors are for your individual startup.
Money is perhaps the least reason to bring in outside investors. Even if you need it, it can be a poison pill, unless you have the right investors. The best investors for your startup are not about the brand name or fame as much as it is about finding the right fitting investors that are in alignment with your mission, values, and vision.
Why It Matters
- For how easy it will be to convert investors
- Running an efficient fundraising campaign
- Being able to trust those you are giving equity, board seats, and voting control to
- Being able to get along for the journey
- Gaining the most added value from investors beyond the money
How Do You Know If You’re Picking The Right Investors?
- You agree on similar timelines for the venture and milestones
- They are already passionate about this mission
- You can easily agree on the next milestones and metrics of success
- Their portfolio proves that they share your mission and values
- They have a cohesive thesis about this investment already in mind
- Other founders they’ve funded can back up their pitch
- They are already living it in some way
- You’ve invested in building relationships with them over time, and in advance
- You’ve received referrals and introductions to these investors as a good match
Keep in mind that in fundraising, storytelling is everything. In this regard, for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
Mission & Recruiting
Your mission statement will make a huge difference in recruiting, hiring, and HR management.
Crafted well, it will help you attract the best-fitting talent for your company culture. It means drawing in those specifically who believe in and are passionate about this mission and are at the top of their specialties.
Many will come for the mission and purpose above anything else. Which can help a lot when it comes to compensation. Especially as an early-stage startup that needs more funding.
This also applies to advisors, executives, outsourced help, and cofounders.
Picking The Right Mission For Your Startup
Since this is perhaps going to be the one thing that sticks with you longer than anything else (including your cofounders, investors, product, and hires), it is important to get it right.
While it may be tempting to weave a mission statement specifically to tap into some of the above benefits and to hop on trends, be honest and clear. Only you will lose or benefit from the outcome.
If the mission is just to build a $10B company, cash out in an IPO or acquisition, and make as much money as possible, that’s okay. Just own it. If it is something that may sound less sexy in the media, it’s okay. Own that too.
You don’t start a startup unless you can commit to at least 10 years or a lifetime on this mission. So, make it something you care enough about to stick with that long.
It should be so compelling that you can invest all of this time, fail, and still feel the work and time were well worth trying this.
What is a mission statement? It’s your purpose. It’s why your company exists.
There is a lot of confusion about mission statements and other parts of a pitch deck, business plan, and sales pitches.
However, getting the mission right can make all the difference for you, your fundraising efforts, and being able to accomplish what you really want to make happen in the world.
Understand how the mission statement is different, what makes a good one, and how to wield it to your advantage.
You may find interesting as well our free library of business templates. There you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.