According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 1.4 million new businesses were launched in the United States in 2008, a number that has remained somewhat steady since 1995. Ironically, an almost equal number close each year. The SBA reports that only 44% of small businesses remain in operation at year four. These are dire statistics to face when trying to remain positive about the risk of launching your own start-up. So, how can you set your company on the right path toward beating the small business odds of failure?
Clarification of Your Mission
Perhaps the most clear manner of defining your company and its existence is through development of a mission statement. Your mission statement should clearly define your company’s goals and how you plan on attaining them. Your mission statement should also include all aspects of your business in relation to competitors such as business philosophies, growth potential, marketplace position, as well as outlining relationships with all those involved in your day to day business dealings. It is from the mission statement that much of your company’s strategic planning will develop.
How Important Is a Mission Statement?
If everyone within the organization is not clear as to the reason for being, parallel objectives cannot be developed or met. Awareness of the mission is so crucial that the statement should not only be written, but also clearly provided to every stakeholder within the company. The mission statement should be not be written and forgotten about, but utilized throughout the life of the company.
Collaboration is Key
Writing of the mission statement should be a collaborative effort which includes key players from varied levels of your company. If yours is a one-person operation, you develop it. If there are multiple departments within the organization, involvement of several levels of employees will provide varied perspectives from throughout the company, which ensures that your statement is truly the mission of the entire business and not just one department or level of executives. If your company is highly multi-faceted, departments may even have their own mission statements as components of the overall brand’s definition of purpose.
Crafting the Mission Statement
With so much to include, how is such a statement generated? Ideally, the more succinct your mission statement the better. Using the following questions, answer each in fewer than three sentences to develop the perfect statement:
- What is the purpose of your business?
- How is your company better than the competition?
- Who are your customers?
- How would you like the company to be perceived?
- What level of customer care do you strive for?
- What strategies and tools will you use to provide your services?
- What is the brand philosophy?
- What level of quality do you seek from internal and external relationships?
“Small Business Administration – Write a Business Plan.” <em>Small Business Administration. </em>N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2010. <http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/plan/writeabusinessplan/serv_bp_execsum.html>.
Velazquez, Lydia. ” Getting Funding for Your Growing Business – Entrepreneur.com.” Entrepeneur. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2010.