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“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road’ll take you there.” – Lewis Carroll via George Harrison

Business, any business, is a long and winding road, peppered with decisions and tasks that seem to have nothing to do with each other. You have to have something to tie everything together and keep everything you do grounded. Consider a mission statement your compass along the way, keeping you on the path you set, giving you a ready reference to find true north whenever you need it. If you don’t already have one, read on for our tips on how to write one. If you have one, and I hope you do, read on to see how yours stacks up.

Keep it simple – A well-crafted mission statement ties everything together, so it can’t be too lengthy or involved. Get to the real core of who and what the business is and wants to be. At the absolute most fundamental level, independent of any momentary triumphs or concerns, what really matters?

Dream big – A mission statement is one part core values and one part vision, so don’t sell yourself short on something that’s going to be so critical. This is the time to employ your Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Say you want to build the best computers in the world, or sell every book in every language known to man, or make the most innovative products in your industry. Don’t shoot good, shoot for great. Shoot for exceptional. Worst case scenario, you settle for pretty great.

Be specific – Don’t use wishy-washy terminology or words that don’t speak to a measurable goal or identifiable behaviors. If you’re going to use this as a compass or a measuring stick, it’s gotta have some markers on it.

Avoid trends or buzzwords. – You’re going to theoretically live with this for a long time. It’s going to be on internal communications and press releases and your website and your blog and on people’s business cards. Make sure it’s the little black dress of business writing.

Present a united front – You may go through several revisions of your mission statement, there may be some disagreement behind closed doors while you’re crafting it. In fact, there almost assuredly will be. Once you’ve decided on it, though, all of that is done. It doesn’t matter whether it’s exactly what every executive or every department head would have chosen, the mission statement is the mission statement and everybody has to buy in, especially at the top.

Once you’ve written it, you’ve gotta live it – The best mission statement in the world doesn’t mean anything if you don’t back it up with behaviors. Everything has to align with and support the mission statement, or day by day it’ll dilute to the point of meaninglessness.

What do you think is the best mission statement you’ve come across, and what makes it so good? Pass it along in the comments.