The Guiding Power of Mission Statements
This is a guest post by Caroline Vasquez – one half of the husband and wife team behind Paloma’s Nest. Caroline also mentors and coaches creative entrepreneurs in the Art of Business at Handcrafted Consulting.
As creative business owners, we tend to have lots of ideas, both big and small. As artisans and designers, we often struggle with choices to make at every step in the creative process. Sometimes it feels like the easiest thing to do is toss a coin in the air to prioritize the list, but there is a tool that can help: How you choose which ideas, products or projects to focus on can often be decided by your mission statement.
How is that?
A mission statement is a few key sentences that can become a guiding light for your company. A north star, your compass.
A good mission statement not only summarizes what your company does, but how it does it, and why it does it. It defines who you are creatively and helps to develop your brand, which, in turn, lets your customer know what your art is all about. At our company, Paloma’s Nest, we use a good chunk of our mission statement in our tagline: “Handcrafted Heirlooms and New Traditions, Designed for the Modern Family.”
So, how can a few well-written, concise sentences point you in the right direction?
Here’s an example.
A few years ago we designed and created a really fun “memory” game for kids. It was made of wood, and came in a cloth bag; it was darling, and aesthetically, it fit in with our brand. No problem there. But something was missing from the idea- some spark that takes a good idea and makes it into a great product. We mulled it over for a few days- (What could we change? How could we improve it?)- and in the meantime, we repeated our mission statement in our minds over and over.
The answer was right in front of us. This design was definitely “handcrafted.” And, it was a “modern” take on a classic product, and definitely family-oriented. BUT- it was not of “heirloom” quality. Voila! It didn’t meet our criteria to be in our collection, so we put it away on the shelf, and freed up our creative minds to work on other projects that better matched the mission of our company.
This same method holds true in many areas of business. Should you advertise in a certain spot? Apply to be in a certain show? Does your logo reflect the values you hold dear as written in your mission statement? If not, then it may not be the best choice for you.
Here are a few things to think about when writing your mission statement:
- What do you sell, or what business are you in? Can you define it?
- Who is your audience, or what is your niche?
- What is the feeling you want your clients to be left with, or what experience do you want them to have when they interact with your brand or buy one of your products?
- What sets you apart from your competition? What philosophies or morals do you hold close as an artist, and how do these reflect in your daily interactions with clients and suppliers?
So does your business have a mission statement? Do you have a question about writing one, or want an opinion about one you are working on?
Share it in the comments here with us. A few sentences can change how you and the world perceive your business. And remember, just like everything in your business plan, you can always (and should!) adapt, change, and revise as you grow and evolve.