Why have a Mission Statement?

Do you have an overarching mission statement for your creative practice or arts business?

My current one is simple. “I run businesses that help others succeed.”

That idea informs my work as a resume writer and as a creativity coach. If I am going to write something, make a video or publish a book, I want the idea that it helps others succeed in some way, be the founding principle.

Success may not mean in your business necessarily. It might mean personal growth, enjoyment or reaching towards mastery. On the other hand, if your goal is finding a job, then success is easy to define as getting hired by an employer.

I wrote my mission statement to cover more than one aspect of my professional life. I have two digital businesses. The Statement helps me avoid activities that are unhelpful or less relevant to the ultimate goal. Perhaps an activity that has little effect on other people’s success can be relegated to a personal or hobby status. That’s good! One less thing to worry about.

I came to my Mission Statement by looking at what my businesses had in common, and why I started each one. In both cases I felt like I had something useful to offer, but I wanted the get to the core of the way my offerings were useful. That is how I came to the idea of “help others succeed” as against feel good, or be happy, or enjoy their arts practice, or have a closer family life, or any number of other worthy aspirations that might only be a part of anyone’s definition of success.

If you want to write a mission statement for your business or arts practice, first ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I do? List all the activities that are part of your business or creative life.
  • What do I want? What does being successful mean to you – your goals over the long term? For me that was where the “run businesses” part came in. My goal is to be self-supporting so I can contribute in a real way to my family’s prosperity.
  • What do I need to do to get to the end goal? Since I am running a couple of service businesses, other people’s satisfaction is the most important rubric.

Then after generating a lot of words, it’s time to consolidate and edit. My original draft had a lot more in it about my goals, and about specific steps, and even some time frame aspects – all extremely important and useful pieces of information for me to have in my notebooks. However, they were the frills and decoration around the essential concept. Reduce, reduce, reduce. After a while, it hit me in a real blast of clarity, that this simple phrase worked best.

I also do work and writing around finding my ideal clients, and determining their needs, but that still is part of my Mission Statement. If I am going to help others succeed, I need to offer them tools or ideas or information that will work for them. Not everyone will be an ideal client. My Mission Statement does not say “I help everyone succeed.” If some business or skills set or industry is entirely outside of my purview, I probably won’t be able to help people in that arena succeed. They aren’t my clients! I can’t always help everyone do better work – but I can help them talk about their achievements on a resume. If people don’t like my artwork or my ideas, they aren’t my customers. That’s OK, and it doesn’t affect what I am trying to do.

In the end my Statement is a tool to help me explain myself succinctly, to help me succeed, to help me focus. If you feel the need to bring your practice into focus, perhaps you need a Mission Statement too.

Want to discuss your Mission Statement, or need help distilling it? Join the discussion on the Facebook Group.