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Mission statements matter. Business owners who ignore them are at a disadvantage. Some leaders think they are just mumbo-jumbo, feel-good nonsense words that just hang on the breakroom wall.

No one really pays attention anyway, so why bother? Well, yes, if that’s the role of your company’s mission statement, then don’t bother.

But creating, embracing, and activating a purposeful mission statement is an entirely different matter. Owning a truly significant mission statement brings great benefit. And while you can certainly be profitable without one, it’s doubtful that the business will ever thrive.

As the business owner, you know why the business exists in the first place. You had a passion for some good or service and saw a need in the marketplace. Think back to the early days of your company. Chances are you wanted to do something novel or better, and you were excited about it. While you were likely motivated by profit, that was probably secondary to your passion for the good or service that launched your business.

But do your employees understand that passion? Do your customers? Do your other stakeholders? If they don’t, you’re settling, not flourishing. If there is no sense of purpose to your business other than selling goods or services to make money, then you’re doing it wrong.

When employees think the only reason to show up is just to get a paycheck, even if it is a healthy paycheck, your company is going to be mediocre. For your employees, a mission statement is central to helping them find meaning in their work. People want a sense of purpose. We all need to be part of something bigger than ourselves. That’s the way we are hard-wired.

Research shows that employees with purpose beyond just collecting wages are happier, more productive, and change employers less often. They find more value in their jobs, feel they are accomplishing good, and as a result, perform better. And you can’t ignore the impact of employee performance and retention to the bottom line.

Correctly crafted and executed mission statements act as “internal marketing” with employees, giving them the rationale for their work. Employees have to understand why the company exists in order to successfully connect with the business’s external marketing program.

After answering the “Why?” of the company, mission statements move on to the “What?” Don’t miss this powerful tool to direct all the actions of your workers. If one of your managers has an idea for a new product, does it align with the mission statement? If your marketing consultant wants to create a new advertising campaign, does it align with the mission statement? Harnessing all the activity of the company in a disciplined way around the mission promotes strategic thinking, focused action, and better results. If an idea fails to advance the mission, then it needs to be re-worked or scrapped all together.

In Part 2 of this article, we will walk through examples of how mission statements guide employees and foster sales among customers.