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Ditch The Jargon: How To Write Strong Mission Statements Like These Successful Southeast Asian Start-ups

Your mission statement doesn’t have to be boring

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BY Tanya Mariano - 18 Apr 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

The phrase “mission statement” may conjure thoughts of bland, empty corporate-speak, but it's a vital part of any organization. And, when crafted well, does wonders for your business. Not only does it tell the world why your company is valuable, it can also serve as your team’s North Star, keeping you focused on goals and aspirations.

“It is your ‘why’ -- it's why you exist,” writes Larry Kim, founder and CTO of online marketing firm WordStream, in this Inc. article. “Your strategy. Your core. Your vision. Your identity. Your culture. And it can steer you toward success.”

And it's important to get it right, as a poorly written one can tarnish your image significantly.

When crafting your mission statement, keep these three things in mind.


1. Keep it short and simple

Aim to communicate clearly what your brand stands for. As such, avoid jargon and overly flowery prose, and go straight to the point.

Singaporean edtech start-up Cialfo does this well: “We are on a mission to make college application management simple, efficient & accessible!”

A mission statement that's four paragraphs long won't have strong recall, and most people wouldn't even bother reading the whole thing. Two to three sentences should be enough. In fact, even a few words can already pack a punch. For instance, Airbnb’s “Belong Anywhere” or Manila-based tech firm Xurpas’ “Building the mobile future” already says a lot in under four words.


2. Say why, not what

Go beyond just enumerating what your company does. Saying why you’re doing what you're doing creates more impact.

For example, Singapore’s Garena, whose business spans digital content, e-commerce, and payments, tells us why they want to “connect the dots” -- “We believe the world will be a better place when more people, information, goods and services are connected. It is therefore our mission at Garena to reach and connect an ever growing number of ’dots’ in the world.”


3. Focus on results, not process

Highlight how you can improve your customers’ lives. If possible, frame it in very concrete, personal terms.

A good example of this is ride-hailing service Grab’s mission statement, “Forward Together,” which is followed by a description of how exactly they plan to add value to their users’ daily life: “The goals we’ve set for ourselves aren’t easy to achieve. But we believe one day soon, every single person in Southeast Asia will be able to travel safely, comfortably, and easily to work, to college, and to tea with a few friends.”

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