What Makes a Great Mission Statement?

A great mission statement should be short, personal, measurable, and ambitious.

Short: Leave out the buzz words and adjectives. The mission statement should be one sentence or no more than 200 characters. This forces you to keep it focused.

Personal: It should elicit some type of feeling from people. It doesn’t need to cater to everyone, but there should be some set of people that can relate to it and understand it.

Measurable: There should be some single, quantifiable metric that you can devise to know you’re making progress towards that mission. If not, your mission is likely too vague to be meaningful.

Ambitious: It should be bigger than you and bigger than money. It should describe how you want to make the world a little bit better.

+Bonus points if it’s contrarian. You might be motivated by some contrarian belief, something that would answer Peter Thiel’s question ‘What is something that’s true but nobody agrees with you on?’ Building this belief into your mission statement may drive a very select group of people that happen to agree with you. While I do believe all startup founders should be driven by a contrarian belief and that belief might be interesting to include in the mission statement, I don’t find it as essential as other things.

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