What’s Better? Mantra Vs. Mission Statement

Business Mantra or Mission Statement? I am no business pro to tell you which one is best, but if you’re a common sense kind of guy like me, then a mantra is the one to choose. And if you still think a “mission statement” is the only professional way to go, then read Guy Kawasaki’s post Mantras Vs. Missions You might learn something from the guy behind the Apple team.

I am such a true believer now, in that it is really pointless to have a mission statement. Think about it for one second. Do you even know what the mission of your business is? What I mean is, do you know that sixty letter mumbo jumbo written in some lost web page. Probably not, at least not verbatim.

So let look at why it makes more sense to have a business mantra. Most mission statements are essentially full of interchangeable, nice-sounding phrases like “excellence” and “leadership” that make all of them sound exactly the same. Is this what you want? A repertoire of words that nobody or their moms understand, only some kind of business lawyer.

It seems that what Guy Kawasaki’s idea is has really become a trend. If you look at most businesses nowadays, you see business mantras. Let’s look at some of the most popular ones…

  • Walmart – Save money Live better
  • Dicks – Every season starts at Dick’s sporting goods
  • The North Face – Home of technically advanced, innovative apparel, footwear, and gear that inspires athletes to Never Stop Exploring
  • Mazda – Zoom-Zoom

Now, let’s look at some mission statements.

“We provide maximum customer satisfaction through quality products, outstanding service, and efficient and effective operations.
We maintain the highest ethical relationships with our employees, customers, suppliers and competitors.
We insure our financial health and continuous growth through fiscal responsibility and efficient operations.
We sustain a superior management team dedicated to our objectives.
We assure our employees fair and equitable compensation and opportunities for individual self-expression, continuous personal growth, and professional development.
We anticipate the future needs of our customers and employees and develop the plans necessary to meet these needs and ensure growth.
We strive to make a positive contribution to the communities we serve.”

Okay this is just one…did you even finish reading it?

We aspire to be the most admired and valuable company in the world. Our goal is to enrich our customers’ personal lives and to make their businesses more successful by bringing to market exciting and useful communications services, building shareowner value in the process.

This is another one; now can you guess whose mission statements these are? Or at least what market they are in? Probably, but I am guessing that a great majority won’t. I am just guessing!

The first one is Wendy’s and then its At&t’s. Now tell me that any of those two make any sense to you. Do you think they could be explained a little simpler?

When you think of Wendy’s what do you really think? I would say Hamburgers not quality products and efficient and effective operations, right?

The point of this post is to help people that are just starting their business understand that they don’t have to come up with some long “Mission Statement.” You have the option of just having a Business Mantra that everyone will understand. And if you make it easier to understand, more people will know what you’re all about. And why waste time writing something that nobody will ever read. Not even you!

Here’s something Guy says a mantra is:

…Don’t confuse mantras and tag-lines. A mantra is for your employees; it’s a guideline for what they do in their jobs.

Mantras must be short and sweet and might not even be written down and if they need to be enforced, you’ve probably got the wrong mantra.

So, like Guy said, in simple words a mantra is three or four words that explain why your product, service, or company should exist. Its not a sixty word tome that no one can remember or believe, which is supposed to impress readers of your business plan.

If you have any ideas of how to write a great business mantra I want you to leave your comments or links to HOW-TO’s for writing one. If you like what I wrote here, please be sure to retweet and follow me on Facebook too.

Last, but not least, what is your mantra? Do people know what your business is about after 10 seconds, or are they confused?