Merriam-Webster defines a mission statement as “something that states the business or goal of a business or organization.” A mission statement is a short and concise action plan based on things you do each day. It explains why you are in business and what you want to accomplish. Think of it as your elevator speech.
Your mission statement provides direction to develop goals and future plans. Yes, it may seem abstract, but a well-developed mission statement adds clarity, understanding and describes what you do, your reasons for being in business and what is important. At its core, a mission statement reflects the underlying values, goals and purposes of the farm business and those in management. You can develop your mission statement by answering a few questions and summarizing responses into a brief one or two-paragraph statement.
Developing a mission statement
When developing a mission statement, give attention to what is important to the business now and in the future. Start by thinking about the following questions:
- What is the basic reason for the dairy farm’s existence?
- How does it serve the family and the community?
- Why is it unique?
- What are the farm’s strengths?
Consider the future of the farm business, family, standard of living, leisure time with family, duration of the farm business, passing the farm to the next generation and retirement. Be sure to involve family members and employees in this process. It is important that others involved in the farm operation have the opportunity to provide input. This will provide a more truthful statement of what the farm business does and what it values. This approach also provides for greater buy-in and acceptance by those involved in the business. Think broadly and write down ideas as they come to you and do not limit or prioritize your ideas. Share your ideas with others involved in the farm.
Next, start thinking more specifically, maybe adding more notes, and begin to develop draft forms of the mission statement. Do not rush the process. Your mission statement can be written in paragraph or bulleted form. Either is fine. The important thing is that it be written and used.
Finally, compile the notes and drafts to write the mission statement. Once the mission statement is completed, type it, frame it and hang it in the office, milking parlor, employee break room or another location where it can be viewed by managers, employees, family members and others.
Example mission statement
As mentioned previously, a mission statement is a concise description that reflects the values, goals, and purposes of the farm business. The following example mission statement reflects the thing of importance to this family: “Our mission is to produce and market high-quality milk in sufficient quantity to provide a good standard of living for our family and our employees. The business should be profitable enough to provide above- average compensation for employees and long-term financial security for our families.”
Using your mission statement
The value of a mission statement comes from its active use. Use it to guide the goal-setting process and when making decisions. Successful businesses are built on strong foundations. Taking the time to develop a mission statement will provide your farm business with the meaningful foundation it needs to be successful today and in the future. Over time, the mission statement may change as the business progresses. Periodically review your mission statement and make changes when appropriate.
Getting started. There are resources developed by Ohio State University Extension that can assist in you in developing a mission statement. I encourage you to consult the following:
15 Measures of Dairy Farm Competitiveness https://dairy.osu.edu/sites/dairy/files/imce/2019%2015%20Measures%20of%20Dairy%20Farm%20 Competitiveness%20Final%20%281%29.pdf
Developing Goals for the Agricultural Business: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/anr-45
Whole Farm Planning Model: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/anr-52
I encourage you to use the resources provided in this article and work with your local extension professional to develop a mission statement for your business.
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