The mistakes you might be making when setting your business' mission

Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care. This simple, fundamental outlook is what so many of us miss when setting our business’ mission statement.

If you don’t show what is at the heart of your business, what you care about, and what you get up for in the morning, you’re just another business, out to make money in a sea of almost identical competitors.

And if you never seem to meet your business goals; never quite know how to define them; don’t track them; or perhaps don’t even have them in the first place, it’s probably because you haven’t considered the ‘why’ behind your business: why do you do what you do?

Stop wasting time with vague, uninspiring goals that you don’t follow through with, and reconsider the way you plan for the future of your business.

Make it from the heart

Woman puts her hands where her heart are across her chest

You might see yourself as a hard-nosed businessperson who simply doesn’t have time for touchy-feely emotional considerations when planning for your business.

Perhaps you want to focus purely on facts and figures – we like numbers, too (as you’ll see later on in this post) but the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. If you don’t show your business believes in something, and that you filter that belief down to your employees and customers alike, you won’t succeed in meeting your goals.

People don’t buy from a successful brand because they want the product they’re selling: they want the product because it helps them buy into an idea.

In his presentation, Simon Sinek uses Apple as an example – people don’t buy laptops and phones from Apple because they’re the only company who makes these products – or even the best company that makes them. They buy from Apple – spending hours queueing outside their stores for their latest gadgets – because they are buying into an idea. 

Apple set a goal to “think different” – then made it their slogan. By starting with this mission, then building products around it (instead of the other way around) they’ve put individuality, boundary-pushing and innovation at the heart of their message – even if it means millions of people are buying into the same philosophy, not making them “different” at all! “Think different” is what draws customers in, encouraging everyone to be an individual: everyone is special.

Simon Sinek also refers to the Golden Circle – starting with the ‘Why’ in the centre, then the ‘How’ on the middle ring, then the ‘What’ on the outside. If you aren’t reaching your current business goals, it could be because you’re leading with the ‘What’ – which is what most companies do. They lead with the part of their business that makes them average or the same as everyone else.

If you lead with your story, your mission, how you want to change the world and why you care – the floor is yours.     

Summary: The first target you set for your business needs to come from your ‘why’ questions. Have a mission. And put people at the heart of it. Ask yourself:

Why do you believe in something?

Why are you trying to help?

Why do you care?

If you make people believe in you, what they are actually doing is believing in themselves.

Examples of ‘from the heart’ missions:

  • Apple’s mission is: Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently.

  • To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world – this is the mission outlined by Nike, and of course everyone knows their ‘Just Do It’ slogan.

  • ESM Inbound’s own mission is: Everybody Smile More – we want our customers and team to be happier working with us than with anyone else, delivering better and faster service and value to your business.

Look back to step forward

Outlining your goals is the next task that follows developing your mission statement. If you don’t know your goals, then how will you know if you’ve achieved them? You wouldn’t start a race without knowing where the route will end, the distance and roughly how long it should take you to run there.

A runner prepares to set off from the starting line on a field track

Likewise in an inbound campaign, you need to know where you’re heading before jumping in. HubSpot explains this as:

“You need to know where you are to get where you are going. Before launching into a campaign, take stock of the current traffic to your site and the leads and customers generated by similar campaigns in the past. Use those as benchmarks to set goals for this campaign.”


If you don’t dedicate time to clarifying and formalising your goals, your campaign will fail before it’s even launched. Using prior examples of campaigns – if you have them – is essential.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What has your audience responded well to in the past?

  • What have they responded poorly to?

  • What mistakes have you made previously?

  • What does your data tell you about the sort of content your audience wants to see?

The language you use around your goals is also vital – again, HubSpot highlights this:

“Your goals should be more concrete than "raising awareness" and more achievable than "tripling sales in a month."


This is where the number crunchers and people in your organisation who enjoy analytics will really add value: if creating the emotions-led goals weren’t their style, this is where they can really come into their own!

In a recent course I attended about business writing at The Guardian, leading journalist Andy Pemberton encouraged participants to remember to:

“Start with goals – but you only get what you measure. Don’t measure clicks and traffic – these are false judgements, and only satisfy vanity. Instead, measure things like bounce rate, return rate, how long people spend on your page: you are building an audience, not one-off visitors.”


If you start by using everything you already have, before plunging in (which we know is tempting) you’ll find your goals become far more based on people interacting with your business, rather than vague assumptions and outlandish dreams.



We know you’ve probably worked with SMART goals before, but it bears repeating: give your goals a realistic and easy-to-follow structure. While you might have used them previously, it’s easy to get out of the habit if you don’t revisit goals regularly, so here’s a refresher: 



By using SMART goals, you’re building yourself success criteria to use later on in your campaigns. Some examples of SMART goals might be:

  • To generate 3,000 leads who are interested in social media marketing by 30th November 2019.

  • To improve rank for the keyword 'social monitoring' from 10th to top 5 on Google by August 31st 2019.

As a business, you’ll probably have short- and long-term goals; if you aren’t familiar with them, ask someone who will be able to define them for you and make them central to your marketing strategy. By seeking out your company-wide targets, you’ll be able to tailor the goals of your inbound campaign to help improve the “big picture” goals of your organisation. This will also help you decipher what is realistic for your company and give you laser focus on the end results you want to achieve.

Author Ryan Blair, also known as ‘The Goals Guy’ suggests that:

"Focus creates a powerful force: goal power. The moment you focus on a goal, your goal becomes a magnet, pulling you and your resources toward it. The more focused your energies, the more power you generate.”


If you want to make your goals reachable and know when you’ve hit them, you’re going to have to start giving them some structure.

Everyone in your team needs to be able to tell you what your goals are: this isn’t secret information to be hidden away in a vault for senior management’s eyes only. Share and repeat these goals continuously until everyone across your team can repeat them – as Blair explains above: you need everyone to be visualising your goals so they become a magnet for every bit of behaviour at your business.

These are just a few of the techniques you can use to become a better, mission-led and goal-driven strategist. All we ask is that you start: as Simon Sinek says:

"Dream big. Start small. But most of all, start."


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