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WRITING A SMALL BUSINESS MISSION STATEMENT

Every element of a brand is unified by the business mission statement. It is an opportunity to define company goals, ethics, culture, and decision-making in one to four short sentences.

Most mission statements are junk because they are meaningless hype and do not describe the real business. A mission statement is not a checklist item.

A well-developed, working small business mission statement is a vital tool for understanding your business, developing products or services, and communicating business goals. It needs to answer questions potential customers will have about your business.

Unfortunately, few mission statements actually contain substance.

Cartoon by marketoonist.com

How to Write YOUR Mission Statement Step-by-step

For the following sections, be as specific as possible. A mission statement should deal with more specifics than generalizations. But, you want to think big and dare to dream, so don’t be overly specific.

Inspiration: Why Are You in Business?

This is an incredibly powerful question to answer. It will either make writing your small business mission statement easy or very difficult.

For some of you, the reasons below frame your mission statement. For those that realized that their business practice doesn’t match their reason for starting the business or that the business has spun out from the reason the business started… it’s not too late to turn your business around.

To Bring Inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. Nike

To-Do

  • check
    Write 5 reasons you are in your field
  • check
    Write 3 reasons you started this business
  • check
    Write 5 reasons you do it

VALUE: THE BUSINESS

We will be the easiest pharmacy retailer for customers to use. CVS

TO-DO

  • check
    What does your business really do?
  • check
    What do you offer your customers?
  • check
    How is your business different from your competitors?
  • check
    Who are your customers?

INSPIRATION: THE CULTURE

Assess the true core of your company culture. It may be helpful to ask others within your company for their genuine input. Feel free to create a buffer to get real answers. For instance, you can ask for anonymous answers to a Q&A. Also, you can reach out to those outside of your company for feedback. Keep the request light to anyone you ask. You are looking for what comes to their mind first when they think of your business.

At American Express, we have a mission to be the world’s most respected service brand. To do this, we have established a culture that supports our team members, so they can provide exceptional service to our customers. American Express

TO-DO

  • check
    What is your company culture?
  • check
    What role do your employees play?
  • check
    What does your business stand for?
  • check
    How does your company help the community?

WRITING: THE TRUTH

The first step is taking all the answers below and writing them into paragraphs. Once, you’ve done that… check it for honesty and truth. Ask people to read it.

Once you receive feedback, re-write it. If it captures your business, it’s time to edit it down to a few sentences. This is where you’ll learn what really matters to you (and in some cases what type of person you are…).

To combine aggressive strategic marketing with quality products and services at competitive prices to provide the best insurance value for consumers. Aflac

TO-DO

What is the goal of the company for the owners?

  • check
    Growth
  • check
    Profits
  • check
    Cashflow
  • check
    Happiness
  • check
    Fulfillment

Be Honest

No matter what, be honest in how you represent your business. Mission statements are not etched in stone. Your mission today may change tomorrow.

24 INSPIRED MISSION STATEMENTS

We strive to be the global leader in the sporting goods industry with brands built on a passion for sports and a sporting lifestyle! Adidas

We seek to be Earth's most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators. Amazon

To care for the world we live in, from the products we make to the ways in which we give back to society. Aveda

The world’s leading provider of premium products and premium services for individual mobility. BMW

To make people's lives better everyday - naturally. Burt’s Bees

To champion every client's goals with passion and integrity. Charles Schwab

To refresh the world; to inspire moments of optimism and happiness; to create value and make a difference. Coca-Cola

To help you savor the good life. Cuisinart

To satisfy curiosity and make a difference in people's lives by providing the highest quality content, services and products that entertain, engage and enlighten. Discovery Media

Turning moments into memories for our guests. Fairmount Hotels & Resorts

To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google

Makes the world a more caring place by helping people laugh, love, heal, say thanks, reach out and make meaningful connections with others. Hallmark

To create a better everyday for all people impacted by our business. IKEA

To provide superior service in every aspect of our customer's air travel experience. JetBlue

Spreading the power of optimism. Life is Good

Making the whole planet feel better. One bottle at a time. Naked Juice

Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. Patagonia

To inspire a consumer revolution that nurtures the health of the next seven generations. Seventh Generation

Spread Ideas. TED

To enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news and information. The New York Times

We're in the business to help improve lives. With every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need. One for one. TOMS Shoes

To facilitate the financial security of its members, associates, and their families through provision of a full range of highly competitive financial products and services. USAA

Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially-conscious businesses. Warby Parker

To embrace the human spirit and let it fly. Virgin Atlantic

Read More About Mission Statements

Mission Statement Generator (Manual Version) | Joe KS
"Select Your Own Mission Statement Components
(Mission Statement = Opener + Adverb + Verb + Adjective + Noun + Conjunctive + Closer)"

HOW TO GET YOUR CUSTOMERS TO WRITE GOOGLE REVIEWS OF YOUR BUSINESS

Encourage your customers to help with your business' marketing. Your digital marketing materials, including your website and social platforms, should include trust signals. The most influential trust signal for a potential customer is a customer review.

Keep in mind genuine reviews are always best. You never want to demand a good review. It is off-putting to the person you are asking and it will result in unbelievable reviews. 

Customer reviews can also provide the information you might not have considered or been unable to attain. For instance, it is helpful for a curvy woman to know if a boutique sells clothes that would fit her well. Who would know this best? A previous customer who had the same question and already discovered the answer! While it may seem discouraging if a reviewer says your boutique's clothing is not fit for a curvier woman. It is helpful information for a tall woman if the review says the clothes tend on the longer side. Even bad reviews improve customer conversion rates!

Google Reviews are beneficial for your local SEO and often the first place a customer will find your business.

Make it easy for your customers to give your business a Google review by laying it out step-by-step for them. Below we have included instructions you can swipe or modify for your own use.


Google Review Instructions for Your Customers

You want customers to choose your product or service because it is the right fit for them. Your offering can be superb, but if it is not right for the customer they will see it as faulty. You want customers who love your product, so reviews are a good way to let potential customers mitigate their personal risk.

Please Write a Google Review for BUSINESS NAME

(takes ~3 minutes)

Prosper Suite - prosper-suite.com

Mobile Google Review Instructions for Your Customers

Make sure to allow customers the option to leave a review on any device they are on.

Please Write a Mobile Google review for BUSINESS NAME (takes ~3 minutes)

Prosper Suite - prosper-suite.com

Ask Your Customers

Set a system in place so you consistently ask your customers for reviews. Consider building your ask into an email campaign so you can track who and when you are asking. The best time is when the customer's experience is still fresh. They will be more motivated to share their experience and able to describe helpful details. Learn more about how to automate email campaigns with Mautic here.


Incentivize Your Ask

If you are unable to get as many reviews as you need, you can consider incentivizing it. Remember not to pay for the review, but you can offer a giveaway. We recommend to make it easy on yourself and use Amazon Giveaways. You choose the item to giveaway and only pay for the item itself. Amazon handles the rest, including shipping the item to the winner.

Simply find a product you want to use and find it on Amazon. Go to the product page and scroll past the customer and reviews to find the Set Up an Amazon Giveaway section. Click the button to start the process. You can also learn more about giveaways here.

Improve Your Local SEO

However you go about asking for Google Reviews, keep in mind you want to keep the process simple. It should become a routine process for you. Do not be dismayed if you don't get reviews right away, as the key to Local SEO is consistency and genuine responses. 

Read More About Google Reviews

How to Remove Fake Google Reviews | Whitespark 
"From a common sense and general best practices view, if you can’t respond in a calm and professional manner, don’t respond at all."


13 AMAZING ROYALTY FREE STOCK PHOTO RESOURCES

Stock photos have come a long way in the last few years. There was a time that stock photos were very generic and expensive. In the wake of the internet and blogging, photographers and artists have created websites that collect amazing images for your use. Your FREE use.

The following are our top free stock photo websites that offer high quality, free, and natural photos, images, graphics, and videos.

These images might be free, but most of them use a type of a Creative Commons license. CC licenses work alongside copyright. All works made by a person or company are automatically fully-owned by them. In order to use their works, you need permission. Creative Commons was created to easily provide a structure for people to change the copyright from "all rights reserved" to "some rights reserved".

The image used above is from a free to use stock photo website. Every website has rules on how to use and credit images. Make sure you read these and follow the rules! People are giving you their time and you need to respect that. Give credit where credit is due!

SplitShire

Instantly download royalty free high-quality stock photos and images for commercial use without copyright. Updated daily.

SplitShire Website

SplitShire

StockSnap

Hundreds of high-resolution no attribution required images. Updated weekly.

StockSnap Website

StockSnap

Death to the Stock Photo

Artists funding artists to create more stock photos. Receive free images monthly by email. Read their Official License PDF available at the bottom of the website.

Death to the Stock Photo Website

Unsplash

Free high-resolution photos. Receive 10 new photos by email every 10 days.

Unsplash website

Unsplash

IM Free

Discover a curated collection of free images, icons, and templates for commercial use by category. Images can be free for commercial use, but require attribution to the creator. Photo below is by adifansnet.

IM Free Website

IM Free

Picjumbo

Free stock photos for commercial use. Created by a photographer and website developer whose photos were rejected by the major stock photo websites. So, we created his own website.

Picjumbo Website

Picjumbo

Kaboompics

High-quality images available in individual and pack downloads. Search by tag or category.

Kaboompics Website

Kaboompics

New Old Stock

Curated collection of vintage photos from the public archives. Free of known copyright restrictions.

New Old Stock Website

New Old Stock

LibreStock

Search the best 43 free stock photo websites in one place.

LibreStock Website

MorgueFile

Over 350,000 free to download and re-use. Photos are contributed by creatives from around the world, ranging from amateur photo hobbyists to professionals.

MorgueFile Website

MorgueFile

Life of Pix

Free high-resolution unrestricted use photos added weekly.

Life of Pix Website

Life of Pix

Free Images by Getty Images

If you are looking for typical stock photos. Free Images offers photos and illustrations. You must read the usage terms for each image before you use it. Many photos permit a 30 day trial until a license is required.

Free Images by Getty Images Website

Gratisography

Free high-resolution pictures for commercial use. All pictures photographed by Ryan McGuire and updated weekly.

Gratisography Website

Gratisography

Read More About Stock Photography

This CEO Has Enlisted 250,000 Creators To Design The Future of Stock Photography | Forbes
"Today’s consumer is becoming increasingly sensitive to content that appears to be inauthentic. If it looks like an ad, talks like an ad, people will treat it like an ad."

7 TRICKS TO MAKE YOUR SMALL BUSINESS PHOTOS LOOK AMAZING

The Best Camera is the One You Have

Many small business owners hesitate to share photos on social media because they don't don't know if their images are good enough.

We recommend hiring a professional photographer to take your printable promotional photos. Check with your photographer that you can also use these on social media. But, you do not have to be a professional photographer to take photos.

A good photo doesn't require a high-end, expensive, professional camera. Great photos can be taken with your cell phone come. Below are a few tricks to keep in mind when you take photos. Also, it doesn't hurt to practice. You want to be ready when a magic moment arrives!

1. Check the Light

Your promotional photographs should all have a similar feeling to them. They should also be consistent with your brand.

If you already have professional promotional images, then sit down and review them. You want your social media photos to look and feel similar -- the same mood.

If you do not already have promotional photos, then create a "look book" of images that capture the type of photos you want to emulate. 

Light has the strongest effect on how a photo looks and the mood it sets. As you review your reference photos, ask yourself a few questions and write down your answers and observations in one place.

Is it warm like orange or cool like blue? Warm colors are typically associated with summer, whereas cool colors are winter.

Warm Colors

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

COOL Colors

Photo Credit: Paweł Kadysz on fancycrave.com

What time of day were they taken?

If the picture was taken outside, also note the type of weather. Bright, clear skies often cause harsh shadows. If the photo has clear skies and soft shadows, then there were either a cloud in the sky or something (like a white sheet) was used to diffuse the harsh light.

Bright Even Light from Mid-day

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

If the photo was taken inside, is there light coming in through a window?

NATURAL LIGHT

Photo Credit: Roman Drits on barnimages.com

NO INTERIOR LIGHT

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

IS THE LIGHTING NATURAL, ARTIFICIAL, OR A MIX OF BOTH?

Test the light sources you have available, particularly if you plan on taking pictures of people. Fluorescent light has a green to the light, which makes most people look sick. Warm colors are most flattering for portraits.

NATURAL LIGHT

Photo Credit: Roman Drits on barnimages.com

EXPOSED SINGLE LIGHTBULB

Photo Credit: Erol Ahmed

ARTIFICIAL LIGHT

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

EDISON LIGHTBULBS

Photo: Erol Ahmed

IS THE LIGHT SOFT OR HARSH?

SOFT LIGHT

Photo Credit: SplitShire, by Daniel Nanescu

HARSH LIGHT

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

Keep a notebook

Create guidelines and a checklist for photos that you or a staffer can refer to. Our staff favorite is Evernote, a searchable & shareable notebook database. Available online, computer, and mobile devices. You can access everything from everywhere. Upload images with information on camera settings, where the original photo is stored, etc.

Your photos do not need to be perfect. They just need to be close to the guidelines you create for your business.

If you have a brick and mortar store, do a day of tests to find the best time of day to photograph inside. Keep the test and notes as a reference in your notebook. Test out different times of day and lighting situations to compare and contrast.

Once you know what works, keep with it.


2. Show Your Small Business Brand Character

Create a library of photographs that capture the brand image you want to project.

What kind of activity does your business have? How do you want potential customers to think of your business? ...Or better question, what kind of activity do you want your business to have?

If you are posting pictures of people and the people are identifiable in it, ask permission before you post it online. Remember to respect people's privacy.

CHECK OUT THE NEW INVENTORY!

Photo Credit: Abigail Keenan on barnimages.com

A BOOK AND CUP OF JOE

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

2 FOR 1 APPS FOR THE NEXT HOUR!

LEEROY.ca

CUPCAKE TIME?

Photo Credit: LEEROY.ca

A soft-focus or blurry background in a photograph allows the viewer to complete the rest of the image with their own vision.

CHEERS

Photo Credit: skitterphoto.com

BACK TO SCHOOL GOODIES!

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

3. Frame Your Shot

Once you find the mood of your shots, begin playing with composition. A simple way to step outside of a perfectly symmetrical photo is to use your lens to look through objects. You can use windows, arches, and mirrors to frame your shots and add variation.

Photo Credit: Kristina Litvjak on stocksnap.io

Photo Credit: picography.co

Consider the environment around your business. Shops are not stand alone entities. They are tied to their street and the people who call the neighborhood home.

You may see your shop the same way every day, but your customers won't. Capture what is happening around you and blend it into your brand.

Photography Rule of Thirds

The basic principle of the photography rule of thirds is to break the image into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that there are 9 parts.

The theory is that an image is balanced if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines.

Photo Credit: Jan Vašek on jeshoots.com

Photo Credit: Jan Vašek on jeshoots.com

Photo Credit: SITE BUREAU

4. Represent Your Business Through Lifestyle

What is the character of your brand?

The character of your brand should be reflective of your ideal customer. ... All companies have a lifestyle they should project. An accountant? Perhaps their brand reflects a financially secure family. A pet store? A happy cat with a happy family.

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

5. Add Motion

Another way to add variation is to explore motion. The motion of people, of things... Everything has motion. Putting on a jacket. Walking down the street. A bicycle going down the street.

Unless you're a music venue, motion might be one of the harder tricks to pull off.

Photo Credit: skitterphoto.com

Photo Credit: stokpic.com

6. Treat Your Phone Like a Real Camera

For most of your photos, you will want them to be crisp and clean. Make it easy on yourself and use a tripod when you can. Find a tripod made for your phone. A flexible tripod will give you the ability to take a photo nearly anywhere. A pocket tripod or PopSocket can also do the trick and will ensure you always have a tripod with you.



There are also external lenses you can buy that will enhance your camera's abilities. If your photos are for social media, you won't necessarily need a ton of pixels. Yet, like an analog camera, it is your lens that changes the quality of your photos. Photojojo makes all lenses for iPhone and Android with plenty of options and packages, so you are sure to find what you need with them.

Photo Credit: Photojojo!

7. Build a Photo Library and Recycle

Make sure your hard work doesn't go to waste and backup your photos. Two great options are Dropbox and Evernote. Dropbox allows you to automatically upload your photos as you take them. Evernote is not automatic, but you can tag them so they are easy to find when you are ready to edit.


Everyone Has to Begin Somewhere

If you are hesitant to begin, remember photography requires practice. Start with your smartphone or what you have on hand. You don't need an expensive camera to get great photos. Instagram is proof of that.


Read More About PHOTOGRAPHY

10 iPhone Camera Features Every Photographer Should Use | iPhone Photography School 
"Turn on the grid. The grid (two horizontal and two vertical lines that divide the screen into nine equal parts) is one of the most useful photography tools on the iPhone."