Every business is meant to serve a purpose, and this purpose is stated in its mission statement. Determining a company's mission involves thinking about its core business, the customers it wants to serve and their preferences. While this seems a simple task on its face, it has far-reaching effects on the success of the business. There are various approaches to determining the mission of a business. The market-oriented approach is one of the most effective ones.
Focusing on the organization's products or technologies is one way to define its mission -- for example, “We are a wireless technology provider.” However, an effective mission statement should concentrate on what customers need. Products and technologies become obsolete, but basic market needs are more stable over time and can guide organizational efforts more effectively. A simple, customer-focused mission statement could be: “We help people connect.”
A market-oriented mission improves the survival of a business in today's competitive economy. Such a mission statement signals that the company should continuously gather information about the needs of its customers. A market orientation requires entrepreneurship and the right organizational climate to nurture learning from customers and competitors. Learning helps constantly adjust to changing customer needs, thereby improving customer satisfaction.
Defining the company's mission requires answering fundamental questions about the very existence of the company. To begin with, determine the core business of the company, the broad business area it wants to compete in. Next, identify the customers in the specific business area that the company wants to serve and their preferences. Finally, decide how the company can provide better services than the competition.
The emphasis on current customers may lead to ignoring emerging opportunities in other markets and taking risks to exploit them. Another concern is that focusing on information from customers may lead to ignoring other sources of information. For example, businesses in other industries, universities and government research centers can be sources of information for innovative new products and services. Additionally, a market-oriented mission statement is effective only if employees are involved and empowered to implement it.