The mission statement is the first, crucial part of a freight broker’s business plan. It identifies the goals of your freight brokerage, the specifics of how to achieve these objectives, and the principles that will guide your business in achieving its goals.
The problem is, too many businesses don’t find value in their mission statements. It only exists for compliance’s sake, a bunch of words that get consigned to oblivion once they’ve satisfied officialdom. The power behind mission statements isn’t harnessed. Instead of giving enterprises a laser focus on what they do, clarifying everything—it becomes a useless tool.
Mission statements are very powerful things but to keep them relevant and useful, you’ll have to craft one the right way…and then use it. The only way to know if you’re writing your business intent right is to know the mistakes that other companies have made. Here are some:
Employees and partners did not contribute to the mission statement.
The relevant stakeholders in your business were left out when your freight brokerage’s mission statement was being written. Either you outsourced the crafting or sat down one lazy afternoon and whipped out something that you think your business is all about. Whatever you did, you missed out on valuable inputs when you chose to ignore the opinions of those who had the experiences, knowledge, or background to contribute to and clarify your business focus.
Although you started and own the brokerage, collaborating with your freight agents or partners lends a broader perspective to your mission statement. At the same time, they can identify what elements should be included or modified to keep your mission statement laser focused.
Specific and desired outcomes are undefined.
While mission statements are dynamic declarations of intent, this should not stop you from drilling down to the specifics of your enterprise goals. Identifying what you want to achieve is a basic element, but when deciding on desired outcomes, keep an eye out for whether you want these goals to be for the long or short term. If your goal is achievable within, say, five years then you can be as granular as possible in your language. If you’re thinking of further expansion in the future, then let your language accommodate this expectation.
Whether the goals are achievable within two years or 10, mission statements are meant to be updated so that they remain relevant to your business. Set a schedule for when to review your business goals with your freight agents and partners and adjust them according to present and anticipated realities in your space.
What you want to do is improbable, incredible and unlikely.
Tread carefully when defining your desired outcomes. While mission statements must straddle a good balance between realism and optimism, it’s possible to stray into improbable territory. You might be laying down business goals that you have no way of attaining…which is why input from the parties that are involved in achieving your objectives are important. They keep you grounded on what’s doable and at the same time point the way to what’s achievable.
Language used is meaningless, vague and uninspiring.
The best way to capture your audience’s attention—whether it’s a customer, employee, supplier or industry partner—is to create a memorable image in their minds. Use concrete visual triggers rather than abstract concepts in your language when you’re drafting your mission statement. Creative writers would say, “Show, don’t tell.” As a freight broker, what are the images that come to mind when considering your industry? Choose images—like roads, trucks, loads, clocks, and so on—that your audience regularly encounters to create powerful triggers in their minds. Or, you can zero in on a key theme inspired by your desired outcomes to create a picture in your mind and include what you see in your statement.
Here’s the mission statement of Otis Elevators which is an excellent example of what we’re talking about:
“To provide any customer a means of moving people and things up, down and sideways over short distances with higher reliability than any enterprise in the world.”
There’s no compelling story at the heart of your mission statement.
By story, we don’t mean creative fiction. The story that’s relevant to your audience is the satisfactory resolution of a painful problem. You’re in business because there’s a problem that you’re good at solving. For example, as a freight broker, you take care of getting a shipper’s load from Point A to Point B—safely, on time and cost-efficiently—by arranging deliveries with reputable trucking firms. Right then and there, you’ve lit in on your client’s emotional hot button—the secure, timely, and cheap transport of their precious assets.
Also, provide differentiation from your competitors. Who do you serve best? What is it that you do best that the other freight brokerage firms can’t do? Include these types of stories in your mission statement to create unique branding for your company in your mission statement.
The mission statement targets a very broad audience.
Do you know who your customers are? Do you have a particular niche that you service? What do you do best as a freight broker? What is the nature of your brokerage services? When you have the answers to these questions down pat, you’ll narrow in on your target audience (or market), and be able to create compelling messages to connect with them in a meaningful way.
Your mission statement is a long essay.
If your business intent is too long winded, using highfalutin words that only people with several initials after their name can understand, then might as well ditch the effort of crafting a useful mission statement. With your mission statement, aim for short and sweet, about one to two sentences (not paragraphs). If it’s possible to use your mission statement as your slogan or tagline at the same time, then all the better. It becomes a mantra that’ll motivate you, your employees and partners for those times when the going gets tough.
There’s a lot you can do wrong when you’re trying to tell the world why your freight brokerage exists. The mission statement isn’t only a declaration of intent, it’s also your primary branding tool—it helps separate your freight broker services from the rest of the pack. By doing it right, it will keep you focused and grounded on why you’re in the freight brokerage business in the first place.
image by ImNewHere