Finding your business compass: Mission statements

Photo by Jaelynn Castillo on Unsplash

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC

Angela Cathey, M.A.

ENSO Group

The importance of a mission statement to your businesses success cannot be overstated.  From an outsider’s perspective, a mission statement might seem superfluous. But, when you are actually in the trenches making a living as an entrepreneur, it serves as your day-to-day compass. It keeps you moving towards your finish line rather than losing yourself, or your business, in endless distractions.

Below are two reasons why your business needs a well articulated mission statement.

A mission communicates a value-adding identity.

A succinct mission helps you answer the question, “What do you do?”  Your mission gives your business an identity, and gives potential customers and business partners something to latch onto. In a behavior analytic account of verbal behavior (often referred to as Relational Frame Theory), we talk about deictic relations – those verbal relations that give you a sense of identity.  For example, “I am…a husband, wife, parent, best friend, musician,” etc. These are verbal relations tied to “I”.  Behavior analysts will also notice topographical similarities to intraverbals here.

Your mission statement is the same way, only you replace “I am…” with “My company…”.  If you stumble to state the mission of your company in one to two sentences, then you don’t really know what your company is about, and potential customers won’t either.  Moreover, a good mission statement clearly sets your company apart from others.  For example, a behavior analyst who starts an ABA agency might say “my company improves the lives of kids with autism.”  While such a statement communicates the main function of your company, there are a million other companies that do the same thing.  Why would someone seek out your autism services over those from another company?

A mission keeps you sane.

A mission also helps keep you sane.  The simple reality is that, once you “cut the cord” as an employee and jump full time into entrepreneurship, you better hang on for the ride.  It is an emotional roller coaster ride.  One day you feel on top of the world, and the next you feel as though your world is crashing down.  If your mission is simply “to make money” you probably aren’t going to survive the dips on the rollercoaster.  You need something more, something that goes beyond money that communicates the value you offer the world.

As behavior analysts, we know that years of research in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy indicates that clarifying your own values gives you direction.  Clarifying your values functions as a motivative augmental that can transform the functions of aversive stimuli into events that serve a larger purpose.  The client with disabilities who keeps aggressing towards you might come to function as a step along the valued path of “helping others” for example.  Taking an extra moment to listen to your spouse vent about his/her hard day at work might function as a step along the valued path of “being a good husband/wife”.

You can think of your mission statement in a similar way.  Knowing what your company is about, beyond making money, will help you take the long view on your business.  The financial peaks and valleys will come and go, but you will be pursuing your larger mission through it all.  Your mission keeps you going.  Your mission transforms the functions of down times to make them a little more bearable.

If you would like additional help putting together your mission, and the rest of your business plan, check out our entrepreneurial services, and let us know how clarifying your mission has helped you as a business owner in the comments below!


Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world,  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at [email protected]

Angela Cathey, M.A. is a writer, consultant, entrepreneur, and Owner, Director, and Team/Leadership Development Consultant of Enso Group. Her background is in processes of change and intervention development. She has trained with experts in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP), cognitive-behavioral exposure-based treatments, and Relational Frame Theory (RFT). Her interests are in process, innovation, and development of solutions for sustainable large-scale change. She has published in numerous academic journals on process, measurement, and intervention development. Enso-driven analytics systems are used to inform leadership and team building interventions, culture design, and research in the behavioral sciences. Angela can be reached at [email protected]. Stay up-to-date with Enso Group at and visit Angela’s personal website and LinkedIn.

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