Writing a business mission? Define what your new business is NOT.

Crafting a business mission statement will help you more easily prioritize and guide your activities. 

As a new entrepreneur, your mission will help you start gaining strategic clarity – the ability to define a vision for the future and see clearly what is and is not a part of that vision.

This is part 2 of a series on the value of writing – and using – a business mission statement. In part 1, I shared some examples of effective mission statements and a simple formula for how to write one for your business. Now, in part 2, we’ll explore everything your business is not. Why? Well, sometimes the best way to identify what you want is to state clearly what you don’t want. 

Think about the strike zone in baseball. It’s a guide that allows the umpire to quickly, and almost instinctively, call balls and strikes. And, for the batter, to improve the odds of a strong hit. It certainly helps to know what space the strike zone occupies, but it can also be very helpful to know what is fully out of bounds. 

A business mission can serve a similar purpose for an entrepreneur. It takes discipline, but you can get more comfortable by defining everything that falls outside of your mission – your personal strike zone. 

Writing a mission statement? Start with what you don't want.

Define what your business’ mission isn’t. 


  • Use the fill-in-the-blank statements below to think about what your business is not. 
  • List as many words in each space as needed. In fact, the more, the better. 
  • Write down your answers and keep them just as visible as your mission, at least until you get comfortable making decisions on the fly. 

Success Tips:

  • Put yourself in the future: what do you see and what should you never see? 
  • Think from your customer/client’s perspective? What’s not important to them? What would they absolutely run away from? Who don’t they want to be?
  • What’s true today that shouldn’t be true in the future?What is it that you’re trying to change?


  • My business is not ______. My business is ______. 
  • I serve ______. My target demographic does not include ______. 
  • I never want my customers/clients to feel ______. Instead, I’ll do everything I can to help them feel ______. 
  • My ideal customer/client doesn’t want ______. Rather, they want ______. 
  • As a business owner, I will never ______. I will always ______. 
  • I’m responsible for ______. I’m not responsible for ______. 
  • I want to build something that ______. I’m not trying to be ______. 


  • How would you prioritize your “to-don’t-list?” What feels especially important?
  • How did this help you better understand your actual mission? 
  • What’s something you’re doing now that might not help you achieve your mission?

Keep your mission statement positive. 

Remember, a mission is about giving you a sense of direction so you can prioritize and stay productive as opposed to just busy. By getting a better handle on what your business is not, you’ve gone further by defining a left and right boundary line for yourself. That’ll allow you to color inside the lines you’ve drawn for yourself. 

But, don’t dwell on what it isn’t. This is just an exercise to help you gain clarity on your actual mission. Fight for the mission you believe in. Stay focused on how it will help you unlock the future you want for yourself and your business. 

Learn more. 

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