Your practice needs a mission. “I want to help people” is not a good reason to be in business. One could argue that every single business has that same goal in mind of helping people. The businesses that thrive are the ones that can articulate their mission and the uniqueness of how their product or service fits into the marketplace.
A mission statement clarifies a clear purpose that gives direction to what your business is aiming to accomplish. It gives direction and clarity to decisions and potential opportunities that might come along. It answers the following questions:
– To whom are you offering help? (your market);
– How can you help them (your contribution);
– What makes you different than Johnny/Suzie therapist? (your distinction)
There are two benefits for developing a mission statement: It will help you and others know what your practice hopes to accomplish, and it will help you to set mission-oriented goals.
If I put you on the spot to speak in front of 25 potential referral sources (doctors, psychiatrists, pastors, etc) and give a 30 second pitch for why they need to refer to you, what would you say? Would you ramble about a specific issue you work with, would you speak about why you do what you do, or would you struggle to get much of anything out? When you meet someone and you have 30 seconds to make an impression (which is quite a long time in the sales world), you need a reliable and concise idea that you can speak about that is unique and true to you and your practice.
Secondly, every business needs goals. A mission statement gives a “north star” for setting and reaching goals. When we set goals, they are generally too vague and open-ended. I think this is because we sometimes set goals to solve a problem, not to accomplish a desired result. For example, a therapist might be thinking “I need to get more referrals, my business isn’t as busy as I would like for it to be.” This goal is generally defensive in nature and reaching it could be realized by defining the goal by what the mission wants to accomplish. I would reword that goal to say something like, “I want to meet with 3 new therapists working with different people groups to develop a referral relationship for my practice.” This goal is more about people helping people, than getting something needed.
A mission statement doesn’t have to be something you put on your website (though you may want to), or in any printed materials. It’s a document that helps you in your clarity about why your practice exists. It can be as long as you’d like for it to be. The more specific, the better. Make sure that it’s unique to you, and why you are where you are in this field. Now is the time to get to work on this. Let me know in the comments if you have questions or any additional insight to this idea.