The *New* Cahoots Mission Statement

Inspiration

Inspiration

In the world of quickly proliferating, fast-growing companies, mission statements are more valuable than ever. But what is a mission statement? Essentially, it is the reason your company or organization exists. Mission statements help you address what you’re doing and who you’re serving, which help align all of your employees and ensure everything they do is in service of the mission.

However, several mission statements fall short of this goal. A lot of them are too long, contain complex language, are hard to remember, and often generic. (Could a direct competitor use your statement with no material difference?) As a result, despite an organization having the best intentions in laying out a mission statement, it doesn’t always accomplish what it can.

When we started Cahoots, we knew what the mission was and the purpose for it. However, we never took the time to sit down, put pen to paper, and craft a real mission statement. If you looked at our website a couple months ago, you would’ve seen this:

“Cahoots exists to amplify Ann Arbor’s tech ecosystem by serving its startups, fostering its community, and increasing its visibility.”

Let’s go over some of the things we discussed before with this statement in mind. Is it long? In the grand scheme of things, it’s definitely on the shorter side of some mission statements out there. However, we felt trying to come up with three phrases and separating them with commas ended up making it feel artificially longer.

Does it use complex language? Absolutely. Words like “ecosystem,” “fostering,” “visibility,” and “amplify” are key words in this statement, but are not ones we use every day. In an effort to describe our mission, we used words that were jargony and come off as vague which diluted the overall gravity of the statement. Which stakeholders are included in “ecosystem?” What does “visibility” mean to us? How do we plan on “fostering” our city’s startups?

All of these things create blank spaces that leave room for confusion in our effort to appear like we belong in the tech space. As a result, this statement was absolutely hard to remember. Most of our team couldn’t recall this statement on the fly, especially not word for word, which means we definitely weren’t aligned with the message.

Finally, was it unique? Not at all. The language we used could easily be assigned to any other coworking space or even an incubator. What was it about us, as Cahoots, that defines us and helps us achieve our mission in a way that only we could? Clearly, we had some work to do.

Our process for crafting a new mission statement was based on this resource (check it out if you’re curious for the in-depth explanation). To start our session, we named our key stakeholders, which to us, are our members and the broader tech community. The mission statement should keep these groups at the forefront, as your purpose is likely to serve them and deliver a superior product or service to them.

With our stakeholders in mind, we then discussed the things we thought defined us and grouped everything into categories based on their similarities. Finally, we labeled each category with a word or two that summed up everything in that category. What this did was help us capture all of our thoughts about our resources and capabilities and keep us focused on those things as we started to come up with words that could be used in our unique mission statement. This helped each word be descriptive and special to us, not generic or vague.

When it was all said and done, we produced this as our final mission statement:

Cahoots is a uniquely inspiring tech hub designed to help our members and community thrive.

Let’s break down the meaning behind each statement and word here, because they all matter, especially to us.

“Cahoots is a uniquely inspiring tech hub.” We felt this was incredibly important because we desire to do things differently. We like impromptu cappuccino barscelebrating big wins for our membershouse cars, and of course, flamethrowers. We want to do things way out of the ordinary for a coworking space and inspire everyone who comes through our doors to do things differently. In this way, only our team and company could fit this part of our mission statement.

“Designed to help our members and community thrive.” This part comes back to the stakeholders we mentioned earlier, and also answers the question, “Why do we exist.” Our goal at the end of the day is to serve our members, the people who have trusted us with providing them a creative, open space to collaborate and help them succeed. We also aim to serve the larger community, both tech and non-tech, by providing a true center of gravity for tech entrepreneurship that we believe will drive excitement and economic stimulus to the Ann Arbor area. We’re striving to do this in a very purposeful way, with everything we think a growing startup community requires.

All in all, we felt this new mission statement checks all the boxes needed and gives our team a guiding light to help us move forward, ensuring our Cahoots members thrive.

Stay tuned for more to come as we work on fleshing out both our vision and values as well!