A Word About WordsIf you do get into the phase of dressing your plan for others to read, guard against meaningless words and phrases that just get in the way. It might be simple hype, like user-friendly software, or excellent customer service, or best of breed or whatever.

This kind of meaningless language turns up a lot in mission statements. What does “excellent customer service,” when it’s in a mission statement, tell you? Is there any company you know that aspires to “average customer service,” or “mediocre customer service?” Why bother to put these words into your business writing?

So the test is this: would what you’re saying in your mission statement, or your mantra, apply as well to any company in the industry? Could anybody tell, just from listening to this mission statement or mantra, which company it is? Can somebody identify you by your words?

If not, then your mission statement is useless. If it would apply as well to any other company, then trash it. Forget it.

The Dilbert mission statement generator on the web is a great example. Click and you get another mushy sounding meaningless mission statement. Don’t do that in your plan, or your summary, or your cover letter, or any business writing.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.