Two of the most important steps when starting a new business are creating a mission statement and a vision statement. Though both terms are often used interchangeably, they are two very different things and should not be confused. The biggest difference between a mission statement and vision statement is the state of time.
A mission statement is essentially the definition and identification of a business’s current state, objectives and target consumer.
The vision statement, on the other hand, is an inspirational statement that expresses the company’s goals and desired future for the business.
Use the following best practices to write a compelling mission statement and a motivational vision statement while clearly differentiating the two.
Start with a market-defining story
A market defining story explains the “why to buy” and defines the buyer persona. It also explains how your company is different and unique from others. Think about your target customer and your offerings as you answer the following questions:
- Why do they want/need your offerings?
- How did they find your business?
- What does it do for them?
Your market-defining story should not necessarily be part of your mission statement. Rather, it is something to think about during the brain storming process.
Define what your business does for its customers
Start off your mission statement by stating the good your business does. Do not underestimate the value of your business. If you offer great and unique home remodeling services at a premium price, then you are doing something good. This will be a critical part of your mission statement.
Define what your business does for its employees
In addition to being good to your customers, you want to ensure that your company is just as good to your employees. Company culture, rewards and motivation are important, and your mission statement should explain how you implement positivity in all these areas. You should not simply state how your business is good to your employees, but you should state it and then work to forever make it true. Think about qualities such as:
- respect for ideas and creativity
Though it is not as common to focus on your employees, it is a growing practice that will enhance the quality of your mission statement.
Review and revise
An effective mission statement should serve several functions and stand the test of time, so it is important to discuss your mission statement with your team, read it to others outside of your company and continuously make revisions until it is perfect.
Some businesses develop a thorough mission statement with individual subsets for both internal and external use. It may be wise to consider this idea if you have a detailed and relatively long mission statement. You can create bullet points or sections that are specifically aimed at your customers, employees and even shareholders.
Most mission statement are short and give a feel for the company. After doing your homework about what is most important to your company, you’ll be able to articulate that to others. You want a statement that is clear, concise and unique. When people hear this, they should associate it with your business. Some great examples include:
- To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. (LinkedIn)
- To put people at the center of enterprise software. (Workday)
- To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. (Google)
Project five to ten years into the future
Think about a future where your business is successful in either dominating your market and competing well against other companies. What does this world look like, and what would it take to make this come to fruition? Will you still be offering the same products and services? Will you still be serving the same geographical location? Whatever future you envision for your company is essentially where your vision statement should live.
Determine your purpose and position as an organization
Your vision statement should consist of your company’s objective, advantage and scope (OAS):
- Objective: Why does our company exist?
- Advantage: How do we do things differently, better, or more efficiently?
- Scope: What should or shouldn’t we do to achieve our objective?
Your objective and advantage should be present in your mission statement. If you have already written one, use it as a foundation for constructing your vision statement.
Consider your company type and structure
Non-profit organizations tend to create vision statements that describe an ideal world while for-profit businesses usually describe their place in an ideal world. For example, if you have a home improvement company that focuses on remodeling, you may want to consider a vision statement that aims to “provide dream houses to homeowners” instead of simply “promoting happiness and comfort.”
Describe measurable goals
The best way to achieve your vision statement is by listing out goals that can be tracked and measured. Your vision statement should consist of long- and short-term goals that are both quantifiable and attainable. This way, you will be able to better set milestones and markers as a guide to measure your company’s individual achievements as you work towards your ultimate goal.
Vision statements are also usually short enough to be printed on company materials. If you want to be more in-depth, create a one sentence vision statement that you can use publicly and use the detailed statement internally to measure how you are achieving these goals. Remember to make your vision statement about the future. How is your business going to contribute to make the world a better, friendlier, safer or more comfortable place?
- To be the best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile. (McDonalds)
- Our vision is to be the provider of choice in our communities for comprehensive real estate and financial solutions. (Berkshire Hathaway)
Though writing your mission and vision statements are huge steps in the development of your business, there is still much work to be done. You will have to decide how you want to implement these statements. If you do not put them to use and get your messages across, all your hard work will have gone to waste. There are many ways to utilize your mission and vision statements. Some examples include:
- Add them to your letterhead or stationary
- Use them on your website
- Use them on T-shirts, bookmarks and other merchandise
- Add them to your press kit
- State them when you give interviews
Remember that your mission and vision statements should fuel almost all your business operations. This is why it is important to invest an ample amount of time and effort into ensuring that they are well-constructed and powerful. Trades.org can keep your business on target and in line with your mission and vision statements. Learn more about how we can keep your business growing with our advanced technology products.