Running a business is no joke! Effectively meeting the needs of your team and your customers, while managing your bottom line, can be a tough balance to strike.
The good news is that a clearly defined purpose goes a long way to structuring your company for success. Many new companies have mission statements, but fewer seem to have vision statements. How do you differentiate your mission vs. vision statement, and why the heck do you need both?
What is the Difference Between Vision and Mission Statements?
Mission and vision statements serve similar, yet distinct, purposes. Both set the stage for business success, especially when used in conjunction with one another.
What is a Vision Statement?
Vision Statement Definition (per Wikipedia): An inspirational statement of an idealistic emotional future of a company or group.
In other words, your vision statement is the place for you to dream. It defines where you’re headed and what you want to become.
Among many other “big picture” ideas, your vision statement can include:
- Overarching goals
- Dreams for your company
- The broadscale problem your company addresses
- Who you want to inspire
What is a Mission Statement?
Mission Statement Definition (per Merriam-Webster): a statement of the purpose or goal of a business or organization.
In essence, your mission statement clearly defines and describes the way in which you execute daily operations. A mission answers the following questions:
- What do we do?
- Who do we serve?
- How do we do it?
Benefits of a Vision Statement
There are many benefits of a vision statement, from the overarching and theoretical all the way down to the nitty gritty, nuts and bolts stuff you do every day. If you’re just starting your business, we hope you are beginning to see how a vision statement will be helpful.
But what if your business is already successful and you’re happy with where things are? You may be thinking, “Why do I need a vision statement at this point? We’re all good!”
Regardless of where you fall, here’s where a vision statement can help:
- Guidance Over Time: Keeping your eye on the prize isn’t always easy, and it’s not uncommon for a business or business owner to lose their way every once in a while. A vision statement provides a stable framework to both work within and guide you back if you find you’ve veered off course.
- Inspiration and Growth: Building a successful, sustainable business requires that you (and your team) remain inspired to innovate and grow. Vision statements are perfect for this purpose! Because they include broad, lofty goals, there is usually no limit to the ways in which those goals can be achieved.
- Brand Building: Let’s not forget the importance of branding, here! Your company’s unique brand identity speaks to your mission and vision as well as how you execute upon each.
How to Write a Vision Statement
First Thing’s First
Before trying to flesh out a meaningful vision statement, take some time to list your core values and beliefs. Start by considering the following:
- What characteristics – in yourself, in those around you, or in a business – are important to you?
- Where do you draw the line, ethically?
- What makes you happiest?
Write down anything that comes to mind right away. Then take a peek at a comprehensive list of values and beliefs to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
You’ll have a much easier time developing your vision statement if you have a good grasp on what, exactly, is important to you.
Crafting a Vision Statement
Since your vision statement is a big picture view of your overall goals, this isn’t the place to get specific. This is where you capture your hopes and dreams into one or two sentences. NBD, right? Don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be daunting. Start with the questions below.
- In an ideal world, what would your company be known for? This one is pretty theoretical, and it will probably tap into those values we discussed above. That’s great, especially if your company exists because it’s your passion.
- What are your ultimate goals for your company? Here’s where you’ll get more objective. Do you have a financial goal, a goal related to your customers, a goal related to the size of your company? While you probably won’t use the goals themselves in your vision statement, keeping them in mind will help you craft it.
- Who are your stakeholders? These are the people for whom and with whom your company exists. Stakeholders can include team members, customers, investors, or even the community at large.
Our suggestion is to write out your answers without thinking too hard or censoring yourself. Tip – if writing isn’t your strong suit, record yourself answering the questions, and then transcribe the recording afterward.
Once you’re confident you’ve captured it all, read through and pare down from there. Combine sentences, remove redundancies, and consolidate similar ideas until you’ve got yourself a few sentences you believe truly capture where your company is headed.
A Note on Mission Statements
Once you’ve crafted a kick-butt vision statement, it’s time to work on your mission statement! Aim for a single sentence that incorporates the “who, what, and how” of your business. If you’re stuck, here are 8 Questions to Consider When Writing a Mission Statement.
Mission and Vision Statement Examples
Sometimes starting from the end and working your way backward can help. If after reading this you’re still a little unsure, check out these examples from well-known companies.
Notice that they each capture the company’s distinguishing culture and values. Additionally, you’ll see the distinctive ways in which these companies position their mission vs. vision statements. Simply put, there’s no right or wrong, here. Each statement is as unique as the business it represents.
Envision Yourself with Hungry Media
Regardless of any operational changes that may (and will!) occur, a solid mission and vision statement will help keep your business on track and headed towards the future you have envisioned. It’s worth the time and effort to develop both.
Need help crafting a vision statement? Have a clear vision and ready to execute? We’ve got you covered either way, and we can’t wait to meet you! Contact us today to get started.
contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer