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A Business Owner’s Guide to Creating Powerful Vision and Mission Statements

With the entire New Year stretching out before us, it’s time to start thinking about what we want from the year ahead. As a business owner, this means thinking not just about what you want to achieve personally, but the vision you have for your business.

Often we can end the year feeling a little tired and jaded - and work is generally the last thing you want to think about. But after a bit of a break, you’re refreshed and ready to get stuck into it again with renewed clarity. This is the best time to channel your energy into creating an inspired vision for your business.

First, cut the fluff

If used properly, a powerful vision and accompanying mission statement can drive the culture of your business. But it’s all too common to see vision and mission statements with vague sentences that actually say nothing, watered down with buzzwords and high-sounding terms:

“Our goal is to continually operationalise market-driven methods to stay relevant in tomorrow’s world.”

“Our business is to continue to conveniently morph long-term high-impact deliverables so that we may endeavor to interactively coordinate business opportunities.”

“Our business is to professionally leverage existing leading-edge content while endeavoring to globally disseminate corporate methods of empowerment to solve business problems.”

If you read those statements and just saw a whole bunch of meaningless nouns, verbs and adjectives floating on hot air, that’s because that’s all they are - generated by this Mission Statement Generator. But let’s be honest, they’re not far off many of the corporate vision statements that we see.

So, how do you make sure your statement doesn’t end up like one of these? We’ve put together some tips to create a vision statement and a mission statement that keeps you motivated throughout the year and beyond.

What is a vision statement?

A vision statement is all about looking forward. A great vision is inspiring; it should get you excited about what you do.

It should outline your business goals and the direction that you want your business to head. It includes how you will help people, the value you can offer in your business and what you plan to achieve. Once you have identified this, you can work on developing strategies that will help your business achieve your vision.

How do you create a powerful vision statement?

A vision statement requires a bit of reflection on your part - what do you ultimately envision for your business - your values, culture, growth, goals, deliverables? Aspiration is good, but loftiness is bad, so keep it specific when it comes to your goals.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What does your business look like?
  • What are you known for?
  • How do you measure success in your business
  • How do you make people feel - customers and employees?
  • What is your role in the industry?
  • What kind of people work for your business?
  • What kind of people are your customers?
  • What do other people say about your business

Some tips for writing your vision statement:

  • Dream big. Why not? This is your business and you can take it anywhere you like. Where do you want it to be in five years from now? What do you want to have achieved? You can pick your own timeframe, perhaps you want to make this a yearly exercise, 5-yearly, or longer.
  • Write as though you’re already in the future. Use present tense and write as if your vision has already happened, not as if it is ‘going to’ happen.
  • Use short words and sentences to keep it engaging. Try to keep the overall statement very brief.
  • Use language meaningful to you, your employees and your clients. Consider each word carefully - does it genuinely reflect your business and your actions.
  • Avoid generic feel good statements - a statement that could represent any business on the planet is no good for your vision statement. Your vision statement should clearly define what business you’re in.
  • Focus on what your business does for others - how does your business help your clients? Why do your employees feel motivated about working at your company? A great simple and direct example is from Amazon: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
  • Show passion and emotion through the language that you use.
  • A vision is not your strategic plan - a vision tells you where you are going, but your plan will tell you how you’re going to get there (which you can begin once you’ve nailed your mission).

What is a mission statement?

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Image via Tom Fishbourne, The Marketoonist

Your vision statement shouldn’t be confused with your mission statement. Mission is all about ‘doing’. Your mission tells your clients, employees and community what your business is all about. So these should focus on the practical things you will do on a daily basis to achieve what you’ve outlined in your vision statement, i.e: what do you need to do to make your vision a reality?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do we do?
  • How do we achieve it?
  • Why do we choose that approach?
  • Who are we doing it for?
  • What value do we deliver that is different to our competitors?

Tips for writing your mission statement:

  • Short and sweet. Try and nail your mission statement in a sentence or two. Twitter sums up their mission in just a line: “We instantly connect people everywhere to what’s most important to them.”
  • It’s not about just what you do, but why you do it.
  • Avoid jargon. Keep the language simple with words that resonate with your audience.
  • Create a statement that your employees and your customers are motivated to ‘get behind’. Here’s a good example from The Elephant Sanctuary: “The Elephant Sanctuary is a natural-habitat refuge where sick, old and needy elephants can once again walk the earth in peace and dignity.”
  • Be succinct. Show your mission statement to someone outside your business and ask them to translate it to see if they understand your statement.

Think back to that spark of excitement you felt when you first decided you were going to start your own business. What were your motivations then? How did you want to help people? Capture those emotions in your vision and mission statements and you’re halfway there to creating messages that motivate your employees and capture your customers!

Have you been inspired to create or refine your vision or mission statement? Share yours in the comments below.

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