Understanding the Terms: Mission & Vision
Every business starts as an idea, and step one in launching a business is to come up with an idea that fills a need.
An entrepreneur needs to be creative and ask these questions:
- Why do I desire to start a business?
- Why is this important enough to invest a lot time and resources?
- What sort of business do I want?
- What services or products will my business provide?
- What is unique about the idea behind my business, and what is it meant to provide?
- Whom does it serve?
Each organization or business is unique in its background, mission, and culture. These are reflected in vision, values, and mission statements, which provide vital inspiration and momentum.
- Vision keeps you progressing when the going gets tough and odds are against you. A vision describes a positive, ideal future and lends meaning to your efforts. It gives a larger sense of purpose, meaning that employees and partners see themselves as part of something worthwhile.
- Values act as guidelines for conduct and behavior as you work towards your vision. They reflect the core ideology and deeply held values of an organization. They do not change over time and are reflected in most activities.
- Mission is what creating a business is meant to achieve. It has to be reassessed and updated every so often, so the company stays dynamic. A mission statement describes the overall purpose of a business– what you do, for whom, including the why and how. It shows boundaries for current activities. It keeps the organization on track, so its activities do not become skewed to meet the needs of stakeholders besides clients.
Writing a vision statement
Understand why you are launching a business and write a vision statement as a starting point for the process of planning your business.
The process takes a dream from your head, where it runs unfocused in numerous directions, and creates a simple, clear goal. It tells you and the world what your business represents.
A vision statement is the big picture and should be inspiring and lofty enough to hold your dream. A business dream may take years to accomplish, but a vision statement keeps you motivated during the ups and downs of running a business.
- Be sure your vision excites you and really pushes you up and forward, to create the business and life you really want.
- A vision statement is not a set of goals, nor do you have to list specifics– stay with the big picture.
- Why will you do this day in day out?
- Why will others want to join you?
A picture of the future
A vision statement is a picture of the future, not dependent on reality or fact.
- A vision statement inspires you and everyone around you.
- A strong, compelling vision statement pulls others forward. It means you don’t have to invest as much energy in pushing employees to accomplish their goals.
Jot down thoughts and ideas
It takes some effort and time to write a vision statement. Don’t expect it as a ten minute exercise.
As you go about other tasks during your day, jot down thoughts and ideas as they occur to you. This allows the vision statement it to jell over a period of time.
Always have stationery handy, because ideas will come to you while jogging, working on a boring, unrelated task, or in the shower.
Reconnect with your original dream often and ask yourself these questions:
- If I had the ability to change the world, how would I set about it? Why?
- Personally and in business, what values are crucial to me?
- What would I hope people say about my business?
- What do I not want people to say about my business?
- What do I hope my business will look like in 5, 10, 20 years time?
A call to action
An effective vision statement needs to be short but powerful, and includes a call to action that motivates you on days when you don’t like to wake up in the morning.
Writing a mission statement
How you will achieve your vision? Creating a mission statement is an important part of planning your business, a process that starts with the end point in mind.
- A mission statement is the big picture of what your business will look like in five to ten years.
- A mission statement answers the question: How will I achieve the business vision?
- It spans a bridge between your vision’s lofty ideas and details of action planning.
A mission statement is the road map to your destination, much like setting out on a weekend drive. You have to know the direction to your intended destination before setting business goals. The road map usually requires answers to three questions:
- What does the business do?
- What can customers count on?
- What are the values the business is committed to?
Keep it short and each answer may be a separate paragraph.
Tip: Involve team members, if they exist, in creating a mission statement. This gives them ownership and creates commitment.
Combining vision and mission statements
Some business owners prefer to combine their vision and mission into a single statement. Remember, both are intended to keep you focused, so do what works for you.
Seed to business growth
Ideas breed vision. They are the seeds from which a business grows and expands. Being creative starts by questioning everything and asking “Why?”
If you have a picture in your head, with your values as guidelines, and you have formulated a clear mission, your business will have a culture that pushes everyone to the peak of their potential.