Mission and vision statements are important parts of any strategic business plan. They not only provide a sense of purpose and direction for your business and your employees, but can help guide decisions about your business’ future. These statements talk about where your business is now, what makes it distinct, and where it aspires to go in the future.
It seems like so many businesses either don’t understand the importance of having mission or vision statements, or they get confused about what makes a mission statement different from a vision statement. Often as I am visiting websites, I come across mission statements that are actually vision statements, or mission and vision statements that are identical. The mission and vision statements should be living breathing statements that change and grow as the business changes and grows.
Now is a great time to revisit your mission and vision statements, make sure they still represent your goals, and truly differentiate your mission from your vision.
What are the differences between a mission statement and a vision statement, and how can you create effective ones to help drive your business forward? Let’s look at the differences between mission and vision statements and talk about how you can create effective ones for your business.
A mission statement is your reason for existing, your mission as a business. It talks about the current state of your business and it does it by answering three simple questions:
- What? What services do we provide? What do we do? What makes us different?
- Who? To whom do we provide these services? Who is our clientele?
- Why? Why do we do it? What is the goal?
A mission statement should be clear and concise. And it should provide a sense of purpose and direction for you and your employees.
Example: To provide the people of Albuquerque with the finest massage and skin treatments available in a serene and peaceful environment in order to help develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
When you are writing a mission statement, keep it simple. Sit down and answer the What/Who/Why questions and then boil that down into a simple statement. One or two sentences at the most. It should be something that all of your employees should be able to understand and also feel inspired to demonstrate on a daily basis through their work.
A vision statement focuses more on long-term goals and where your business is heading in the future. It is usually a more aspirational and inspiring goal that should help drive your business practices and decisions for years to come.
It answers a few important questions:
- Where – Where do we envision our business 5, 10, 15 years from now?
- What – What do we want our business to be?
- How – How do we want to do it?
Example: To be a leader in improving the health and wellness of our community by providing inspired treatments, teaching our clients healthy practices, and fostering wellness education.
A vision statement is much more aspirational than a mission statement. You are envisioning your business’ ultimate goal. It should serve as the final point in a road map that guides you and your business from where it is today to where you would ultimately like it to be. Once again, it should be a simple statement – a living goal that inspires and drives you and your employees.
One thing to keep in mind is that these are not static statements. Your mission and vision statements can change and evolve over time, as the market and your competition changes. But, if written effectively, they should not need to change very dramatically. Good mission and vision statements will always tie back into the core values and principles that drive your business.
Here are 2 of the biggest ways that effective mission and vision statements can have a profoundly positive impact on your business.
- Powerful Mission and Vision Statements Will Foster and Strengthen Your Business Culture
Powerful mission and vision statements can serve to strengthen your business culture through a shared sense of purpose and identity amongst your employees. Employees who feel inspired and like they are working as a team towards an admirable goal are going to be happier and more invested in your business.
- Mission and Vision Statements Make it Easier to do Long Term Planning
Having well thought out mission and vision statements make it much easier to see the big picture when you are making decisions that affect your business in both the short and long term. Having an idea of your long-term goals will mean that any decisions you need to make about your business are easier because they need to be in support of both the mission and the vision you have already set forth.
By taking the time to sit down and focus on crafting strong mission and vision statements for your business, you are not only empowering your business in the present, but helping to set it up for future success. When well thought out and properly written, these statements can become the guiding principles in helping to grow your business and to enabling it to continue to be viable and competitive in this changing economy.
*** This article is part of our “Time for a Tune Up” series, designed to help you tune up your business practices, get ready for the holidays, and think about your business and marketing strategies, both for the rest of this year and heading into 2015. It’s not too early to start thinking ahead, and now is the time to start preparing for even more success.