At the the core of every good business plan is your vision and mission statements, along with your elevator pitch. This powerful combo gives your prospects a clear idea of what you do, how you do it, where you’re headed and how you’re going to get there. Therefore, writing your vision and mission statements is an integral part of your entire business plan that you shouldn’t overlook.
The first advice we have for you is to write your vision and mission statements last (after you have the elevator pitch and the strategic plan). Why? Because in order to get these two right you first need to know what your strategy is. Here is how to proceed from there.
- A vision is about what you see and what you are looking forward to, so the vision statement is your way of looking ahead, outlining your goals and the path you’re taking.
- A mission is about action and how you cope with day-to-day activities, so the mission statement is essentially outlining the practical things that will help you achieve your vision.
Let’s get to the finer details on how to craft these two essential elements.
The Vision Statement
So we’ve already given you a basic idea of what a vision statement is about – it’s essentially where your business is headed to and therefore it’s future-oriented. Having a good vision statement is like having that guiding light during day-to-day business tasks.
A vision statement can be between one line and a few paragraphs long. It is a source of inspiration and direction for you and your company. A vision statement should include your main goals, but it’s not about going into the details of how you will achieve them.
Here is what a vision statement is and can be:
- an outline of how your business helps people
- a summary of the value of your business
- a statement about what you’re planning to achieve
- a statement that is meaningful to you, your employees and customers
- an aspirational and motivational statement which provides the reasons for what you do
It’s important to write your vision statement in plain, everyday language; the language that you speak in and to avoid business jargon as much as possible.
Everything you need for your vision statement is already in your strategic plan, i.e. the elevator pitch (how you help people), your business values (what your business stands for), your business goals (those that reflect the essence of your business) and your business story (the identity of your business).
What’s On Your Vision Board?
Easiest way to write your vision statement is by making a vision board and including as much useful information as possible. Try defining these elements:
- the purpose of your business
- who is your business serving
- the problems your business can solve
- what is the ultimate aim and value of your business
If you are a visual person, include images and graphics to add some more energy and vibe to your vision statement. After you’ve collected enough information on your vision board, be ruthless and discard what’s not core to your business. Leave only the best bits.
Write, write, write
Use what’s left to craft your vision statement and make it special – short words and sentences, engaging language and make sure you include the value of your business to others. No doubt you will end up with a few vision statements, so make sure you choose the one that best reflects your business. Now is the time to ask for feedback – your employees, your customers, friends and family. Ask for honest feedback and be ready to improve your statement based on that.
Just like your business story and your elevator pitch, your vision statement is also up for review – continually. Of course you don’t have to question it every day, just be open for future improvements. A vision statement grows along with your business – it’s the most natural thing. Often businesses look to review these statements at least once every three years.
The Mission Statement
Unlike the future orientation of the vision statement, the mission statement is deeply-rooted into the present and offers a realistic view of the practical aspects of a business. Your mission statement should be the guidance you turn to whenever you ask yourself “What should I do today?”
Of course the phrase “mission statement” could mean very different things to different people. We’d like to think it consists of a few short sentences or paragraphs which showcase what a business does to achieve its vision. Therefore, the key to a successful mission statement lies in understanding your vision statement. Ask yourself: “What do I need to do to make this vision happen?” The mission statement is also very much customer-related, so you need to be able to answer what you do for your customers to make your vision a reality.
One such example is the following vision statement: We aim to be the digital marketing partner of choice, known for making your customers go “Aha!”. Next up, turn this vision into a mission statement, e.g. “We provide online marketing support and guidance, from websites to SEO to social media and we are creative, practical and pragmatic in achieving our customers’ goals.” See, the mission statement doesn’t have to cover everything your business does, or you do to keep your business going, yet it’s a great glimpse behind the scenes and a true reminder of the value of what you do.
Just like with the vision statement, make sure you review your mission statement and never miss an opportunity to improve it when the time is right.
Use the comment box below to share with us your vision and mission statements. Alternatively, check out the other articles in our business series.