What is a vision statement?
A vision statement is often confused with a mission statement. In fact, the terms are often used interchangeably; however, there are subtle differences that have a big impact on your business. A mission statement is based on the present and identifies consistent action to be taken on behalf of the customer. After all, a mission statement is written with the customer in mind.
A vision statement, on the other hand, is written for those who work within the organization and identifies the future of the company. Your vision statement should express the desired outcome, whereas a mission statement expresses how you will get there. In essence, your vision will be the result of your mission.
Why should I write a vision statement?
Remember the old adage: “Begin with the end in mind.” If you are preparing your business plan for the first time, start with where you want to go (vision) and then decide how you will get there (mission). If you already have a mission statement, remember that it started as a vision in your head. Now it’s time to articulate it, so everyone in the organization can share it. The vision statement is the magic “why” behind the mission. People thrive on purpose. Tell them why the mission is important. Tell them what we will achieve together.
What are the key elements of a solid vision?
You can build a solid vision statement on personal values or business aspects. This is entirely up to you. What motivates and inspires you? That should be the heart of your vision. Personal values include fundamental beliefs like: adaptability, cooperation, integrity, and reliability. Business aspects include finances, reputation, service standards, and growth.
How should I structure my vision statement?
Your vision statement should be short and easy to remember. Avoid industry jargon, clichés, and verbs that have been transformed into pompous nouns like representation and contribution. You want to create a vivid mental image, not impress your readers with verbal somersaults. Since you are projecting an image of the future, your verbs should be in the future tense.
What does a strong vision statement look like?
Let’s look at a couple stellar vision statements paired with their supporting mission statement:
Organization: Feeding America
Vision: A hunger-free America.
Mission: To feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.
Organization: Teach for America
Vision: One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.
Mission: Our mission is to enlist, develop, and mobilize as many as possible of our nation's most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.
With a compelling vision statement, you can create a solid foundation for your company and motivation for everyone who works there. A vision statement helps everyone stay focused on the desired outcome and serves as a guiding principle for decision making. A strong vision statement clearly paints a picture of what success looks like, and allows everyone in the company to take ownership of that vision. With a vision statement, “mine” becomes “ours.”