The vision, mission and value statements function together to guide your business decisions and clarify your business philosophy. Whether you are creating them as a first step in establishing a business process management system or creating them as standalone tools to assist you as a business owner, you will ultimately be glad you took the time and effort to do so.
Think of your vision statement as a peek into the future of your wildly successful business. What does it look like? How are your clients or customers benefiting? Create your vision statement with these questions in mind. Do not confuse the vision with the mission: your vision is where you want to go, the mission is how you will get there.
Often business owners are tempted to focus on the mission statement first. That is what we spend most of our time on: determining what we will do and how we will do it. But try first to back up and remember why you wanted to do whatever you do in the first place. What are your long-term goals and dreams for your business? As times change a company may need to radically shift the details of how it functions but is still working toward the same goal. Kodak is a great example, as they have shifted from a focus on conventional cameras and film to digital image management.
Examples of phrases that might appear in a vision statement:
- "My clients achieve six-figure incomes after working with me for a year"
- "Our customers tell us we have made their financial lives much more secure"
- "We are honored as a great company to work for"
The mission statement clarifies what your business actually does and how it does it. Think of it as a follow-up to your vision statement: "Our company accomplishes Y (vision statement). We make this happen by doing X (mission statement)." Be careful not to be too specific, as you want your mission statement to be relevant long-term. You may only be creating static websites right now, but you may be assisting clients with many aspects of online marketing and interaction in the near future.
Examples of phrases that might appear in a mission statement:
- "We create a customized online presence for each of our clients allowing them to focus on what they do best and effectively interact with their chosen audience."
- "We provide kitchen implements that make cooking easier and more enjoyable."
- "I help my clients identify their true obstacles using coaching and meditation techniques so they can achieve their personal and business goals."
Your guiding values or operating values establish the factors that drive your decisions. What values are most important to you as a business owner? What would you never want to sacrifice regardless of the consequences? You can incorporate your values statement with your other statements: "Our company accomplishes Y (vision statement). We make this happen by doing X (mission statement), always operating according to the principles of Z (values statement)." For a small company I recommend about 5-7 guiding values.
Examples of values you might include:
- Measure twice, cut once
- Continuous improvement
- Reward excellence
- Do it right the first time
Be sure to clarify what you mean by each phrase. Intuit Inc’s list of operating values provides some excellent examples of values that you might want to include for your business. You can also view the values statements I created for my own business (on my woefully neglected website).
Using your statements
You may want to publish your vision, mission and values statements on your website and marketing materials and at your retail site. This is an excellent way to let current and potential customers, clients and partners know what your business stands for.
Refer to your statements whenever you struggle to make a decision. Perhaps you are considering taking on a new type of project that doesn’t quite fit into the type of work you have done before. Is it in line with your business’ mission? Will it help your business achieve the vision you established? Make your decision in accordance with your vision and mission rather than trying to assess every situation based on individual circumstances that may change. Perhaps you want to give employee bonuses, but are concerned about the effect it will have on your bottom line. Refer to your guiding values. If "reward excellence" is one of your values, and "money is the most important factor" is not on your list, then find a way to grant bonuses. You may need to be creative, either in the form of the bonuses or in the means of finding the money to cover them, but let your values guide you in making it happen.
For insights into using these statements for community organizations, check out the Community Driven Institute.
This post is part of the series: Create Vision, Mission and Values Statements
- Create Your Mission, Vision And Values Statements
- Creating an Effective Vision Statement
- Tips for Creating a Mission Statement
- Advice for Creating an Effective Values Statement