Why a mission and vision statement can be worth it
From Starting a business
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They might seem pretentious, touchy-feely and – frankly – a little bit boastful. But don’t be put off- mission and vision statements serve a very useful purpose. Here’s a definition of each:
- A mission statement sets out the goals and purpose of your business. It covers the work you do, and why you do it
- A vision statement takes an aspirational look at what you want your business to achieve in the future – and it explores how you’ll get there. Essentially, it’s the hopes and dreams of your company
Why your business needs them
Having clear mission and vision statements will give your customers and colleagues a real glimpse inside your business – allowing them to see what you stand for, your ambitions, and ultimately, where you’d like your company to be in the future. This can help to build trust and connect with your hoped-for target audience – and an expanding customer base can lead to profits.
Think about a brand or company that you have a particular affinity with. Why do you like them over their competitors? Whether it’s a technology, clothing, food or drinks company, we all have our preferences.
Perhaps it’s a restaurant chain whose staff always make an effort with your kids, a fashion chain which actively recycles old garments, or a high-spec mobile phone operator whose product designs you always love.
Whatever it may be, we often stay loyal to brands because of what they stand for.
A clear vision statement is also useful because it can help to guide you strategically. You can base your future business decisions on it by comparing how your original goals and intentions match up with opportunities as they arise.
The real-world examples which inspire millions
Mission and vision statements can be as simple or as in-depth as you like. For an example of simplicity, take a look at the BBC’s statements. They’re clear and concise, yet comprehensive and interesting.
Others strive to do more with even less: Nike, Google, Tesla and TED’s missions manage to be powerful in just a sentence.
Conversely you’ll see that Amazon’s aims are more intricate and extensive, as are Gucci’s .
As well as mission and vision statements, some companies also set out values. These try to showcase the behaviours that the company deems important. Barclays’ values include ‘respect’, ‘integrity’ and ‘excellence’ – and they exist to guide colleagues, and the business as a whole.
How to write your own
Here’s how to create your own mission statement – and you can do this by yourself, or with a team of key people you want to involve.
- Outline what your company does. You don’t have to go into detail here, but do make sure you cover the basics
- Describe how you do it. There’s no need to include logistics – points of interest are where you operate and if you have partner companies
- Think about why you do it. Spend some time on this – what makes your company tick, and how? Avoid technical language (as far as possible!) and stay as simply as possible
- Pick out the important words and phrases, and bring them together in a cohesive paragraph (or two) that you feel accurately describes your business. This is your mission statement
- Share your statement with everyone you work with, and your customers
When it comes to writing your vision statement, don’t be afraid to dream big – its purpose is to help you to create a positive work culture. Here’s how to approach it:
- Think about what your business could be like in the future – in 5, 10 or even 50 years
- How will you get there? This isn’t a plan, it’s more of a hopeful approach or promise
Use simple, active language and write sentences in the present tense. If it feels right, you can add in some emotion too. Your vision statement should be passionate, encouraging and engaging. Write different versions until you find one that suits you and your colleagues
- As with your mission statement, it’s important to share this – make a plan to communicate it to those who matter
When writing your mission and vision statements, it’s a good idea to steer clear of clichés and tired business jargon. Keep them accessible to everyone – inside and outside your company – so make them bold and clear.
Put them on display
After crafting and sharing your statements, think about putting them up on public display. It will reinforce your messages and can help to keep your business goals in the forefront of the minds of your colleagues (and customers).
Where you display your statements is entirely up to you but some companies choose these places:
- In their reception and conference rooms
- On their website and social channels
- On the lock and home screens of work computers
- In the email signatures of all colleagues
- On pre-printed letterheads, business cards and stationery
Make them work for you too
Effective statements can act as a backbone to your business, provide a moral compass and act as a guiding light – communicate them far and wide, and refer back to them often.
They can also provide practical help too. For example, you can use them when interviewing potential new colleagues to see how people react to them and to gauge if they strike a chord with possible recruits.
When faced with commercial choices, they could help you decide which path to take; for example, the types of customers to target or changes to campaign for.
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