These days I’m working on a project where I’m writing vision and mission statements not just for the main company, but also for individual departments.
This gave me the idea of writing this blog post on how to write effective vision and mission statements for your company.
Over the years I have written countless vision and mission statements for different businesses and I can remember just 2-3 instances when the client was passionate about what was to be written for vision and mission statements. Otherwise, most of the clients just ask me to go through other websites and come up with my own (“but highly unique” – quote/unquote intended) versions.
Yes, it reflects on what sort of clients I attract, but that’s another story.
They don’t even know the difference. Just because everybody seems to have vision and mission statements, and without these statements, the “About us” page seems incomplete, they want to have them.
On second thought, why blame them? While trying to research for the topic, I came across many blog posts, even from the so-called reputed websites, that ended up mixing up vision and mission statements. I mean, the topic says something like “20 best vision statements” and they then go on to quoting mission statements from famous companies.
What is the difference between your vision and mission statement?
Sometime back I read a very good statement on the Internet about vision and mission statements:
Your mission statement is about what you are doing today, and your vision statement is what you are going to do in near future.
You must have come across the phrase “man with a mission” (or for the sake of feminists, “woman with a mission”). Or something like “we are on a mission”.
It means, you are doing something right now.
A mission statement answers the following questions:
- What you do?
- For whom do you do it?
- How do you do it?
This is what I have written as my mission statement:
My mission at Credible Content is to provide business writing services that actually help my clients grow their businesses.
Vision statement is about the future. What are your hopes and dreams? What bigger changes do you want to bring about in the world? What do you inspire to be?
Your vision gives your clients and customers an idea of what are your bigger goals. Remember that your bigger goals define the direction of your smaller goals.
Why is it important to have mission and vision statements?
Above I have written that very few clients take their mission and vision statements seriously. But there are some individuals and organizations, that do take your mission and vision statements seriously.
Your mission statement tells them your current focus. It tells them what problems you are currently solving. It tells them who your customers and clients are. It basically informs them of the nature of your current activities and whether the profile of these activities makes you suitable for them or not.
Your vision statement tells them where you are heading. Serious businesses want to associate with serious businesses. If you are not serious enough to even focus on your vision statement, then you are not reliable.
Hence, if you feel that your website is turning away good customers and clients, maybe you need to work on your mission and vision statements.
How to write a great mission statement
I will say it again: most of the people don’t know the difference between mission statement and vision statement and they tend to mix them up. Even reputed company sometimes end up mixing up vision and mission statements.
Your mission statement is about today. It must answer the following questions:
- What do you do?
- Who are your customers and clients?
- What processes and procedures do you follow?
Providing answers to these questions may seem like a long affair, but it doesn’t have to be. Restrict your mission statement to just 2 sentences and if possible, just a single sentence. But, no matter how many sentences you write, answer the questions listed above.
Here is Google’s mission statement: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Here is Tesla’s: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
You may say that these mission statements don’t answer all the 3 questions above, but if you read them carefully you will notice that, they do.
Take for example Tesla’s mission statement. Sustainable energy means they want to shift the focus away from the current ways of energy consumption. Pretty much everybody consumes energy in the form of fuel, gas and power. So, pretty much everybody is their customer.
What do they want to do? They want to accelerate the process. They want to go beyond simply researching, and provide viable products.
What is Google doing? It is organizing world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful. By merely reading the statement, you can make out what they do, for whom they do it, and how they do it.
Keep the following points in mind when creating your mission statement:
- Keep it as concise as possible.
- Provide answers to questions such as what you do, what are your customers and clients, and how you serve them.
How to write a great vision statement
Your vision statement gives your customers and clients the bigger picture. The give them a peek into your future.
What do you stand for? How do you plan to grow? What impact do you want to make?
This tells them about your work culture. It tells them what moves you and what keeps you going.
This was Microsoft’s vision when it was founded: A computer on every desk and in every home.
It is amazing how this vision came to be true. This was written when computers were a rarity.
LinkedIn vision statement: Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.
As is clear from these statements, the vision statement is about your overall goal. This is what you eventually want to achieve. When you are writing your vision statement, talk about the next 5 years.
Something like, if you are writing your vision statement in 2020, tell your visitors what you are going to achieve by 2025.
Again, keep it as concise as possible.