Mike takes me on surprise dates occasionally. He’ll put the destination in the GPS and drive. On non-surprise destinations, I help navigate, trying to find the most efficient way. But when I don’t know our destination, I can’t really help.
Most times it works out and we get there smoothly, but there’s the chance that had I known where we were going, I could have helped out and got us there more efficiently. Thankfully, efficiently getting to a destination isn’t the goal of a date, so it’s completely fine if we hit traffic or get a little lost. However, this isn’t the case with your business. You’d like everyone on board to know where you’re going so everyone can play their part in getting the business there, right?
A few months ago, I evaluated a floundering business and noticed that their mission statement was a statement of what service they will deliver accompanied by a generic service values statement, applicable to any business. It wasn’t surprising to me that the business isn’t doing as well as it should be. They don’t know what their collective vision or mission is. You may run your business for a lot of personal reasons (to monetize your art, to make money independently, to serve your community, etc.). But your business should have its own clear vision and mission so that everyone knows where the business is going and what they can do to get it there.
Do you feel like it’s not clear where your business is going or what decisions you should make to get it where you want it to go? It may help to write fresh vision and mission statements to refocus your business and get it on the right road.
For clarity’s sake, I like to think of vision and mission statements as separate entities that partner together.
I like how BusinessDictionary.com defines vision statement: An aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future.
The key word being aspirational - meaning this isn’t something you can necessarily achieve easily or quickly. A vision statement is the big picture change your business wants to work to create in the world. TOMS is a great example of this. The founder, Blake Mycoskie, saw that children in Argentina didn’t have proper shoes in 2006. He started TOMS with a vision to provide kids with shoes.
Which leads us to the next part - the mission statement simply says the methods your business will use to achieve its vision. The One for One idea was TOMS' method of achieving its vision to provide children with shoes.
Simply put: Your business should see something wrong in the world and seek to rectify it - this is your vision statement. What you will do to rectify it is your mission statement.
Here are some points to consider when rewriting your vision and mission statements:
- It’s best to have a non-monetary vision for your company. Yes, you may like to reach $1 million in revenue in 2 years, but that’s not a vision that articulates the actual purpose of your company. Nor is it necessarily motivating for your employees or customers to get behind. We need a bigger purpose than wealth accumulation. Also, monetary visions aren’t specific enough. It could apply to any company - which doesn’t differentiate you from other businesses. If your only vision is for your business to make money, please go back to the drawing board and decide how you’d like to add value to the world instead.
- Your vision and mission statement should align. If you want to do something to improve the world that is articulated in your vision, your mission’s methods shouldn’t involve harming the world in another way in order to accomplish your mission. That would be inconsistent and antithetical - neither of which would be good for your business.
- You may want to rewrite your vision and mission statement by leading a discussion with your employees. Involve them in the process.* The benefits of this could be far more significant than you realize. People naturally feel ownership when they’ve been involved in creating something. Investing time to involve them now would likely benefit your business in the long-run.
- I’ve created a handy worksheet to help you in this process. You can use it for creating the statements on your own or for working through it with your employees. Simply click "Vision and Mission Statement Worksheet" below to download and print!
You want your business’s vision to be clear. You want to change the world. You want to do it with your team and your customers. All it may take is a simple, invigorating meeting to create a clear vision that you can work toward, on mission, together.
*If you’d like more information on how to collaborate with your employees to create a vision and mission statement, I’d love to teach you how! Simply email me by clicking the email button under "Let's Connect" in the sidebar!
Disclaimer: I am not endorsing TOMS - the company has been criticized and could be harming local economies by their giving - this is regularly a concern in areas where aid is received (I've read about it here and here). However, I used TOMS as an example as their model provides a good template to demonstrate a clear mission and vision.