Many business owners put off writing a mission statement. Who has time to write down why you are in business when you are busy trying to run one! And perhaps even fewer owners have created a vision statement — possibly because they are not sure what the term even means.
There are good reasons for creating both. Lenders, investors, and job candidates appreciate strong, clear mission statements, and vision statements can give interested parties a clear idea of where a business is heading. In addition, you and your staff may benefit from the focus and direction that comes from articulating your mission and vision.
Describe your purpose
What exactly is a mission statement? Its purpose is to express to the world why you are in business, what you are offering, and whom you are looking to serve. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor has this as its mission statement:
To foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
Forget flowery language and industry jargon. Write in clear, simple, honest terms. Keep the statement brief, a paragraph at most. Answer questions that any interested party would want to know, such as:
- Why did your company go into business?
- What makes your products or services worth buying?
- Who is your target market?
Presumably, you know the answers to these questions. But putting them down on paper may help renew your commitment to your original or actual mission, or it also may reveal some areas where you have gotten off track. For example, if your target demographic is Millennials, have you maintained that focus or wandered off course a bit?
Proclaim your ambition
So, a mission statement essentially explains why you are here, what you do, and who you are looking to serve. What does a vision statement do? It tells interested parties where you are headed and what you ultimately want to accomplish.
A vision statement should be even more brief than your mission statement. Think of a tag line for a movie or even an advertising slogan. You want to deliver a memorable quote that will get the attention of readers and reinforce that you are not looking to make a quick buck. Rather, you are moving forward into the future while providing the highest quality products or services in the here and now. For instance, the trademarked vision statement of the Alzheimer’s Association is simple and aims high: “A world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.”
Should you bring your operations to a screeching halt so everyone can work on a mission and vision statement? Certainly not. But if you have not created either, or have not updated them in a while, it is a worthwhile strategic planning task to put together the language and see what insights come of it. We would be happy to review your statements and help you tie them to sound budgeting and financial planning.