What’s the difference between a business vision and mission statement?

How to write a good mission and vision statement, what’s the difference between them and why you MUST have them to be successful in business.

Many of my clients get confused about the differences between a Vision, Values and a Mission Statement so today’s blog puts my spin on this discussion. However, first, I want to emphasise the importance of these statements for your business. They form the ‘context’ of what your business is all about. 

Each morning, when I’m driving to a meeting or starting work I recite my mission statement to myself:

‘To empower, enrich and inspire people’s lives. To help my clients accelerate their business success’

It helps me set my mind for the day and focus on what’s truly important – the people I serve as a coach and what I want to give.

For many companies, their mission statements are hidden on their ‘About’ pages or loitering on a strategy document and the day-to-day work bears no resemblance to the contents of it. Their teams lack a ‘sense of purpose’.

You and your team need to connect with ‘why you are in that business’ every day. You need to think about what the customer wants every day (what’s in it for them?) and be focused on activities that serve them better than your competition. Your team need to be engaged with the mission statement, it will give them a sense of purpose and motivation. The mission statement needs to be prominent and on display in your premises.

You also need to know ‘What’s in it for you?’: This is your business vision statement. Your team also needs to complete their own Vision, Goals and Values so that they know ‘What’s in it for them” from working hard, implementing the business mission statement and achieving the business vision. When you or your team asks the question ‘Why am I working so hard?’, they must know the answer.

So, we know it’s important, but how do we compose these all-important statements so they are meaningful, inspiring and keep us heading in the right direction?

I ask all my clients to firstly complete my ‘Values & Goals Workbook’ which helps them get clear on their ‘why’, what they want out of their lives and starts to distil down what’s important for them in the business. You can download this document here and I encourage you to go right back to this basic, raw level before trying to write or review your statements. At the end of the workbook, we use all of your answers to start formulating your mission and vision statements.

Here is my basic division between the two types of statements:

Your vision statement is…

  • A target – where you and your business wants to be in 2-5 years e.g. How big? How many customers? What market share? How much income and profit? It enables you to start with the end in mind or else you may be going off course and not realising it. It also has an end time so you need to reset the vision before targets are reached so that you know the next target.
  • About what YOU want from the business, it’s not for public display because it’s a statement that defines ‘What’s in it for you?’. Your team must understand and know what target the business is going for. They don’t need to know financial targets but market share or the size of customer numbers are great targets to go for.
  • A statement that you refer your business decision making to i.e. Does this opportunity help us achieve our vision. This brings greater speed and clarity to your decision making

Examples vision statements:

  • To be in the Top 5 in our real estate group (36 in total) by December 2019
  • To achieve 25% makret share within our industry by July 2020
  • To increase our repeat and referral customers from 40% to 60% of our total sales by December 2020
  • To open three more branches in the Victoria metropolitan area by January 2021
  • To achieve $2,500,000 gross profit by January 2021

Your mission statement is…

  • Not a target but a description of what you want to ‘give’ to customers (What’s in it for them?)
  • Has no end time as it is the process and service that must be practised by you and your team every day to achieve the vision
  • The ‘purpose’ of the business
  • Motivational – what we do, who we serve, how do we serve them

Example mission statements:

  • “My mission is to collect all the world’s information and make it accessible to everyone” Eric Schmidt, Google
  • “My mission is to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world” Phil Knight, Founder, Nike
  • “To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be” Oprah Winfrey, Founder of the Oprah Winfrey Network
  • “My mission in life is to make people happy” Walt Disney, Founder of The Walt Disney Company
  • “To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical princeiples to make a significant difference” Denise Morrison, CEO, Campbell Soup Company

Do I really need a Mission Statement AND a vision statement?

Yes absolutely! Without these defining statements you will not establish the vital business success foundation for your business. Your vision is something you look at regularly and use as a decision-making tool. Your mission statement is somethign you and your team review at the start of every workday to make sure you are in the right mindset and focused on the best quality service to your customers. This all leads to the life blood of every consistently successful business – repeat and referral customers!

You can learn more about the systems and strategies to achieve great repeat and referral customers through my online coaching and training in sales and leadership.

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