If you’ve stumbled upon this article, then it looks like you’re in the midst of writing a business plan. We commend you for taking on this big project and putting in the necessary research to make it the best it can be!
As you might already know, your business plan is the foundation of your business, and the stronger and more thorough it is, the higher the odds are that your business will find success.
So today, in order to help you and your business reach the success you crave, we’re going to zone in on one of the most important aspects of your business plan (and business in general): your vision statement. Not to be confused with your mission statement, a vision statement is your business’ big “goal.” What one ambition inspires your company to move forward each day? What one thing would you like your company to achieve, even if it seems like a faraway aspiration at this moment?
Need some help figuring it out? No worries, we’ll discuss all of that, and more, below!
What is a business vision statement and why do you need one?
Similarly yet differently to a mission statement, a vision statement is yet another clear, succinct, and inspiring section of your business plan. And while we went over the specifics of how to write a successful mission statement here and how to write a business plan here, today let’s focus on vision statements and vision statements alone.
Whereas your mission statement defined your business and its core values, your vision statement focus should be on the future of your business. What goals does your business have and how do you plan on reaching them? They are the long-term outcomes that your company will reach after some successful years in business; and the goal your business is always reaching toward, each and every day.
Perhaps Jamie Falkowski, managing director at Day One Agency, said it best when he went on record saying, “A vision is aspiration. A mission is actionable.”
So now that you know what a vision statement is…why do you need one? Well studies show that employees are 18% more likely to be more productive and engaged in their work if they identify with your company’s vision statement. But, even more than that, vision statements can also stick with the consumer and inspire more business… But we’ll get into the more in the next section.
Examples of Great Vision Statements
“We create happiness.” Short, simple, clear…and maybe from those three words you can even figure out what company’s vision statement this is?
If you guessed Disney, you got it right! Obviously Disney is one of the biggest brands globally, so of course they’re a great brand to analyze in terms of what it takes to be successful. And writing a great vision statement is no different. From three simple words you feel inspired, and employees understand what should be their driving force behind every action they take each and every day.
Now, let’s take a look at Instagram’s vision statement: “We capture and share the world’s moments.” Another specific, yet broad and inspiring statement. From this sentence you understand exactly what Instagram does. Unlike a mission statement, a vision statement doesn’t have to specify exactly how you are going to achieve this, but rather encourage people to look forward to the future and feel inspired to continue to fulfill this vision each day.
The 5 Steps for Writing a Successful Vision Statement for Your Business Plan
1) Survey your employees
Arguably, one of the most important reasons for you to write a great vision statement is to inspire employees. As we stated before, employees who align with their company’s vision statement are more likely to work at their fullest potential and maintain a positive attitude.
Therefore, if your vision statement is such a big part of recruiting and retaining employees, then why not ask them for their opinion on the topic? Where do they see the company in 5 years? 10 years? What do they believe your company’s big “why” is? In the words of Keri Lindenmuth, a marketing manager at the Kyle David Group: “If your employees don’t buy into the vision, you’ll never be able to carry it out.”
So, depending on the size of your company, have a brainstorming vision statement meeting. Take them out to coffee. Send out a survey via email. Whatever you have to do to get their opinion on why your company does what it does, and what they’re striving for every day, do it. Because if your employees are on board with your vision statement, then odds are they’ll happily stay at your company for the long haul.
2) Research the vision statements of your competitors
Of course you’re trying to stand out against competitors, but how can you stand out if you don’t fully understand them first? Read their vision statements, especially if you have a competitor that you’d like to replicate the success of. What does their vision statement include? What parts of their vision statement feel right for your business? What parts of their vision statement definitely don’t fit in with your company’s long-term goals?
Defining what you want…and what you don’t want…is a crucial jumping off point for any creative endeavor. And studying other company’s vision statements will help you better understand all the different ways a completed vision statement might look, feel, and sound.
3) Chart your business’ goals
This step is another great time to include your employees. Invite them to your conference room and ask them what they believe your company wants to accomplish. Throw out questions like, “what impact do we want our business to have on our customers and the world?” and “What is the culture of our company?”
You might even consider making a business “vision board” in order to make your goals clearer and more tangible.
Again, there’s no “right” or “wrong” answer about what your business’ goals are, but the more people who are on the same page about it, the more confident you can feel that your vision statement will be sending out the right message to future employees and consumers.
So, make a timeline. See the commonalities of where your business wants to be in 2 years, 5 years, and 10 years. And create an inspirational statement out of it.
4) Connect your present business to your future business
Independently or in a group setting, ask: Because your business exists, how will the world be different? Remember, your vision statement is your most ideal dream for this business. If there were no red tape, no adversity, and nothing to get in your way, what would your “perfect world” business look like and be able to achieve?
Your vision statement shouldn’t be something that can be achieved tomorrow, it’s a large goal to continually aspire to everyday. For example, Microsoft’s original vision statement was: “A computer on every desk and in every home.” Of course Bill Gates and the team didn’t expect that in 1975 this goal would be achieved in their first month or even their first year in business. But with lots of persistence this lofty goal could (and would) be achieved.
5) Update your vision regularly until one feels right
Just like your mission statement, don’t feel married to your vision statement, especially in your first months of business. It’s ok if your business needs some time to find its way. Each month as you start your business, look at your vision statement again and see if it still resonates with you or if your business goals have shifted. Although you do want to eventually settle on just one vision statement for the long term, if it takes six months or so to get there, don’t sweat it. Be patient and understanding as your company finds its way and identity.
Additionally, note that your vision statement can change eventually if you feel your goal has been reached. For example, in 2013 Microsoft changed their statement from their original one (above) to:
Microsoft is a technology company whose mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. We strive to create local opportunity, growth, and impact in every country around the world.
Notice how they moved from something tangible- a computer on every desk- to something more abstract yet still inspiring: “empower[ing] every person…to achieve more.”
Additionally, once you’ve settled on your vision statement, post it in staff areas and use it as a template during performance reviews. Early Microsoft employees note that their company was so successful because every single employee knew their vision statement and believed in it collectively.
Writing a vision statement might not be the easiest thing, but you’re not alone. Ask employees for their input to craft something clear, concise, aspirational, and inspiring.
And remember, a team with one unified vision is so much stronger than just one person. So, what are you doing to ensure your vision statement is being shared and lived out within your entire company? Only you can answer that, but trust that you have the ability to make it happen!