Many entrepreneurs and experts seem to mistakenly believe that a vision statement and a mission statement are interchangeable. They are not.
A mission statement summarises the goals and values of your company, whereas a vision statement is a snapshot of your company a year or a decade from now; it is an inspiration - targeted more at employees than at customers - that will guide your strategic planning. It's not a blueprint or a roadmap to your company's future; it is a dream of a future based on all the work you do and the successes and failures you endure. To put it succinctly: it's where you want to go, rather than how you will get there.
If that sounds impractical or unimportant, it isn't. It is vital to adopt a vision statement because it guides your business planning and strategy. Articulating, installing and sharing a company vision is a crucial characteristic of influential business leaders, while a good statement will form the inspiration behind all your marketing campaigns and advertising messages. It's a compass, too; as your company grows, you can circle back to your idea and determine if you are still aspiring for the realisation of your vision from your company's early days.
If you still need further proof, the following seven points illustrate the importance of a vision statement.
1. It Aids Decision Making
As a business owner, here is a question that you should ask regularly: do your employees – high-level to entry-level – use your original concept as a guide for decision-making? Whether it is an operational decision or a strategic one, your vision should be the go-to source for driving critical business choices.
If nobody in the company – yourself included – is referring to your original vision, and everyone is putting forward resolutions for the immediate benefit, then this is the beginnings of a company that is losing sight of its perspective.
Remember, no matter how inconsequential a decision may be, every measure should assist the business in obtaining its vision.
2. It Helps Attract and Motivate Talent
In the modern job market, young professionals are no longer guided by just earnings potential; social responsibility, professional growth and a meaningful role are all driving factors that business owners and hiring managers have to consider.
Within this context, how then can you attract the right people and, more importantly, keep them? The answer is motivation, and one of the best ways to motivate employees is by getting them to invest in your vision, which should be as inspiring to them as it is to you and your investors.
A great vision statement makes this process a lot easier, allowing candidates and employees to identify immediately that your goals and your vision align with theirs.
3. It Helps to Maintain Focus
In business, there will always be something to test your resolve. From a sudden drop in market share to a decline in profit margins, things will inevitably happen that will make you second guess your decisions.
This is where your vision statement is important.
By referring to it, you can prevent the ship from veering off course and heading in an entirely different direction, thereby preserving your corporate values and remaining loyal to existing clients who have chosen your brand over others in the same niche. When times get tough, it is about weathering the storm clouds and ensuring that you don't compromise your original vision or principles.
4. It Creates a Legacy
If you have ambitions of creating a stable, lasting organisation, then a strong company vision statement is integral to this.
You might only be a humble startup right now, comprised perhaps of a handful of employees specialising in accounting, marketing or corporate outreach. Eventually, however, your startup will transform into an industry juggernaut that has multiple head offices, a global workforce and a three comma valuation.
Of course, whether you hit such heights or not, the fact remains: the vision of the business should be designed to outlast you, regardless of if you decide to sell or circumstances dictate that you step aside. That can only happen if everyone is on board with the original vision of the company.
5. It Prioritises Your Resources
Unless you somehow possess an infinite capital stream, your business is likely to be operating on limited resources, especially at first. While the likes of Amazon or Apple can spend $50m on an ad campaign or invest $30m into developing new technologies, most companies do not possess such a budget.
Was this necessarily your vision in the first place, though? To depend on infinite resources to advance your corporate objectives? Hardly.
By referencing your vision statement, you can instead begin to prioritise your limited resources and tap into what made you successful in the first place. With that vision in mind, ask yourself:
- How can you maximise the technology you have now?
- How can your employees utilise tools at their disposal?
- How can you solve issues affecting the firm with current resources?
Remember: most successful ventures did not get to where they are today by visualising throwing money at a problem.
6. It Helps Define Your Company Culture
Employee morale is a significant workplace issue, leading to haemorrhaging productivity levels and low job satisfaction across the developed globe. There are several reasons to understand why turnover rates are climbing, but one way to assess the situation is to put a spotlight on your internal company culture.
The traditional office, with employees chained to cubicles, living on coffee and hating their jobs, is grossly outdated. However, there's more to building a positive workplace culture than simply installing a foosball table and throwing out free gym memberships. Instead, you need to look at how faithful you are being to your original vision statement and ask yourself:
- Are my employees excited to come into work?
- Do they share the same goals as me?
- Is the office culture shifting from what it was?
Businesses are indeed experimenting with all different types of workplace landscapes, and this should be encouraged, but if you are abiding by your vision from day one, then the process will be a lot more defined and easier to implement.
7. It Instills Strategic Leadership
Therefore, to fully understand how you will manage your team, you need to look to the founding prescience. Is your company's vision to master the art of customer service? Then perhaps it is a mixture of transformational and democratic. Is the culture to maximise profits by any means necessary? Then maybe the leadership definition is a blend of autocratic and coaching.
Regardless of your goals, management strategies – old or new – always need to consider the vision statement.
As businesses grow, circumstances change, and environments shift, its only natural that they drift away from their original vision. Often, though, this is to a company's detriment rather than its benefit; while, of course, it's necessary to adapt your practices, your products, and, in some cases, even your entire target market, your core vision should never change.
In the meantime, take a look at our definitive breakdown of how to write the perfect vision statement, and ensure that your business isn't overlooking the points listed here.
To illustrate how a vision statement can have positive impact on a brand, be sure to take a look at our breakdown of the best vision statement examples, too.
What do you think? How important is a vision statement? Let us know in the comments below.