"People I work with are open to leadership that has a vision, but this vision has to be communicated clearly and persuasively, and always, always with passion."
Anita Roddick, Body Shop founder.
When writing a business plan for your company, you'll often notice that business plan templates or experts suggest you include a vision statement, a mission statement, and objectives. What are the differences between these three elements? It might sound unimportant to you right now but how do you know where you are going if you don’t have a clear plan or vision?
Vision Statement: The vision statement is often confused with the mission statement. Some people use the two terms interchangeably. The vision statement is actually about what the business's future will look like if the mission is achieved.
To give you an example, this is Bartercard’s vision statement – “to be the leading global marketplace where businesses connect and barter-trade their goods and services.”
This is a great example as it creates a vision of what success looks like. Consider these factors when writing your Vision Statement:
- A Vision statement should outline where you want to be
- It communicates both the purpose and values of your business
- It answers the question, “Why are we here?”
- A vision statement talks about your future
- It lists where you see yourself some years from now. It inspires you to give your best. It shapes your understanding of why you are in business
- Your vision should remain intact, even if the market changes dramatically, because it speaks to what you represent, not just what you do.
So, let's move to your Mission Statement...
The Mission Statement Definition: A mission statement is a statement that defines the essence or purpose of a company -markets and competitive advantages; a short written statement of your business goals and philosophies.
To keep with our Bartercard example....Bartercard’s mission is “to enhance the lives of members around the world by creating value and opportunity from the unrealised potential in their business”
A mission statement defines what an organisation is, why it exists and it should identify the products and services you produce. It announces to the world at large why your company exists.
If you don't have a mission statement I always recommend that it is done in consultation with your staff. Their input is invaluable for their ideas and it ensures that they believe it. This will translate into how they do their jobs and interact with your clients?
Good ways to start is by writing down, in one sentence, what the purpose of your business is and have a brainstorming session with your staff. Then discuss the statements and come up with one sentence everyone agrees with. It is more important to communicate the mission statement to your employees than to your customers. Your mission statement doesn't have to be clever or catchy--just accurate.
Once you have a mission statement it is a good idea to periodically review and possibly revise it to make sure it accurately reflects changes as your business evolves.
Don’t keep any changes you make to yourself make sure you share them with your staff.
There are many views on whether a Mission Statement is relevant in a business or not. I believe that a well thought out mission statement is useful for engaging your staff and customers alike.
Objectives: Objectives must be concrete and measurable, never vague. Use bullet points and write down a few important objectives, such as sales targets for the first year, margins you need to make, when the next version of your product will be released, or how many customers per day you need. If you can't measure later whether or not you've achieved an objective, then it shouldn't be there!
When establishing the objectives, try to involve everyone who will have the responsibility of achieving those objectives after you lay them out.
Well-chosen objectives and a clear vision point a new business plan in the right direction and keep an established company on the right track.
Your vision establishes where you intend to go and tells you when you get there. Objectives are the specific steps you and your company need to take in order to reach each of your goals. They specify what you must do — and when.
Your vision can increase your effectiveness; objectives back your goals and make you more efficient.
Your vision is typically described in words; objectives often come with numbers and specific dates.
Together, your vision, mission and the objectives form the road map for your company’s future. Without them, you risk making wrong turns and wasting precious energy.
Get started on setting the vision, mission and objectives for your company and refer to them constantly as they are the road map of your journey to success.
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