Do you know the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement? The two terms may seem similar, but each plays a different role in shaping a small business and its purpose.
The simplest way to differentiate a mission statement and vision statement is to view it using timelines and purposes being served within these timelines. Mission statements take place right now. These statements detail the purpose for a business that is currently in existence. Vision statements look to the future. They set aspirations for what the ideal business hopes, and plans, to achieve.
Now that we have a better understanding of the difference between a mission statement and vision statement, let’s look at what it means for a small business to draft each statement.
What’s in a Mission Statement?
Writing a mission statement can sometimes be a tricky task. A mission statement should be able to clearly state the purpose and values of an organization.
Shareholders, who include customers, employees, and owners, should be able to read a mission statement and understand what the business does and the actionable steps the company will take to make good on its practices. This information should be relayed using one more than one sentence. Hence the reason for why it can seem difficult to write a mission statement!
Break down a mission statement gradually using these writing tips.
Sir Isaac Newton is famously quoted for saying, “A body at motion stays in motion; a body at rest stays at rest.”
What are you setting out to do? A mission statement requires movement. The statement should read as active. It describes how a business is working to steadily accomplish its goals. This same statement should inspire a call to action (CTA) among readers.
Start creating an active mission statement by utilizing the use of radiant words. These are colorful, lively words. Think words like “accelerate,” “marvel,” “socially conscious,” and “revolutionary.”
Radiant words allow readers to visualize the business and its offerings. As a result, shareholders may also better understand how they may work together to help the business achieve its purpose.
Consider Core Values
Most businesses want to create a unique and interesting mission statement. However, mission statements must toe a careful line to avoid sounding too lofty or lacking inclusive language.
Ground yourself by thinking about your core values. Who are you? What do you offer or provide audiences? Why is your business in existence? As you start to answer these questions, you will be able to uncover certain core values that allow your brand to genuinely connect to its customers. These are the principles that act as your North Star. Core values help guide your business forward in reaching its purpose. Include one or two of these physical and/or emotional values in a mission statement.
Establish Reasonable Accomplishments
Mission statements currently live in the moment. As such, these statements must exist within a realm of plausibility.
What kinds of reasonable accomplishments can your business achieve? Use your mission statement to establish and plan for how your business will reach these goals within reason.
What’s in a Vision Statement?
Vision statements look toward the future. Drafting a vision statement often means envisioning an ideal world and the significant place a business carves out in it.
In drafting a vision statement, prepare to answer the following questions:
- How does your business view its existing future?
- How does your business view the future of its industry?
- What kind of place does the business believe it has in the world?
- What does the ideal version of this business look like?
- How can the business continue to reach its goals and meet shareholders’ needs in the future?
Do Small Businesses Need Mission and Vision Statements?
Now that you have a greater understanding of what it means to draft a mission and vision statement, does your small business require both statements?
Ultimately the decision to create either, or both, statements will depend on how the business chooses to represent itself to shareholders. Some businesses may decide to think specifically in the moment and draft a mission statement accordingly. Others may look to the future and write up a vision statement for that ideal world. However you determine looking ahead, there is time to draft these statements, share them, and live out their mission and values.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.