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What are vision and mission statements, and why do I need them?

Imagine getting up in the morning without a care in the world. You shower, brush your teeth, get dressed, and walk out the door. You look around, wondering should you get in the car? Ride a bus or train? Or take a stroll. You have a vague idea of what you want to accomplish that day. Perhaps make a bit of money. Maybe take a selfie because you’re feeling cute, then delete later. You don’t know where you’re going, but figure you’re dressed up might as well do something. You might even be wondering where I’m going with this paragraph. It’s so boring that there’s no point in reading it or even writing it.

That’s precisely what doing business is like without knowing the vision and mission of your business. Your focus will drift and wander off and never hit the mark of the goals you want to achieve. 

“But I’m a small business,” you might say. “Why do I even need them when I’m just starting and have no employees? This is just my side hustle, and I’m happy to make decent enough money to supplement my family’s income.” 

That’s great if that’s all you want for your business. However, if you’re going to grow your business, you need a roadmap for how to get there. Enter the vision and mission of your business. But what even is the difference between vision and mission? 

Vision vs. Mission

In short, vision is about the future – where you want to get to. Mission is about the now – what you will do now to get to the future goal.

It’s easy to get the two confused, but they are very different. A good equation that can help is this:

A (mission) –> B (vision)

= A is your mission, and B is your vision. 

= A is what you will do to achieve your vision (B).

In the context of doing business, it looks like this: 

B (vision) is the problem you’re trying to solve for your customers, and A (mission) is what you’ll do to solve it.

Why vision and mission statements are important

Having a vision and mission is essential. There are benefits for you, your customer, and (when your business grows enough) your employees. 

1. The benefit of vision and mission statement to you

The benefit for you is that it gives you a roadmap for your business. It focuses your energies on where to drive your business. When you’re setting out for a destination, you won’t go without a map. You can, of course, wing it, but there’ll be many detours along the way, wasted petrol, money, and time. It’s the same with business. When you’re starting a business, you won’t go without a business roadmap. If you go without your roadmap, you’ll waste energy, time, and money in trying to get to your destination. 

2. The benefit of vision and mission statements to your customer

The benefit for your customer is that it gives your business focus and coherence, mainly when communicating to your prospective clients what your business is about, what you stand for, and how you align with their values. Customers tend to buy from companies they trust, and nothing builds trust faster than someone they “connect” with.

“But why would I want to limit myself only to those customers who have the same values as you, me?” you might ask. “Isn’t it better to appeal to everyone so I can sell more?” 

Not necessarily. When customers connect with your values as a business, they’ll stay loyal to you. And when they’re dedicated to you, they’ll start promoting you to everyone they know. 

Achieving this type of connection is not easy. But having a vision and mission statement to guide you is an excellent start, so it’s worth sitting down and nutting out what your business stands for.

3. The benefit of vision and mission statements to your employees (if you have them)

Employees are your customers, too; they are your brand ambassadors. A mission and vision statement will attract the right employee who has the same goals and values as you. It helps you form a connection with your potential employee. Connection leads to trust, and trust leads to loyalty. When you have a loyal employee, they’ll promote you to everyone they know.

Vision and Mission statement examples

When formulating the vision and mission statements for your business, ask yourself, what is your customer’s problem (this will become your vision) and how you will solve it (your mission).

Some examples:

• Feeding orphans (A) for a world without poverty (B).

• Saving the oceans (B) one eco-friendly straw at a time (A).

Of course, it doesn’t have to be grandiose and necessarily world-changing; it can be simple and “every day” such as.

• Improve workplace productivity (B) with uncomplicated spreadsheets (A).

Your vision and mission statements should not be vague but clear, simple, and easy to understand. Also, they should be distinct from one another. If it’s too abstract (too airy-fairy), it won’t resonate with anyone nor inspire your customers. So the clearer and more straightforward it is, the better. 

Yes, that’s a tall order, but I believe it’s essential to get right if you want to get the right customers and get your marketing right. 

Make it specific

When formulating your vision and mission statements, it’s essential to make them super-specific. Ideally, it should appeal to a particular customer. Don’t try to appeal to everyone. There is a mantra in marketing that I like to repeat: 

If you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one. 

This is because trying to appeal to everyone will make your statements too vague and too general, and it just becomes boring. Good vision and mission statements should appeal to one group and turn off another. There’s no way to please everyone; that’s a fact of life. And it’s better that way. 

Find your tribe, and they’ll stay loyal to you and give you repeat business.

Allow room for growth

Your vision and mission statements don’t need to be the same forever. They should not be static. As your business grows and evolves, so too will your vision and mission statements. 

The connection with Purpose

You may have also heard about the business purpose. A business purpose is a statement of why you’re in business, which is as important as the vision and mission statements. You can read more about business purposes here.

The key take-away

Having a business vision and mission is essential in helping your business grow by giving you the roadmap to achieve your goals. It enables you to refine your product and service offering by identifying your customers and tailoring your marketing and business messaging to target your customers.

Contact me if you need help creating marketing materials to grow your business.