What is a vision statement, and what is it used for?
A company vision statement spells out what a business aspires to achieve. Because it articulates how the company will make a difference in the world, it provides company leaders, employees, customers, and investors with a clear understanding—and ongoing reminder—of what a company stands for and where it’s ultimately headed.
A well-crafted vision statement has multiple benefits. It aligns your company’s ongoing decision making because it keeps employees focused on a common objective. It helps with attracting and keeping the best workers, since more than 2 in 3 employees place a high priority on doing work that aligns with their interests. It can also motivate customers (and for bigger companies, investors) who are inspired by your company’s mission and business practices.
In short, your company vision statement will help you:
- Inspire your team and focus their efforts
- Acquire and keep customers
- Plan more effectively
- Attract and retain top talent
- Improve decision making
Examples of strong vision statements
Your vision statement will be unique to your company, but it may be helpful to see how well-known companies express their vision for the future.
Tesla: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” (Accelerate. Nice touch, Tesla.) This vision statement works overtime by setting the company up to explore other energy solutions beyond automotive, such as solar and battery power.
TED: “We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.” Note that this vision statement doesn’t start with “to.” Instead, TED (which stands for technology, education, and design) is setting out the motivation behind its mission to spread ideas through its events and webcasts.
Oxfam: “A world without poverty.” This nonprofit aims high. But, it also inspires. This extremely concise vision statement is a clear north star for the organization’s mission to erase poverty and create lasting solutions.
Zappos: “Delivering happiness to customers, employees, and vendors.” Anyone who’s shopped at Zappos knows that the company goes above and beyond to give customers a positive and memorable shopping experience. The online-only retailer gets extra stars for working in the word “delivering.”
IKEA: “To create a better everyday life for many people.” This statement inspires while supporting the company’s overarching mission: to provide well-designed, functional home furnishings to the masses.
How to write a vision statement
When you sit down to craft your vision statement, focus on what success will look like for your company.
You can start by answering these questions:
- What fundamental problem does your business want to solve?
- Why does that problem need to be addressed?
- Does this problem matter to other people too?
- If you achieve all your goals, what will be different about your community or the world?
- Who do you seek to serve? (Note that for some entities, it’s the entire world; for others, it’s a specific audience or group.)
- What does your company want to see more or less of in the world?
- What legacy does your company want to leave behind?
Focus and clarity bring vision statements to life. Use these best practices to devise and refine your company’s vision statement:
- Study examples of strong vision statements to get familiar with their length, language, and tone. You can start with the ones above.
- Focus your statement on a single, primary goal. Ideally, that goal will be something you can measure your progress against. For example, a software firm might focus on changing the way something is done, and a health food restaurant might focus on improving the world’s nutrition.
- Get feedback. Ask your most-trusted employees and business partners about what motivates them to do their work. Make note of the words they use—you may want to include them in your vision statement. Setting up a formal brainstorming session can also be helpful to give everyone a chance to talk about ideas in depth.
- Keep your vision statement short so it’s easy to remember and repeat. Use clear, concise language, and leave out industry terms and jargon so anyone who reads it can understand it quickly.
- Stay focused on the future to set your vision statement apart from your mission statement. It may help to review your mission statement as part of your process, or if your company doesn’t yet have a mission statement, to develop your mission and vision statements in tandem.
- Choose words that inspire but also convey your intent. It’s okay to sound aspirational. You want to build a vision that’s challenging, but achievable.
- Capture the ultimate goal that drives your company to do what it does, rather than what you do or how you do it. Don’t set specific goals such as dollars, percentages, or timeframes; the vision statement is an aspiration, not a directive.
Using your vision statement
Once your vision statement is complete put it to work for your business by:
- Sharing it with employees to give them purpose and focus
- Articulating it in ongoing hiring, selling, and partnering
- Referring to it in decision making
- Reviewing and updating it periodically to make sure it stays on track with your business evolution
Create a vision statement to shape your future
Now is the time to craft a strong vision statement to unite your team’s efforts behind the work that really matters. Start the process today and shape what your business will be tomorrow and beyond.