A vision statement is a brief description of a company’s long-term goals. Vision statements tend to be highly aspirational, serving to guide decision-making, unify and motivate employees, and even inspire customers. Vision statements (focused on the future) are often paired with mission statements (focused on the present) and value statements (the behaviors a company encourages in order to reach its goals) to help guide company planning.
Your vision statement is an important part of creating a business plan. Setting clear goals helps you shape your business plan based on what you want to achieve. Your vision statement is essentially a statement of these goals, including a time frame for when you want to achieve those goals.
Continue reading this article to learn more about creating a vision statement and setting goals, including what vision statements are and why they’re a vital part of your business.
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
What is the difference between a vision statement and a mission statement?
The difference between a vision statement vs mission statement is the period of time they deal with. A mission statement typically deals with the present, while a vision statement focuses on your goals over a set period of time.
Part of learning how to write a vision statement is determining the right time period for your goals. For example, you could write a vision statement that covers the next 5 years, 10 years, or even longer depending on your goals and your business.
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?
Once you have a clear answer for all the above questions, then you can start actually writing your vision statement.
Vision statement best practices
Understanding the basics is crucial when it comes to writing your vision statement. A quick look at vision statement examples will show you that there are a handful of clear best practices that businesses follow.
Focus and clarity bring vision statements to life. Use these best practices to devise and refine your company’s vision statement:
Look at past examples
Study examples of strong vision statements to get familiar with their length, language, and tone. You can start with the ones above. When you’re looking at vision statement examples, remember that every vision statement is different based on the business writing it and their individual goals.
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. By setting one clear goal that you can work toward, you can keep your vision statement concise and focused.
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 session for brainstorming ideas can also be helpful to give everyone a chance to talk about ideas in depth.
Keep your vision statement short
Keeping your vision statement short ensures 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. You’re not writing a novel—the goal here is to create a clear vision statement that anyone can understand.
Stay focused on the future
A focus on the future is what sets 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. Either way, your vision statement should have a clear focus on the future of your business.
Choose words that inspire
Your vision statement should inspire in addition to being clear about your intent. It’s okay to sound aspirational. You want to build a vision that’s challenging, but achievable. Take your time to choose words that get people inspired about your business.
Capture your company’s goal
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. You want to be somewhat vague about the specifics of your goal, but you should still have a clear goal in mind.
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. A strong vision statement can help establish your business and its goals, that way you have something to work toward over a 5 or 10-year period.
If you need a little help getting your business off the ground, Mailchimp is here for you. Mailchimp offers a suite of email marketing and marketing automation tools, so you can get the most bang for your buck and optimize your marketing campaigns. Plus, Mailchimp can help you create a website, optimize for SEO, and more. If you’re just launching your business, create an account and try Mailchimp today.