What is a Vision Statement and Why It Matters
Think of your Vision Statement as a picture of your company at some point in the future – maybe 2, 3 or 5 years. A vision is a way to articulate your dreams and hopes for your business while quantifying the expected results with a realistic “on or before date”. It reminds us of what we are building. To create a vision takes some time and serious thought. This statement will not tell you how you will get there but it will set the direction for your business strategy or plan. Also knowing your Mission or Core Values will be very helpful.
Let your imagination go and dream big – you want to capture your passion. Unlike the Mission Statement, the Vision statement will have a huge influence on decision making and is not instructional for your clients or customers. Since a Vision is off in the future, having a date when it will be achieved will be more dynamic than just “three years from now” as now is an ever changing destination.
Examples of Bad Vision Statements
- In three years our company will have cornered the local market on pizza and be the go to pizza delivery service while making bellies happy.
- It is our vision to continue to authoritatively provide access to diverse services to stay relevant in tomorrow’s world.
- We will be one of the five largest integrated energy companies in the world and the preferred choice among our stakeholders. – Petrobras
- It is our business to enthusiastically leverage others world-class resources so that we may efficiently negotiate prospective paradigms to stay competitive in tomorrow’s world.
Two of these statements are just a mashup of words and jargon that mean nothing or different things to different people. The pizza one actually has a future time frame, but gives no idea as to the local market or size. None of these give direction, inspire staff and indicate uniqueness. One is even so bold as to force their business on the world without recognizing who their customers are. If a vision doesn’t indicate customers, community, viability or timeframe, it won’t provide guidance to the leaders, teams and staff.
Examples of Good Vision Statements
- To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices – Amazon
- Shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, and sharing our resources with the world – Smithsonian
- By 2019, grow Ohio Employee Owned Window Company into a $40 million national home products company specializing in manufacturing and distributing custom and replacement garden windows and skylights to baby-boomers and home remodelers.
- By 2015, Hungry Human Restaurant will grow be profitable and a successful, local culinary teaching restaurant providing quality service and successful hands on education to prepare students and teaching assistants to achieve success in their future employment.
We like these vision statements because they focus on building value based companies. Take for example Amazon, their vision gives guidance but isn’t overbearing and forcing their business upon the customer. The Smithsonian states exactly what they do for the American people, they are persevering our heritage. The window company is very clear about their customers and a the teaching restaurant is aware that to provide it’s culinary mission, it must be profitable.
A Starting Point
Let’s try creating a slightly boring but solid vision statement. You can spice it up later, you just need someplace to start for right now.
The way to start is to first do this simple fill in the blank exercise:
By (Date in Future) ____________________________ grow/sustain/move
(Name of your company)_________________________ into a successful
(Gross Revenue) $______________________________
(Location – Regional, National, International)______________________________
(Type of business) _____________________________ providing
(Description of Service and/or Product)_________________________ to
(Key Customers) _____________________________________ with
(Key Demographics of Key Customers)____________________________.
While you do this first draft, it will feel clunky and stiff but you will have grabbed the essential information you want. For the second draft, try to envision how you can rewrite this with the excitement of where you want this business to be. If you as the creator, are not excited, then how will you get your staff and team to be excited. Part of drafting a vision is to get excited about your business’s future.
Sample First Draft
Here is a sample first draft:
By (Date in Future) 2020 grow/sustain/move
(Name of your company) Flowers for All into a successful
(Gross Revenue) $1,000,000
(Location – Regional, National, International) My Metro Community
(Type of business) Flower Gardening Retail and Service Landscaper providing
(Description of Service and/or Product) Patio and Container Gardens to
(Key Customers) Busy Professional Women and Traveling Retirees with
(Key Demographics of Key Customers) owning homes and/or condominiums.
Second draft is where we make it more fluid:
Flowers For All is a flourishing planting and landscaping business in Northwest Ohio that specializes in Patio and Container gardens that are beautiful, enchanting, and/or edible (vegetable and herbs). In our quest to reach $1 million in revenue by 2020, we are targeting professional women and traveling retirees with more income than time desiring the beauty of well maintained gardens without the work.
That is a vision statement that will help staff understand what the business is striving to achieve. Also, the vision is something that is internal and not needed to share with the public at large although many companies do.
How to Create Your Vision Statement
- Create a basic draft. Crafting the vision statement requires short and simple structure like a declarative sentence.
- Ask Yourself, is this a vision statement I can be excited about and achieve?
- Get support and Feedback from key employees, managers, partners, advisors, and key stakeholders.
- Refine Your Vision Statement.
- Repeat steps 3 & 4 as needed.
- Celebrate and roll out the Vision Statement. Post where people will see them and can be reminded.
- Integrate your vision statement into everything. From hiring to firing; from customer service to vendor interactions. Make your vision live in the company.
A business’s vision statement should get everyone in the company excited about where the company is going. Deciding where a company will be in five years will help decide year to year what the company will do to get there. Some companies will revise their Vision yearly to reflect changes in direction or economy while others will find that it remains constant. Your company’s vision will be a driving force for moving your company forward.