Have you tried to create a vision statement for your empire? If so, you probably sat there, staring at a blank screen, a cursor blinking accusingly, before you decide maybe you don’t need one anyway.
You are told that you should have a vision statement, to help you and your team reach for the stars. But can you create something as wonderful as Disney’s “to make people happy”?
What is a vision statement?
A vision statement is future-based, designed to give people a sense of direction. It’s the business’s reason for being. It’s how you create your purpose and satisfy your ‘why ’.
Compare that with a mission statement, which is based on your current situation. It’s actionable and measurable, and something concrete. Your vision is far harder to nail down, which is why a vision statement is so hard to write.
Why have a vision statement?
A vision statement encapsulates the core values of the business, and provides a map of where you’re going. It doesn’t necessarily tell you how to get there, but it gives you a direction and a pace. Instagram said they exist to “capture and share the world’s moments.” Ikea? They want to “create a better every-day life for many people.”
Having a meaningful vision statement matters to you and your employees. It results in your staff having higher levels of engagement – 19 points more than other businesses, with 68% engagement. And, more engagement means that people are more productive, and far better ambassadors of the company in the community. It also helps you to keep your momentum when things get tough.
Who creates your vision?
A vision isn’t something one person can create (which is why sitting in front of your computer screen, alone, isn’t always going to be productive).
Start with yourself and have an individual brainstorm session, without the influence of others. It’s also a good idea to see your competitors’ vision statements if you can. That way you can work out how you are different.
You can use interviews with team members, clients or anyone who’s been close to your business, to gather insights and highlight common themes.
How do you use your vision statement?
Where and when you use your vision statement should be planned before you start developing it – think about the role it will play in your business. This means it will actually be used. Your stakeholders can see how it will fit in the organisation, and the part it will play in your future.
Writing the vision statement
Because you’ve involved your team and done your research, you already have the words and information – it’s just a matter of putting it into a statement.
Take all the discussion and weave the mission, goals, purpose and values into your concept. It should be short – keep it to one sentence, or one paragraph. It has to be memorable, but it’s for you and your team. It’s not a jingle or slogan.
Map out your big bold goals
Write down the big goals your business is aiming towards (these should be in your business plan). It might be a good time to review your goals, zooming out and taking a holistic view of the business, because these are at the heart of it, and what will propel you forward.
This might involve a few probing questions about what’s happening at the core of your business. What customers do you love, and how can you attract more of them? Which suppliers and partners bring added value to your business, and can you collaborate with them more?
Some other questions you may want to ask:
What impact will my brand have on the world?
How will the brand interact with customers?
What culture should the business have for the staff?
Where will this business be in 5 – 10 years?
Does this align with my values?
These questions create a map from where you are now, to where you want to be in the future.
Use clear, concise language. Avoid jargon. You need this to resonate.
Don’t worry about being practical. Create a big, audacious vision. Dream the impossible, because with the right people, technology and plans, it could happen. Your business will be shaped around this – dream too small and you might never get to the place you want to be.
Use your vision statement as a constant reminder
Your vision statement is bigger than you. It’s bigger than one bad day, or one bad week. Even when you feel like you’re going backwards, hold on to that vision you had, and know that you’re headed in a positive direction.
"As a small business, every day is an adventure, and sometimes that adventure leads us to a dead end or a ditch. On those days, it's important to remember the passion with which you launched your business – the values that helped get your company to where it is, and the vision you have for a better future." Liz Robinson, ASAP Cargo