What’s a Vision Statement and Do I Need One?

The purpose of a Vision Statement when used properly is to guide the company.  It should be used to make major decisions, for example, “Does doing “this thing” move us towards or away from our vision?”   In order to be used effectively though, it must be concise, clear, and inspirational.

A vision statement can be defined simply as knowing where you want to go, but more on that later.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
Harriet Tubman

To create a great vision, you need to know a few things first. For starters you must know

  • What you want to achieve
  • Where you want to go
  • What you want to be known for

What do you want to achieve

While a Company’s Vision Statement is only one of many tools in the business’s toolbox, The Corporate Vision is very important.  If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you have any hope of arriving there?  Now you may be wondering, what’s the difference between a Business Vision and a Personal Vision?

A vision helps to articulate your goals and objectives.

  • Goals – Define what you want to achieve
  • Objectives – Actions to achieve the goals

You need goals, something to work towards, and something to motivate you.  Goals are your ideal of the future, without goals you have no future.  Goals are also time oriented. “I want to do “something” by “some date.”   When creating your goals, set S.M.A.R.T goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound).

Where do you want to go?

A well-crafted Vision Statement can be used as a motivational vision as well, inspiring employees to work together towards a common goal. Why are you starting your business? Do you just want a job, to work for yourself, be your own boss or is it more than that?  Do you have a passion for something and know that you have a better way of doing it? Do you want to help as many people as you can? Where do you want to take your business? Are you content with just being in your town? Or do you want to be statewide? What about nationwide or global? Do you have a goal of helping one million people do whatever it is that you do?

“Your ability to communicate is an important tool in your pursuit of your goals, whether it is with your family, your co-workers or your clients and customers.”
Les Brown

Knowing where you want to go is going to be very important to be able to creating a clear and concise vision statement.

What do you want to be known for?

How are we going to behave and what do we believe in?  Ten years from now, when you hear someone speaking about your company, what are they talking about? Is it good? Is it something you’re proud of? What do you want to be known for? Maybe it’s supporting the youth football league. Or maybe it’s that you are always helping provide for the elderly.  What drives you? Make sure that your vision is big enough to help others achieve theirs.

“You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.”
Bob Nelson

Let’s look at some real examples, but first, the Vision Statement also serves as the Corporate Manifesto. It is used as a guide post to keep your company on track. When someone presents an opportunity to you, you need to stop, look at your vision statement and ask yourself, “Does this opportunity make sense, does it go against my vision.  Does it move me closer? In the end, is this something that I want as the reputation of my company?”

Personal Vision

Before creating your Corporate Vision, have you created a Personal Vision? You will want to make sure that your personal and corporate visions are in alignment.  If your personal is headed North and your corporate is headed South, that will make for a very difficult journey.   Take it slow, take some time and go out in nature, by yourself where you can reflect. Turn your phone off. Think back over your life.  When were you the happiest? What were you doing? What are you passionate about? 

“There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
Ronald Reagan

Getting your personal vision completed will go a long way in getting started on your corporate vision.

Effective Use of a Vision Statement

A vision statement is not something you create, print out and hang on the wall to check off a box.  A Vision statement is a tool in your toolbox and it needs to be used as such.  You should review it prior to important meetings, meetings where decisions are going to be made regarding the future of the business.  It needs to be reviewed in companywide meetings, remind your employees what the vision is, ensuring that everyone knows what that vision is, well that is your responsibility.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
Henry Ford

Use the vision in making hiring decisions as well.  All of your employees should buy into the vision, if not then you need to help them find a company with a vision they can buy into.  You want everyone in your company focused on the same vision.

Examples

Here are some examples from companies you may recognize.

“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” Patagonia

“We save people money so they can live better.” Walmart

Creating your Vision Statement

Many people use a Business Services Company to create their Vision Statement.  This is not always a good thing.  You can get someone to guide you thru the process, but the vision should be yours.  It should be congruent with your beliefs and your personal vision.  It should be something that drives you, makes you want to get up every morning.  It should also be something that will motivate and inspire your employees.   Take Patagonia for example.  Patagonia grew out of a small company that made tools for climbers.  Their core values reflect those of a business started by a band of climbers and surfers, and the minimalist style they promoted.  Take Patagonia’s Vision and break it down. (From Patagonia’s website)

  • Build the best product
    • Our criteria for the best product rests on function, repairability, and, foremost, durability.
  • Cause no unnecessary harm
    • Seek not only to do less harm, but more good.
  • Use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis
    • We embrace risk and act to protect and restore the stability, integrity and beauty of the web of life.

Look at Walmart “We save people money so they can live better.”   That’s a very clear and concise vision; you can expand that to the following.

  • Innovative thinking.
  • Leadership through service.
  • And above all, an unwavering commitment to saving people money.

I hope this gives you some ideas on the importance of a Vision Statement and in creating your own vision.

Share with someone you know and if you have any thoughts or comments, please share below.

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