Everything You Need to Know About Business Mission and Vision Statements

Every business, organization or company has a fundamental purpose and specific audience that they aim to help. Whether you’re a small startup or a global enterprise, your business should have a statement that represents these values and describes the needs your business was created to fulfill. Mission and vision statements allow you to define your business goals and philosophy by reflecting on the work you do and how it achieves specific objectives. 

A business mission and vision statement empowers and guides you and your team to keep your overall destination in mind with each new target, plan and project. Learn the difference between mission vs. vision statements, how to write them and why they’re an integral part of any business.

In This Article

What Is a Business Mission and Vision Statement?

Although they may seem similar, there are a few differences between mission and vision statements. These terms are often combined to provide a comprehensive statement for an organization or company.

A business mission statement is a brief description that defines an organization’s fundamental purpose, objectives and approach to achieve those objectives. Every company has different values and goals, so every mission statement will vary. However, each mission plan should broadly describe a company’s current customer focus in a way that all internal and external audiences can understand.

A mission statement aims to answer the following questions:

  • Why do we exist?
  • What do we do?
  • How do we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?

In contrast, a vision statement describes the future position your business desires to reach. You can use a vision statement to represent your inspiration for the future and articulate your organization’s hopes and dreams for what you are trying to build down the line. While a vision statement represents a picture of the future and serves as the foundation for operational and strategic planning, it doesn’t necessarily explain how you’re going to get there. 

Ultimately, a vision statement depicts an idealistic, long-term state of the future of your business, while a mission statement should represent the roadmap to that specific destination and how you will achieve it.

Why Are Business Mission and Vision Statements Important?

Mission and vision statements are an integral part of the corporate strategy process. These statements act as bookends for every operational and strategic plan — something your business needs to thrive and complete projects and goals efficiently. Think of your mission statement as the starting line and a vision statement as your finish line. They remind your team, stakeholders and audience how your present activities are helping you reach your end goal. 

Without vision and mission statements, your plans and projects may be too vague, making it hard for team members to be on the same page when implementing initiatives. Mission and vision statements are important because they ensure management alignment and help measure the success of your programs and projects. Without a representative statement for your brand, it can be difficult to determine if you’re making the right decisions and on the right track. 

The biggest benefit of a business mission and vision statement is putting your organization on the map and getting yourself noticed by potential supporters. Whether you work for a nonprofit and want to increase donors or in the commercial sector and want to target a new consumer audience, everyone who interacts with your business should understand how you benefit the community.

How to Write a Vision and Mission Statement

Though writing mission and vision statements is a varied process because it requires unique information from each organization, you must ensure your statement accurately reflects your company and connects with your audience. Follow these best practices below if you want to learn how to write a business mission statement or revise the one you currently have.

1. Define What You Do

Before you can write an overarching, personalized mission and vision statement, you need to start with the basics. Define your business objective and what your audience or a customer may be able to do or gain from your product or service. Focus on what you actually do before getting into the outcomes you aim to achieve.

Define What You Do

Remember, some potential new customers and supporters unfamiliar with your business will be reading your mission statement for the first time, so it’s important not to assume they know the purpose behind your company.

2. Determine How Your Business Stands Out

Keep in mind that, to consumers today, very few products or services seem new. In your business’s life span, you’ve likely identified your competitors and why you believe your company will be successful in comparison. Find your unique selling point and go with it. Whether you founded the business on century-old traditions passed through generations of family or provide only high-quality products that meet a unique problem for your customers, let it shine in your mission and vision statement.

3. Gather Testimonials

If you aren’t sure how to make your mission and vision statement stand out, collecting customer reviews and testimonials is an excellent way to see how your business has positively impacted other people or businesses. Gather around with your team, review these testimonials, and highlight how your business really went above and beyond. Use this material to influence your mission and vision statement and describe how your business solves a particular problem.

4. Be Specific and Relatable

Because your mission and vision statement should be brief — a few sentences at the most — it’s vital to avoid making broad, unrealistic claims. Ironically, you don’t want to be too visionary in your statement because it can turn a solid future vision in your customer’s mind to skepticism and confusion.

While it’s fine to make bold statements and show that your business aims to go further than competitors in your field, be sure that the language you use is relatable and detailed enough that every member of your audience can easily comprehend it and visualize it along with you! Be sure to choose memorable statements that your customers can seamlessly transform into a mental picture.

5. Conduct Competitive Research

If you and your team find yourself with writer’s block while crafting your mission and vision statement, researching your competitors is an effective way of learning how they are connecting with your similar audience. With a simple online search, you can find thousands of business vision and mission statement examples and see how they present their product or service as a unique solution to your customer’s needs.

What Makes a Great Mission Statement?

What Makes a Great Mission Statement?

Great mission statements tell people who you are in a memorable way. They allow you to hire, train, promote and fire. They are the touchstone for every decision, strategy, brand extension and policy. And they are embedded in vision, values, strategy and operations.

They are not theses, plans, strategies, outlines or, in essence, anything long. Great mission statements are short and sweet.

Simplify and Strategize

When done right, your mission can become part of your brand. When your employees or customers think of you, they think of this simple statement that says who you are.

Check out these great vision and mission statements from companies:

  • Harley-Davidson: We fulfill dreams through the experiences of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.
  • Southwest Airlines: We are dedicated to the highest level of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride and company spirit.
  • MD Anderson Cancer Center: To eliminate cancer in Texas, the nation and the world through outstanding programs that integrate patient care, research and prevention, and through education for undergraduate and graduate students, trainees, professionals, employees, and the public.
  • Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Do you notice a trend with these? They all demonstrate four pretty distinct traits:

  1. They are all short. The longest mission statement above is still only 34 words. The shortest, Google’s, is only 12 words.
  2. They are all memorable. If you work at one of these companies or use their services, you can easily memorize these.
  3. They are all easy to want to be a part of. Eliminate cancer? Now that is something people want to be a part of. And while driving a motorcycle might not be for everyone, most people can back the idea of a company fulfilling people’s dreams. A great mission makes people want to be a part of it.
  4. They all go to the heart of who the company is. These mission statements can be so short because they are poignant and relevant. When you get to the point of who you are and why you exist, then you don’t have to ramble on and on.

10 Tips for Creating Mission Statements

Now that you understand the importance of creating mission statements, visions and company goals, check out these 10 tips:

1. Set Aside Time for Creating Mission and Vision Statements 

Creating mission statements does not need to take months. However, it does need to be done. If you have not taken the time to do so, then make the time.

Consider a day-long retreat with some pre-retreat preparation.

2. Communication Is Key 

Communication is critical when creating mission statements and visions. There are many reasons for this:

  • Ideas come best through group brainstorming.
  • When you communicate the purpose and thought processes behind your decisions to your employees, it makes it easier for them to feel like they are part of them, which makes it more likely they will do their part to the best of their ability.
  • If something goes wrong with the plan, then feedback from the ground employees might be the first place executives learn of it.

So after you set aside time for creating mission statements, visions and goals, make sure you also collaborate with the rest of your team.

3. Always Have a Mission and a Vision 

While the specifics might change, the need for creating mission statements and visions, as well as goals for how you will meet those missions and visions, does not. Once you have created mission statements and visions, your company should work towards these purposes daily and nightly.

Periodically examine these statements and make sure you are on track. If the answer to any of the following questions is no, then think about redrafting:

  • Is it short?
  • Does everyone know it?
  • Can you train around it?
  • Does it define you?
  • Will it take you in the right direction?
  • Does it inspire passion?
  • Does it say how you want to be remembered?
  • Have you revisited it in the last three years?

4. Create Big Mission Statements, Visions and Goals 

You are only likely to accomplish what you try to accomplish. That is why you need to dream big, even while remaining realistic.

Hopefully, the purpose of your business isn’t to be mediocre. If you have a vision statement that you’ve already met, you have no vision. When you are not going anywhere, you are more likely to fail. So dream big, and then work to get there.

In an article for Business News Daily, Sean Peek suggests focusing on a place five to 10 years in the future. What do you want to have accomplished by then? Your vision should come from there.

Creating big mission statements and visions will make your company more competitive.

5. Make Mission Statements and Visions on Point 

Creating a mission statement that makes others envious is great. Summoning a vision that makes other visions look silly sounds great. You can even make goals that make professional hockey players look like amateurs. But if none of them go to the root of what your company does and intends to achieve, then it was all a waste of time. 

When creating mission statements and goals, make sure they are on point. Focus on hitting the bull’s eye of what you want to be and how you want to become it.

6. Make Your Statements Short and Sweet 

If you really want to outpace your competitors, create mission statements and visions that are quick to the point.

You and your employees should be able to easily memorize and recite these. If they do not know what your vision is, how can they help you realize it?

If you have more than a handful of statements, or if they are paragraphs long, then you need to do a lot of cutting and editing. A good mission statement should be around eight to 10 words long. Your vision should likewise be on the shorter side.

Your goals should also be short and sweet. Focus on the most important goals, and forget the rest. Edit down the length of your statements until they are easy to say. Additionally, it’s best to stick with a few goals. Overwhelming employees with goals can make it hard for them to know which ones are the most important.

Fewer, shorter statements and goals help you keep the important things in your mind’s eye. When you have your eye on the true prize, you are more likely to get it.

7. Assign Specific Tasks and Responsibilities to Specific Individuals 

While creating mission statements, visions, goals and tasks should be a team effort, once you have created them, it is time for people to go solo.

As part of your strategic plan, it is important to assign task-specific responsibilities to individuals so they know what is expected of them and can better see their purpose in your vision.

Suppose you assign Jane, Elisa and Harry the goal of increasing your hospital’s customer satisfaction ratings by creating a method to clean up the way customer complaints are handled. What is to stop Jane from thinking Elisa will take charge, Elisa to think Harry will, and Harry to think Jane will?

Things often fall by the wayside when multiple people are assigned to them. That is why it is always a smart idea to hold one specific person accountable for various tasks’ success.

8. Don’t Settle for Just Anything That Could Work 

While creating mission statements and visions should not take years, you also shouldn’t settle.

Imagine you are at your retreat trying to figure out who you are as a business. Someone says something fairly decent. So you choose it and move on.

Throughout the creation process, collect the good ideas that the team comes up with. Then, once you have come up with several choices, discuss which one is the most fitting for your company.

At AchieveIt, we sometimes recommend using a Monte Carlo selection process to facilitate this.

9. Remember Who You Are 

When creating mission statements and visions, keep in mind who you are and where you came from. Your mission and vision statement and your goals should be a reflection of the company.

A good mission statement does not say what you do — it says who you are. Take MD Anderson Cancer Center — their mission is “to eliminate cancer.” Though the statement goes on to say how they want to accomplish this mission, the beginning tells you everything you need to know about why they exist, who they are and what their purpose is.

Honoring that past in your company will only make you stronger. Your roots help you create whatever your business is intended to do.

10. Make It Something Your Customers and Employees Can See, Envision and Support 

Your mission statement says why you exist. Your vision statements say where you want to go. Your goals tell people how you will get there. But to make all of these feasible, you need your employees, your customers and your clients to be able to envision and feel them.

When people can see who you are and get behind it, then they will support it and want to be part of it. Workers who do things because they are told to — not because they understand the purpose behind it — are often not the most productive.

In an article for Business News Daily, Jennifer Dublino suggests a strong mission statement can motivate employees and increase engagement. When creating mission statements, make sure your employees can envision and feel your mission and understand how the goals you have set for them relate to that mission. Make them want to help, and then show them how they can do it.

How to Ensure the Effectiveness of Your Business Mission and Vision Statement

Writing your business mission and vision statement is the easy part. The hard part comes with implementing it. Upholding and adhering to your business’s mission and vision statement is one of the most effective ways to reach your intended consumers and audience. With AchieveIt’s strategic planning software, you can simplify plan execution and implementation and keep all your team members connected across your projects.

Our solutions allow you to manage and track your performance to help you achieve more and stay aligned with your business mission and vision statement. With software that makes it easier to focus on your most important initiatives by reducing manual processes, you can spend more time ensuring your business is living up to the purpose and goal in your statement.

Incorporating Your Mission Into Your Company and Brand

Once you have a sweet little statement with which to work, make that mission a part of who you are. It is called a mission statement for a reason: it is the driving force behind who your company is.

In other words, don’t set it and forget it. You should be living out your mission every day.

How do you do that?

  • Include goals and initiatives in your strategic plan that help you work towards proving your mission. Is your mission to make cancer history? Then what are you doing to realize that mission?
  • Show your employees why your mission is so important and how their day-to-day activities make it a reality.
  • Incorporate your mission into your brand statement.

Making Your Mission Statement Part of Your Brand

Your brand or company motto is probably the way your customers know you the best. So, it makes sense that your mission statement and motto would be similar. When creating a motto or branding statement, use your mission statement for guidance.

In 2000, Memorial Health in Savannah, Georgia, adopted a five-word mission statement: “We help people feel better.” The organization carried that mission statement into its branding with the simple, two-word tag of “feel better.”

After tightly aligning its mission and brand, the organization rose to market dominance, which included four consecutive years on Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” and record margins.

In 2008, Liberty Health in Jersey City, New Jersey, adopted a three-word mission statement, “We enhance life,” and a two-word brand tagline, “Enhancing life.”

Since weaving together its mission and brand, the organization has made tremendous strides culturally, clinically and financially, and it is emerging as the market leader in New Jersey’s highly competitive Hudson County.

See how easy it is to do too? Once you have a short mission statement, turning it into a relevant brand statement becomes quite easy.

Making the Most of Your Mission Statements

It takes a great deal of thought and reflection to define your organization’s mission in a sentence or two. Doing so requires you to strip away all the extraneous stuff you think is organizationally important and home in on the purity of your existence. However, when you can do this, amazing things happen.

So, make sure your mission statement is an important part of your business.

  • Keep it short.
  • Evaluate it frequently, such as anytime you update or evaluate your strategic plan.
  • Incorporate it into your strategic initiatives.
  • Make it part of your branding.
  • Teach it — and its value — to your employees.
  • Make them feel like they are part of creating that mission.
  • Create something that people want to join.

Once you have done all of this, you will start to see great things happen.

When you have that mission and plan ready, the next thing you need to do is execute it. The perfect mission statement is nothing if you don’t follow through with it. What good is Harley Davidson’s mission to fulfill dreams through the experiences of motorcycles, after all, if no dreams ever get fulfilled?

That is where AchieveIt can help. We help you take your goals and make them realities. With bird’s eye views of every task going on to accomplish your dreams, dashboarding technology to see where plans stand, and task assignment functionality that keeps everyone accountable, your missions become a lot closer to accomplishments.

Write Your Business Mission and Vision Statement Today

Having a well-written business mission and vision statement is critical for your teams to know the values and goals that your company lives by. However, ensuring that every project, plan and initiative aligns with your mission and vision statement is how you bring those values to life for your stakeholders and customers. At AchieveIt, it’s our mission to help businesses and organizations connect, manage and execute these plans while improving accountability, visibility and uniformity between all team members.

Building a plan may be easy enough, but executing it requires much more effort. With our integrated planning solutions, you can reduce manual processes and ensure each project stays on track with your company’s goals and objectives.

Write Your Business Mission and Vision Statement Today

Organizations like regional healthcare systems, global corporations and federal agencies all use AchieveIt to make their most important initiatives a reality. Many excellent ideas never reach fruition because companies haven’t found an easy way to keep everyone on the same page. AchieveIt helps businesses keep everything in view and get people engaged. You also benefit from the knowledge and experience of our execution experts. Download our free strategic planning template, check out the AchieveIt Execution Management Platform or contact us today to learn how our solutions can help your business bring your mission and vision statement to life.


Meet the Author  Chelsea Damon

Chelsea Damon is the Content Strategist at AchieveIt. When she's not publishing content about strategy execution, you'll likely find her outside or baking bread.

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