How to write a vision statement
How do you see the future of your company? As Tony says, “When you decide what’s most important to you, your brain goes after it.” Your company vision is the manifestation of what is most important. It will focus your energies and get results – you and your employees will be naturally drawn to this goal.
At its founding, Microsoft’s company vision statement was, “A computer on every desk and in every home.” We’d say that came true. This is the power of creating a vision statement – and of demonstrating great leadership.
Great leaders, like Bill Gates, aren’t just those who have a vision for their future. Every entrepreneur wants to start a successful business and make a lot of money. Great leaders have specific visions – and they are able to communicate them effectively to employees in order to inspire them. In mastering how to write a vision statement, it is this sense of clarity in purpose that will ultimately guide you to success.
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What is a company vision statement?
Your company vision is its inspiration. Your vision is a big, ambitious statement about who you are and what your intention is in the world. It’s forward-looking and descriptive, yet straightforward. It is driven by great leadership – you must not only believe in your company mission, but also live and breathe it. It also drives your company culture and is a tool for guiding your employees and your business decisions.
Company vision statements vs. mission statements
Company vision is different from your mission – your vision is where you want to go, while your mission is how you get there. So why is understanding how to write a vision statement so critical? Your company vision statement inspires, while your mission statement instructs and informs. Vision statements answer the question, “Where are we going?” while mission statements answer the question, “How do we get there?” Both are critical components of your corporate communications, but serve slightly different roles.
The basics of company vision statements
The most important thing to remember about company vision statements is that they are short and concise. This is also what makes writing them so difficult: You’ll need to convey your massive, beautiful, world-changing business idea in just a sentence or two. It also needs to have weight and substance to it. The best company vision statement examples are more than taglines.
A vision statement is always future-oriented. Imagine your business at least five to ten years into the future when you’re writing your statement. Choose a point in time when you will revisit your vision statement and evaluate whether you’ve achieved it. Then create SMART goals that are challenging yet realistic to help you get there. A company vision statement isn’t just a bunch of words – it’s a plan.
How to write a company vision statement
Your company vision statement encapsulates the legacy you’d like to leave behind once you’ve implemented your exit strategy. Your vision is the “why” behind the “how” that shapes your business’ ultimate purpose. Forbes outlines a three-step process for putting your business vision into words.
1. Define your purpose
Understanding how to write a vision statement starts with finding your purpose. It’s an essential part of being a great leader – you cannot inspire passion in others if you don’t find what makes you passionate. It could be making a difference in the world, providing a customer experience or improving the lives of others and providing a moment of happiness through a particular service or product. This is what inspired you to start your company in the first place, and it’s an important part of your company vision statement. Ask yourself why you chose your industry, who your ideal customer is and what reputation you’d like to develop.
2. Refine your mission
With your broad purposes and objectives in place, you can now narrow them down into a mission statement. Ask for input from your team and mentors, and use actionable words. What sets you apart from the competition – what’s your X factor? You must determine what makes you stand out from all other companies. What makes you so great that you cannot be ignored? What value do you add to your customer and to the marketplace?
3. Create your vision statement
The last step is to combine your company’s purpose and its X factor into a memorable and inspirational company vision statement. “Clarity is power,” as Tony says, so make sure this statement is clear and concise. Your vision statement is also your chance to make your business noticeably different – so be bold!
To clarify your company vision, look backwards – to your history, milestones and achievements, as well as your present successes and challenges. What are you proud of, and what would you like to achieve from this moment? Honest answers to questions like these will form the basis for an outstanding vision statement.
The role of leadership in company vision
Creating a vision statement isn’t the end of your objective. You must make it part of your company culture. As Tony says, “Culture is king.” To be a great leader, you must live and breathe your company vision statement. Employees can always tell when their leaders are not sincere, and this can break trust. You want to build trust, because you need a culture that will cause the company to grow.
By living your company vision statement and always connecting it to your day-to-day behaviors and expectations, you’ll set an example for managers. They are also leaders, so enlist their help in spreading your vision. Have managers and team leads connect their projects to company vision during internal presentations or brainstorming sessions. You can even bring in outside presenters to discuss a subject and connect it to company vision. And hiring managers must always bring it up during the interview process and ensure potential employees are aligned.
Creating a company vision statement makes you a better leader
The benefits of understanding how to write a vision statement are not one-sided. Strategic Finance reports that, rather than meaninglessly consuming your time, the process of defining your vision actually makes you a better leader. The mechanism hinges on personal accountability.
If you’re developing your leadership skills, making a leadership vision statement is an excellent way to hold yourself accountable. Center your vision statement on traits and outcomes pivotal to your company’s identity, like integrity, honesty and fairness. Think holistically to include your team and customers’ experience in your analysis. By aligning your leadership behaviors with your company’s founding vision, you’re able to grow professionally and push your business to excel.
Company vision statement examples
Need inspiration? Check out these company vision statement examples.
Zappos is a visionary company known around the world for making a splash. As Zappos founder Tony Hsieh said, “Chase the vision and not the money – because the ironic thing is the money will actually follow if you’re passionate about whatever it is you’re doing.”
By way of company vision statement examples, Zappos distilled its purpose into five potent words: “To live and deliver WOW.” Your company vision statement is a huge part of your brand identity, and it’s your branding that ultimately sets you apart from the competition. Creating a vision statement shows what you care most about and the difference you hope to make in the world. A powerful vision statement will inspire your employees to get on board. There’s a difference between motivation and inspiration. If you can inspire your employees you can accomplish so much more.
Tony Robbins has created a household name out of his brand, which centers on Tony’s own company vision. Through coaching, mentoring and teaching, Tony’s success lies in his ability to inspire others to transform their lives.
The mission statement of the Tony Robbins Foundation sums up Tony’s foundational vision: “Empowering individuals and organizations to make a significant difference in their quality of life and the lives of others.” Like Tony’s, your company vision statement also directly connects to your business’ profitability. How? It will drive you to achieve big things. It gives you a meaningful goal to work toward and that you are passionate about. It will be the catalyst for innovation and growth, and help you create a culture of innovation that draws the best talent and creates the latest breakthroughs. As Tony says, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”
Nike has an inspiring and powerful brand identity and uses some of the world’s top athletes in its marketing campaigns. Nike has found its X factor and the message is clear: We are more than shoes. We’re a lifestyle. When you wear our products, you tell the world that you are a strong, driven and capable person.
Nike is best known for its short, powerful, “Just do it” slogan – three words that are recognized around the globe. Like its marketing, its vision statement is inspiring and creative: “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. (*If you have a body, you are an athlete.)” The asterisk in Nike’s company vision statement adds an unexpected element that makes it unique.
Started in a garage during a recession, Apple nearly went bankrupt due to competition from its rival, Microsoft. The company pivoted to phones and today is worth $1.3 trillion. Like its products and strategies, its company vision statement has also changed over the years.
At its founding, its company vision statement was “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.” That bold statement reflected the big dreams of its founder. Today, Apple’s vision statement is “To produce high-quality, low cost, easy to use products that incorporate high technology for the individual.” This statement is more detailed, but still reflects Apple’s desire to change the world by making technology accessible.
Before you know how you’re going to get there, you have to know where you’re going. You wouldn’t plan a trip without knowing your destination, and you can’t make a business map without knowing your goals. Understanding how to write a vision statement is vital to the success of any business – and it starts with a strong leader. Learn more about leadership and company culture at Business Mastery, and create a company vision statement that will make your business thrive.
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