How to write a business vision statement in 8 steps

The vision statement and the mission statement may sound similar. They are both important aspects of business planning, branding, and goal-setting. However, they serve very different purposes.

The mission statement is about your company’s commitment to its existing (or soon-to-exist) relationship with customers. Your vision statement is all about your company’s future dreams. Where the mission statement is actionable, the vision statement is aspirational.

There are lots of resources available online about how to create mission statements, but what about the vision statement? How do you go about creating one for your business?

Pick your team and empower them

When creating your vision statement, it helps to take a group or team approach. Small businesses can seek input from everyone, while larger organizations need to be more selective.

Start by identifying stakeholders. These are people with a stake in your company’s future goals and how they’re met. Task them with attending a workshop or brainstorming session. If your organization is large enough, you might want to explore creating multiple teams, each representing specific segments of your company.

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Review your mission statement

Good vision statements look at what you want to become, but those goals and dreams should be consistent with both the company’s values and its mission statement. The vision statement asks questions like

  • How are we serving the greater good?
  • Who are we inspiring?
  • What effect do we want to have on customers, the world, and each other?

After identifying your team (or teams), ask them to review your company values, goals, and mission statement. The core values integral to your company’s mission statement should become part of your vision statement or at least inform it.

Examine other vision statements

Look at the great vision statements of competitors or others within your industry. The idea is not to copy from other companies; in fact, quite the opposite. You want to distinguish your company’s vision from anyone else’s.

Use the drafting process as an opportunity to differentiate your business from competitors. Reviewing vision statement examples can help kick off brainstorming sessions and identify inspiring language and ideas. You can then use those concepts to shape the discussion about your own vision statement.

Be bold

What are your company’s boldest aims and goals for the future? What are your big dreams? Once you know those answers, discuss how achieving those dreams will change the world, the industry, and your community. The answer will form the core of your vision statement.

Be willing to embrace big, audacious dreams, without editing for practicality or possibility. New technologies and developments can radically expand our notions of what’s possible. Who knows what tomorrow or next year will look like in your industry or the world?

Be creative but clear

It’s not necessary to write your vision statement in flowery prose. In fact, it’s far more important to communicate clearly than to write creatively.

That said, the vision statement needs to be inspiring and uplifting. It has to resonate on an emotional level with your employees. At the same time, it must be clear and specific.

One way to help beef up your statement is to pair analogies and metaphors with hard data. Are you launching a shopping site for new parents? Try “Our vision is to be the Amazon of baby stuff for new parents.” Do you want to achieve an explosive rate of growth? Describe it this way: “Our growth rate will explode to outpace XYZ Inc., a leader in our industry, by x percent within five years.”

Trim your draft

Keep the ultimate statement to no more than two sentences in length. It might seem hard to keep your statement that short and still communicate what you want to say. But you can always create a longer manifesto to flesh out the ideas in your vision statement. Think of the longer version as the user manual for how to achieve your vision.

Get buy-in from your stakeholders

Circulate your final draft to all employees, and ask for input. Large organizations might want to hold a subsequent round of workshops to discuss reactions and suggestions. Make whatever changes are prudent, based on the feedback you receive. The more input your employees have in this process, the more ownership they’ll feel over the finished statement and the more likely they will be to integrate it into their work.

Use your vision statement

Hold a company-wide session (or a series of departmental meetings) to solicit suggestions from all of your employees as to how they can incorporate the vision statement into their daily workflows and interactions with others, including colleagues and customers.

You may also want to design a recognition and reward program to give positive reinforcement to those who successfully integrate the vision statement into their jobs.

Finally, publish and share your statement. You can print it and post it in staff rooms and offices, and publish it on your company intranet. Keep it front and center so it seeps into your company culture.

Achieve your vision

In the words of Jonathan Swift, “Vision is the art of seeing what’s invisible to others.” Once you can articulate your company’s roadmap for the future, you begin to make that dream visible to all of the company’s employees. You can then work together to make that vision a reality.

A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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