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Mission vs. Vision vs. Value Statement: What They Are and How to Write Them

When starting a business, you should have a clear picture of the problem you’re solving, how you plan to resolve it and which values drive your team and hook customers. To attract top talent and ensure your idea is viable to stakeholders, you need to be able to reduce these concepts down to a simple mission, vision and value statement. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between a mission statement vs. vision statement and offer tips and examples to help you craft your own.

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Why write a mission statement vs. vision statement vs. value statement?

All businesses must write a mission, vision and value statement. This isn’t just a box-ticking exercise; it’s something that helps every investor, employee, potential client and loyal customer understand what your business does and why it’s important.

As Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” If you’re unable to take your brand identity and simplify it to a few sentences, your concept is at risk of not being understood by investors, your target market or employees. If people don’t understand what you’re trying to do, they’ll have difficulty buying into your brand and driving it forward.

What’s more, if managers and employees working for you don’t understand your mission, vision and vision, you’ll have a hard time creating a harmonious workforce. Cohesion and consistency are paramount in business, and these statements provide a framework for your internal and external communications.

What is a mission statement?

A mission statement is a single sentence that describes the purpose of your company’s existence. It describes your business’s intentions and goes some way to demonstrate how you’re working towards making your vision statement a reality.

This statement serves as a fundamental blueprint for vendors, customers, investors and employees, offering a sense of purpose and a clear direction so they understand what to expect from interacting with your brand. If you’re wondering how to go about writing this vital statement, think about what drove you to start up the company.

Even though it’s just a sentence, it should serve as a crucial guideline for your business and everyone who interacts with it. Everything your company does should lead back to your mission statement purpose, and you can use it to shape the interviewing process and employee training programs.

What is a vision statement?

A vision statement describes what your business aims to achieve long term. It’s a future-focused concept that instantly invokes a picture of the ideal state of the world after your company has made its impact.

Your mission statement should be an easy-to-understand sentence or two that inspires employees and other stakeholders. In addition to motivating, it should help them understand and invest emotionally in the company’s direction.

What is a value statement?

Your value statement or list of core values expresses the priorities of your business and describes the standards and principles that drive you and the people who work for you. As opposed to being goal-oriented, the value statement describes what your brand personally stands for and lays out the blueprint for your entire company culture.

There’s an element of vulnerability to letting the world in on what governs your business, which is essential in the modern marketplace. Employees and customers value transparency, with 90% of workers stating that it’s important for a company to have transparency as a value. Core values provide an enhanced level of transparency that can help you attract and retain top talent, in addition to being a point of attraction for potential customers.

Examples

Over the past two decades or so, some of the biggest companies have shown the world how important mission, vision and value statements are. These businesses live and breathe their core values and demonstrate the impact of implementing these vital driving statements.

Let’s take a look at some of the most famous examples for inspiration and see how effectively these statements can drive success.

Mission statements

  • Tesla: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
  • Ted: “Spread ideas.”
  • LinkedIn: “To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”
  • PayPal: “To build the web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution.”
  • Amazon: “We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection and the utmost convenience.”
  • Nike: “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.* *If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

Vision statements

  • Microsoft: “To help people throughout the world realize their full potential.”
  • IBM: “To be the world’s most successful and important information technology company. Successful in helping our customers apply technology to solve their problems. Successful in introducing this extraordinary technology to new customers. Important because we will continue to be the basic resource of much of what is invested in this industry.”
  • Starbucks: “To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.”

Value statements

  • Disney: “Openness, honesty, integrity, courage, respect, diversity and balance.”
  • Ikea: “Create a better everyday life.”
  • American Express: “We deliver premium value.”
  • Impact Theory: “It doesn’t matter who you are today. It only matters who you want to become and how hard you are willing to work to become that person.”

Tips for writing a mission statement

Your mission statement is the driving force for your business. It ties you and all your stakeholders together so you’re all working towards a common purpose. Here are some tips for writing a mission statement:

  • Make the connection to your business so obvious that someone who hasn’t heard of you before can understand why you exist.
  • Be as brief as possible while making maximum impact—the shorter it is, the more memorable it’ll be.
  • Be authentic.
  • Get the opinion of as many people as possible to ensure it’s clear to understand and makes an impression.
  • Think big: Your mission statement isn’t the time for humility; it’s an opportunity to captivate potential employees, customers and investors.

Tips for writing a vision statement

One of easiest ways to remember the difference between the mission vs. vision statement is by thinking of a mission being in the present and a vision being in the future. Below are some tips for writing an effective vision statement:

  • Aim to project five to 10 years into the future.
  • Speak in the present tense.
  • Avoid being humble and be decisive about your ideal future state.
  • Don’t use jargon or wishy-washy language.
  • Inspire your target audience with passion and genuine emotion.
  • Ensure your vision is aligned with your values and goals.
  • Take the time to create a road map to making your vision a reality.

Tips for writing a value statement

Take your time when writing core values because they can serve a number of vital functions within your organization. From interviewing candidates to devising onboarding training and daily operations, your value statement act as an outline for how all employees and stakeholders conduct themselves in the context of your company.

Here’s an idea of how to write your company’s values:

  • Work with your team to identify everything that’s important to you and them and write down everyone’s ideas.
  • With the same group, write down what you all think is important to potential customers and other stakeholders.
  • In a smaller team, or by yourself, narrow these down to between one and 10 statements that appear on both lists.

The question isn’t just about mission statement vs. vision statement—core values are also crucial. Authenticity, transparency and purpose are driving the most successful businesses in the world right now. Use these statements to communicate and solidify your brand identity and drive success from the inside out.

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