Is having a vision or mission important for a small business?

Hands up if you have a vision or mission for your business? I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t. I didn’t either when I put myself forward for this article. Sshhhh! Don’t tell! At least I didn’t have it written down in a formalised way.

Let’s figure this out together!

Firstly, what does vision and mission actually mean?

What is a mission statement?

A mission statement is set in the present and describes why your company exists. The focus is on what you are doing in your business right now.

Examples:

  • LinkedIn: Connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.
  • TED: Spread ideas.
  • IKEA: To create a better everyday life for the many people.

Let’s look a bit closer at the TED mission statement, which has only two words, but says it all. They really do “Spread ideas” through every talk and video they share. They may have recorded some of the most famous presentations in the world but they still keep their mission at the heart of what they do.

What is a vision statement?

A vision statement is future based and shows the direction of your business is going in. It can also be about your core values, your dreams and goals.

Examples:

  • LinkedIn: Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.
  • Oxfam: A just world without poverty.

You can see that Linkedin’s vision is future based and shares the big picture goal of their business. Compare it to their mission statement which is “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”. This clearly says what they do and who for.

Let’s go on holiday…

Here’s another way of looking at what a vision and mission means:

The vision is the road map and sometimes likened to the North Star. The mission is where you are right now.

If you were to plan out a journey to get to a holiday destination or fun day out, you need to know your starting point (your mission). You would picture the type of day out you want, activities and so on (your vision). You would do some research, consider your options and then pick the location. You and your family would look forward to the upcoming trip and feel excited about the fun you will have when you get there (your connection with your vision).

The same is true for your vision and mission when it comes to your business.

You need to have that clarity over who you are and what you do and who it’s for and why you do what you do. You already say a version of this:

  • in your 45 second pitch at networking meetings.
  • You talk about it in one to ones with people.
  • It may be in your text on your website and about section on social media.

You probably already have one, but just haven’t given it the lofty label of ‘mission/vision statement’.

Why have a vision or mission?

As a smaller business you may be thinking “that’s all very well and good for a large global business, but I don’t need one”.

And you are right… You don’t HAVE to have one. You can still have a successful business without a mission statement plastered all over your website and everywhere else.

But just like having a well designed logo means your business looks professional, appeals to your target market and clearly communicates what you do…

…So too can your vision and mission make all the difference for your business right now and future.

Here’s some key benefits of having a vision and/or mission:

  • Helps you and your employees to make both small and big decisions.
  • When planning a new service or product, you can make sure it is aligned with your purpose and goals.
  • It can inspire the business owner, the team, and customers.
  • In leadership within the company, it can be a guide on how to lead and sets the tone of leadership style.
  • The exercise of writing out your statements can bring real clarity to you and in turn can help you share your message more clearly in your marketing.

How to create a mission statement

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do we (the business) exist? (let’s not get too philosophical)
  • What are you doing right now?
  • Who do you work with?

As I mentioned, it should be based on the present and written in present tense.

Here’s my attempt at my shiny new mission statement:

“Using Canva to collaborate with entrepreneurs and virtual assistants to create branding with the flexibility to evolve over time.”

How to create a vision statement

Now it’s time to ask yourself some more questions:

  • Where do you see your business five years (or more) from now?
  • What will your business have accomplished?
  • What are you and your business being recognised for? For example, awards, featured in any leading publications etc.
  • Imagine what you would say when being interviewed about your business in the future.

You can write these down on a notebook, on sticky notes, or on a white board. You can be more visual and create a vision board with a montage of glued magazine cut-outs. Or go digital and use Canva or Powerpoint to create a mood board. You can also gather visual information and ideas onto a Pinterest board (careful you don’t get lost in Pinterest as it can be a bit addictive!).

Once you have this list of future accomplishments, you then extract the most essential parts of your vision. What are key highlights or what was most important? Do you have a particular time frame that you want to achieve these goals?

Why not use this equation to start building your vision statement:

(Five years) from now, (my business name) will ____________ by _____________________.

For example:

Five years from now, The Polo Bar & Restaurant will be rated as a “five-star” restaurant in Northampton by consistently providing top notch food and outstanding service that creates an exceptional and fun dining experience for family and friends.

And here’s my attempt at my vision statement:

“Five years from now, Marie-Louise at Lovely Evolution, will be globally recognised as the go to expert in branding with Canva, with a series of books, online courses and programmes that transforms the businesses she works with.”

What next?

Now that you have your mission and vision statement, either separately or combined into one paragraph… it’s time to put it to good use.

  • Include your statement on your website, either on the home page or about page.
  • Make sure it’s on your about section on your various personal and company profiles on social media.
  • Share your vision with your staff, clients, investors etc. You could mention it in a newsletter, make an announcement, or create a short video.
  • Print out the statement and put it on your wall in your office.
  • Maybe commission a smart looking sign for your reception if you have premises.
  • If you create a vision board, put it somewhere you see frequently, like your office. You can also take a picture of it and use it as a desktop screen saver for your laptop and use it for your phone. The more you see it both consciously and subconsciously, the more likely your vision will become a reality.

I hope this has helped and inspired you to relook at or write a new mission and vision statement for your business.

Marie-Louise O'Neill
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Marie-Louise O'Neill

Marie-Louise specialises in logo and branding evolution; keeping your brand fresh, up to date and ahead of the pack. She offers a comprehensive range of visual services – from logo design, social media templates and website design in the digital space, to printed brochures, adverts, banners and packaging. She’s equipped with a breadth of design knowledge and more than 16 years’ industry experience.