What is a Mission Statement and Vision Statement, and What is the Difference?

A good recipe for success will include a code of ethics, as a guide for setting policy, decision making, and attitude toward employees and customers.  Vision Statements and Mission Statements do just that.   

A Vision Statement will help you think forward and will create a mental image of the perfect circumstance that the business would like to achieve.  Vision statements are inspiring and aspiring, and should challenge employees as well as management teams, and the owner.

Questions to consider when drafting vision statements might include:

•             What problem is our company seeking to solve?

•             Where is the company headed?

•             What strategic goals are in place now? 

•             Where are those goals going to take us in the next 10 years?

A Mission Statement is a brief description of the establishment’s motive for being. It defines the establishment’s resolve and its general purpose.  As a business owner, ask yourself:

What is my company’s purpose?  Why does our company exist?  A clear mission statement will guide a company from present into the future.  By keeping the company philosophy well defined and in writing, your people will hold each other accountable.  But it will be up to you, as the owner, to set and hold the level of standards for your business.  Accountability begins at the highest level if you expect it to work at the bottom.       

How Do I Write One?

Most mission statements fall between two and four sentences and are not more than 100 words, but yours could be longer or shorter.  Your Mission Statement should use just the right number of words to get your point across…no more, no less.

The important thing to remember is that distinction is an important element when building a business and developing a brand.  What makes your business stand out from your competition?  What do you do that is different?  Every person has a different set of values.  As people, we are going to bring that individuality into our work ethic, and the result will always be a unique experience.

What is Your Brand’s Public Image?

Defining your brand’s public image begins with your brand identity.  Until you clearly define what that is, establishing credibility becomes very difficult, and in most cases impossible.  If your brand identity is confusing (even just a little), your business will struggle with issues you won’t have once the identity issue is resolved.  If your message is mixed and confusing, how do you expect your audience to react kindly?   Therefore, identifying how you do business will clearly define your mission, and the reflection of that becomes your public image.

Why Stand Out?

Do you want to be ordinary or extraordinary?  Anyone can be ordinary.  In fact, most businesses are ordinary.  Your industry is loaded with others like you that do exactly what you do.  Think of milk as an example.  Milk is milk.  If it is fresh, it has the same taste across all the brands, because it is processed the same.  You will taste a difference in cola.  Coke has a very distinctive taste when compared to Pepsi.  Both are colas and may look the same, but both are very unique in flavor.  Each brand has their own fan base, and both are very successful.

The same can be seen across all industries.  Successful businesses all follow a set of rules that failing businesses never understood, or put into their processes.  It doesn’t matter whether you are selling seamless gutters, dental care, legal services, cars, food or women’s shoes.  You will have others offering the same products and services.  You will need to define what makes your brand better at some point…if you expect your business to thrive. Because eventually you will need to do something different than nothing just to survive.