This is what your business will do each day (and potentially also with or for whom). It will clearly define what business you are “in” (and what you “aren’t”) for the foreseeable future, on your way towards achieving your vision. This will help you and your team to focus on doing what is necessary, and avoid what is not.
Here are Mission Statements for the same companies that I used for our earlier examples:
Google: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
TED: “Spread ideas.”
Of course a Mission Statement only makes sense if it is relevant to your business goals – which is where your Vision Statement should “light your way”.
Either or Both ?
While I believe that good Vision and Mission Statements can complement each other, I do appreciate that some business owners and leaders find it easier to focus more on one than the other, depending on their thinking, leadership and communication styles. The most important thing is to always do what works for you and your business, and always keep your “what you do” and aspirational goals clearly in mind.
Using Vision and Mission Statements to Influence Others
While I’ve focused so far on how business owners and leaders might think personally about Vision and Mission, remember that – properly used – they can be powerful tools to attract, engage and align your staff, and they can also help differentiate your business from your competitors when you are dealing with potential customers and suppliers. So it is important they be aligned with and support your brand.
Adding an ethical dimension, there is ample evidence that employees, customers and business partners prefer to work for and with businesses that have lofty ideals (within their Vision) and act nobly (within their Mission).