Whether you’re a solopreneur or the owner and operator of a business that employs hundreds, maybe even thousands of valuable employees, one of the tasks that most business-related experts suggest you undertake to become a success in your field is the creation of a vision statement. But before you can do that, you need to fully understand what a vision statement is.
Vision Statement Defined
If you’re still a little fuzzy about vision statements, Business Dictionary defines them in an easy to understand way as nothing more than “an aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future.” Basically, it’s where you want to see your company—what you want to see it doing, what problems you want to see it solving, what things you want to see it achieving—5, 10, or even 50 years from now.
This is not to be confused with a mission statement, mind you. Just to be clear, a mission statement is a statement that says why it is you do what you do, more or less outlining the values or goals that are important to you. The two are similar, but to help you see the difference, think of a vision statement in terms of a eulogy. This is a bad example maybe, but bear with me for a second as it might help you better understand how it’s different from a mission statement.
When your doors have been closed for good (which is hopefully ages from now, if ever), what do you want to be able to say that your company has accomplished? What list of things do you want to be able to say that you’ve achieved? Your answers to these types of questions are the things you want in your vision statement. They’re what you see your company doing over the life of it.
Having these things in mind clearly from the beginning can help inspire both you and your employees to meet these short and long-term goals. It also makes it easier to make day-to-day decisions during the course of regular business, ensuring that you stay on track and create the vision or visions most important to you and your company.
Despite knowing and possibly even realizing the value in having a vision statement, many solopreneurs and small business owners still wrestle with the idea of creating one. They wonder how much power such a statement can hold and whether it’s worth the time it takes to come up with one.
If this is you, then you’re in luck. To help you answer these types of questions, I’ve reached out to other small business owners for their input as to whether they’ve decided to create a vision statement, and also to get a sense of what factors contributed to their decisions. This is what they’ve had to say.
A Vision Statement Can Keep You (And Your Team) on Track
Damon “DaRil” Nailer is a motivational speaker, music producer, and author who believes that “a vision statement does contribute to your company’s success.” His vision statement is a simple one-liner: To provide direction, inspiration, and education by delivering dynamic speeches, inspirational writings, uplifting music, and electrifying performances, and he says that his company has benefited from it because it “serves as my optimal goal/objective whenever I speak, write, produce, or perform.”
In fact, after writing, speaking, producing, or performing, Nailer says that he always evaluates his level of success (or failure) by determining whether he “reached all or at least one of my components of my vision statement.” He essentially asks himself whether he provided direction, inspiration, or education during the course of his task.
What made him decide that a vision statement would be good for his business? Nailer shares, “I decided to create one after analyzing my various skills and noticing that this statement is what summarized everything I do in my business. It enables me to stay focused and on task with fulfilling my mission/vision.”
Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal, which he says is best described as “Uber for Lawn Care” agrees, citing that creation of a vision statement can keep your entire team on task. “I believe that no matter what success you look at, it is the result of a team of like-minded people set out to accomplish it,” says Clayton. “It’s important to have a vision statement and an overall guiding true north to rally your team around.”
With this in mind, GreenPal’s vision statement is: There are so many hardworking lawn care professionals that only need an opportunity and a platform to provide their livelihood . GreenPal’s vision is create the platform for them to plug into to grow their business, connect with their customers, and manage their business in seamless and frictionless manner to better their lives for themselves and their family.
It Sets You Apart from Your Competitors
Polly Payne-Willoughby, founder of Horacio Printing LLC, expands on this further by stating, “A vision statement is so important to really set you apart from your competitors and give your whole team a sense of where you are going.” It basically pushes you and your team to excel in areas in which your competition lags, making you more appealing to your target market as a result.
Payne-Willoughby says that Horacio’s vision statement is: Our purpose at Horacio Printing is to help people unlock their inner artist and connect with their God-given purpose. “Having a strong vision statement is what gets me excited to wake up every morning,” she adds. “It changes my tasks from a ‘have to’ to a ‘get to.’”
Vision Statements Can Provide Inspiration
When asked whether creating a vision statement is important to business success, Dr. Jeff Van Meter, founder of The Human Leader, had a less clear-cut answer of “It depends.” The reason for this somewhere-in-the-middle response?
“I see the vision statement as more of an internal statement, rather than something to promote publicly,” says Dr. Van Meter. “For example, for my clinical psychology practice, the vision is to become the highest quality provider of mental health services in the Chicago suburbs. It is what we are striving for. At the same time, it is not what motivates us. It is not why we do what we do.”
Dr. Van Meter goes on to say, “We do what we do because we all have a strong desire to help people in their life journey, to move past internal blocks and obstacles, to become healthy and whole again. We use the vision statement to remind us that there is more to do, more to become.”
Dr. Van Meter says that creating a vision statement was important to him to “keep us from getting satisfied with the status quo.” His advice if you’re considering coming up with a vision statement and haven’t done so yet?
Dr. Van Meter believes that a “vision statement should be stated as simply as possible without jargon.” That’s why his vision statement is short and sweet: We help people overcome their mental and emotional blocks to live life to their fullest potential. Easy, right?
It Can Be Helpful, Depending on Company Size
Mark Ford, president of The Moneo Company, explains that his company does not have a vision statement because it is “small enough such that all of us can see clearly the connection between our individual labors and the strategy, as well as the results of the execution—be it good or bad—of our strategy.”
That being said, Ford does say that he sees a vision statement as serving a very important purpose for larger organizations. “It helps to unite people to follow the leader(s) in the execution of strategy,” says Ford, as “it is difficult for employees to see the connection between their work and the strategy of the company, or even to understand what the strategy is” when working for a bigger company.
In this case then, you may want to consider developing a vision statement if your business is larger in size. And if it’s not, if it’s small enough where you are all crystal clear on your purpose, you may be just fine without it.
As you can see, deciding whether a vision statement is important for you and your business is a personal decision, and one which there are a number of differing opinions. But if you want one and still aren’t sure what your vision is, workplace culture expert S. Chris Edmonds suggests that you consider what drives your company.
What Drives Your Company?
Edmonds is a speaker, author, and founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group and he says he learned about this valuable concept during a coaching call with one of his senior executive clients who questioned whether his CEO thought they were “a power-driven company, a profit-driven company, or a purpose-driven company.” What’s the difference?
A power-driven company is one that “seeks to be a standard-setter, a ‘big player’ in their industry,” says Edmonds. This type of company “seeks to make profits, but their primary actions are designed to increase their influence, their market share, their breadth.”
This is different from a profit-driven company, says Edmonds, explaining that this type of company “seeks to create organizational wealth, first and foremost. It analyzes potential products, services, and markets carefully to identify the most profitable avenues, then pursues those avenues for as long as profits meet expectations.”
Finally, there are purpose-driven companies, which are companies that “seek to engage employees and customers in helping the organization’s service vision to become a reality. These companies often promote social responsibility and demonstrate service to their communities regularly,” says Edmonds.
Knowing what type of company you want to have can help you not only create your vision statement, but also make it a reality.
If you have a strong opinion one way or the other when it comes to vision statements, I’d like to hear it (as would other small business owners who are still on the fence), so please feel free to share it in the comment section below!
I’m always interested in learning other small business owners’ thoughts on relevant topics and issues, so if you have a unique article idea, feel free to contact me at [email protected] (put “Businessing Magazine” in the subject line, please). If I use it, it’s a free link to your website!