Mission Statement Vs. Vision Statement: Do You Need Both?
Mission statements and vision statements are only a few sentences long, but they’re two of the hardest parts about starting your business.
Here’s the main question though…
Do you really need both statements?
If you’re asking that question, you’ve entered into the mission statement vs. vision statement debate. So let’s work on figuring out the answer.
What Is a Mission Statement?
A mission statement essentially describes what your company is doing, how your company is doing it, and who your company is doing it for. But you’ve probably already heard that definition, and even though it sounds simple, it can still be confusing.
So let’s take a step back and look at the word itself.
What Is a Mission?
When you hear the word, you might think of something like a Christian missions trip. A church sends members into different parts of the world to interact and minister to specific groups of people.
Or maybe you think of spy movies. The main character is given a mission to kill the antagonist or else the rest of the world will be destroyed.
In those cases, the church’s mission is to minister to a select group of people, and the spy’s mission is to kill a single person.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word mission means “a body of persons sent to perform a service or carry on an activity.”
With all this in mind, your mission statement should answer the following questions.
- What does my company do now?
- Whom does my company do it for?
- What is the value?
A Mission Is What You Do
Your company is the body of persons carrying out an activity for a purpose.
A mission statement defines what you do. It is a few sentence long definition of your business.
It doesn’t have to be long and fancy. It’s simply describes what your company is doing.
To Give You an Idea…
Here are a few examples of good mission statements. Notice how they are short, many aren’t even full sentences, but still communicate what the company does.
“To inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food.” – sweetgreen
“To spread the power of optimism.” – Life is Good
“To create a better everyday life for the many people.” – Ikea
“To inspire humanity – both in the air and on the ground.” – JetBlue
Mission Statement Guidelines
Even though a mission statement is short, it can be incredibly hard to come up with. Most companies hold several meetings just to get a few ideas or even hire outside help to make sure they’re doing it right.
So here are a few guidelines to keep in mind as you’re coming up with your mission statement.
The question it answers: Why does my company exist?
The length: A mission statement is short. It should only be one (or in some cases maybe two) sentences long.
The purpose: It tells people what your company does.
Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement
If a mission statement is the head of a company, the vision statement is the heart.
Many people mix up mission statements and vision statements or think they’re somehow the same thing, but mission and vision statements are incredibly different.
A vision statement isn’t about defining or clarifying anything. It’s about seeing. Your vision statement should be what gets people excited about your company and motivates your employees.
But, again, let’s turn to the dictionary for a minute.
What Is a Vision?
Having vision isn’t just about seeing the physical things around you. It’s also “the act or power of imagination.”
That may sound a little wishy-washy, but your vision statement is actually built on dreams and imagination. It doesn’t describe what your business is or what it does, but it describes what you want your business to be and do in the future.
When your thinking about your vision statement, it should answer these questions.
- What will my company do moving forward?
- When will my company do those things?
- How will my company do those things?
A Vision Is What You Dream
It should be an attainable dream. Don’t come up with a vision statement that isn’t truly attainable. Customers and employees will be able to tell the difference. And instead of being inspiring, you’ll be comical.
You want something that excites people and shows hope and light in the future of your business. And don’t make it too far off. Make your goal something you can reach in the next 10 years.
The more excited people get about your vision statement, the more they’ll want to be a part of your business. In fact, employees who believe their company’s vision statement is meaningful are more than four times more likely to be actively engaged in their jobs and the rest of the company.
So come up with something inspiring and hopeful but also attainable.
To Give You an Idea…
Vision statements are usually pretty short, but they can be a lot longer than mission statements. Some can be entire paragraphs or pages long.
Generally, you should stick to something short and simple, only a sentence or two. Here are a few good vision statement examples.
“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.” -Southwest Air
“A world without Alzheimer’s disease.” – Alzheimer’s Association
“To be the fastest growing, most rewarding and most transformative leadership community.” – Mandala Leaders
Vision Statement Guidelines
Like a mission statement, creating a good vision statement takes a lot of work. As you’re going through that process, remember to run your potential vision statement through these three guidelines.
The question it answers: As we achieve our mission, what will our future look like?
The length: It depends. There is no specific length of a vision statement. Your vision statement may benefit from multiple paragraphs, but try to keep it as short and concise as possible.
The purpose: To inspire you and those around you.
Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement: Which One Do I Make First?
This is one of the most common mission statement vs. vision statement questions. Which to make first?
Some people will tell you to come up with your mission statement first, and others will say you have to have a vision statement before you can do anything else.
But here’s the thing. There isn’t a specific order.
If you already have a company set up with a solid mission statement, there is nothing wrong with adding a vision statement second.
Most often, people will come up with their vision statement first. That’s because a lot of people dream about where they’re business is going to be in the future before they start it.
If you’re just starting your business, you probably already have a vision statement. It may not be written down and perfected, but you at least have an idea. That idea will influence your mission statement as you continue to get your business set up.
Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement: Don’t Make Them At the Same Time
If you don’t have either statement yet, don’t try to come up with both of them at the same time. That will put you in a confusing mission statement vs. vision statement situation.
When you work on them at the same time, you risk making them too similar, or the pressure of getting two good ones will make them worse than they could be.
Your employees and customers may also get confused between the two of them and not be able to remember either.
Stick with one at a time. It will make the process a lot easier.
Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement: Can I Change My Statements?
You can absolutely change your statements. In fact, many times, you will probably need to change them.
Your company is always growing and changing, so a mission statement that fit your company five years ago may not accurately describe your business anymore.
And that’s a good thing.
If you’ve accomplished your vision statement, you’ll need a new one. Your employees and your customers will be inspired by the change because they’ve just seen you accomplish your goals. Your next vision statement will just be a step higher.
You should never be afraid to change your mission or vision statement. You may even want to change them even if they still technically fit your company. Creating better, more precise statements is a good thing as well.
Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement: Do I Need Them Both?
These two statements do completely different things, so yes, your company should have them both.
They state very clearly who your company is, what it does, and who your company does those things for. It also explains what your company goals are and gives people a reason to get excited about your company.
Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement: Choose Wisely
Remember, it can take a long time to create strong mission statements and vision statements. Take your time. You may come up with several potential options before you find one you really like.
Working on your mission statement or vision statement? Don’t forget to also check out some of the other things you need to know before you start your business in Ontario.