In order to maintain focus and drive, a small business should compose mission and vision statements.
Start with the vision statement, which provides a general direction for your organization, and then drill down to your mission statement, which details what you’ll do to reach your vision. “It behooves the management team of any organization to pour their resources onto one, two or a few things,” says Bill Birnbaum, senior strategy consultant at Birnbaum Associates in Sisters, Ore. The firm helps businesses develop long-range strategic plans.
The Vision Statement
A vision statement is a dream or aspiration of the management team—something the team wants the business to accomplish in the future.
Questions you should ask yourself as you compose your company’s vision statement:
- Where do we want to be in five years?
- Does this vision get everyone in the organization excited?
The vision statement is influenced by the owner’s set of values and philosophies. However, if you own a small organization, you may find that including your employees in this process may make them more motivated to reach that goal.
If your business is Padro’s Pizza in New York City, for example, your vision statement might be, “Padro’s Pizza will be considered by food critics and locals to be the best slice and service in town.”
The Mission Statement
A mission statement is a bridge between today and the future. Quite simply, it’s what your business does. It should also cover who your customer is and why they would choose your business over the competition.
The mission statement provides focus to the organization’s employees. But customers also benefit from a company’s mission statement.
Customers can look at the mission statement and see what the company’s expertise is, says Birnbaum. Plus, “If the internal management team is focused, they better serve their customers.”
Questions you should ask yourself as you compose your mission statement:
- Who is our customer?
- What are the needs of that customer?
- Why should they buy our product instead of our competitor’s product?
- Do we have an area of expertise?
Avoid using jargon or fluffy adjectives like “world-class.” Again, if your business is Padro’s Pizza in New York City, your mission statement might be, “We serve food-lovers who desire genuine Italian cuisine. Customers will enjoy pizza that tastes homemade and will be treated like guests in a Southern Italian family’s home.”
Try to keep your mission statement to the point. “A short mission statement—one to two sentences—will fulfill the primary purpose,” says Birnbaum.
Be prepared to change your mission and vision statements from time to time, as your organization grows and matures. The statements might require some re-wording or reorientation. But, Birnbaum says, better to make small shifts in the focus of the mission or vision statement, since together they form the foundation of your business strategy.