Basically your mission is a short statement about what you believe your business to be, and what you can offer to your target market,your employees and the business owners.
Your mission can be expansive, intriguing, curiosity invoking and inspiring.
Or it can be boring and constricting.
It creates a mindset or a way of thinking about the business for you and for the people who interact with your business and once established it can be very difficult to think outside that mindset.
You vision is again, a short statement about where you want the business to be in the future and what impact you want the business to have on the people who come into contact with it.
Developing Your Business Mission and Vision
Put simply, the mission is what you do and the vision is the anticipated result of what you do. The methods I use to develop my business mission and vision are described below.
Why do you need to spend time developing a mission statement? Now that you have decided to start your own business, you need to define your business identity and developing the mission statement for your small business is an important step.
A good mission statement is simple, easy to understand, and usually short. They can be a single sentence, a list of bullet points or a short paragraph. By its very nature, your mission statement defines your business and guides your actions throughout the life of your business.
Mission statements commonly include some or all of the following concepts:
- The moral/ethical position of the enterprise,
- The desired public image,
- The key strategic influence for the business,
- A description of the target market,
- A description of the products/services,
- The geographic domain, and
- Expectations of growth and profitability
Sometimes an real life example can do more to explain a concept than pages and pages of discussion. Just below you will find the mission statements for Amazon. Boeing, Coca-Cola, and Walt Disney.
"To be the most customer-centric company in the world, where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online."
"To push the leading edge of aviation, taking on huge challenges, and doing what others cannot do."
The Coca-Cola Company:
"The Coca-Cola Company exists to benefit and refresh everyone it touches. The basic proposition of our business is simple, solid, and timeless. When we bring refreshment, value, joy and fun to our stakeholders, then we successfully nurture and protect our brands, particularly Coca-Cola. That is the key to fulfilling our ultimate obligation to provide consistently attractive returns to the owners of our business."
"To make people happy"
- No cynicism
- Nurturing and promulgation of "wholesome American values"
- Creativity, dreams and imagination
- Fanatical attention to consistency and detail
- Preservation and control of the Disney "magic"
Writing Your Mission Statement
Before you write your first draft you need to gather up the information you have gathered while you were evaluating your business model.
- From your SWOT internal analysis, make a list your core competencies and your unique strengths and weaknesses.
- From your customer research make a list of your primary customers by type.
- If you did any surveys with your target customers make a list of what they are looking for when they buy your product or service in terms of benefits (not features).
Now compare your strengths with what your customers actually want. Are there any matches? If there are not, perhaps you should go back and take a good long look at your business model!
Write a descriptive sentence for each of the matches. Then combine the top three to five statements (the matches) into one paragraph. You have completed the first step in developing a mission statement! Now that you have your first draft, it is time to test it. Take a copy with you, visit your suppliers and ask them what they think. Ask some of your target customers and anyone who will be working in the business with you. If you have found a mentor or a business coach, run your draft past them as well.
When you have asked for feedback from as many sources as possible, sit down and rewrite your mission statement. You don't have to incorporate all of the suggestions made by the people who reviewed your mission statement but you should at least consider them. Then as a final check, compare your mission statement with your small business values. Is the statement consistent with the type of business you want to have?
If yes, great you are done developing a mission statement. If not, you need to redraft one or the other!
Crafting Your Vision Statement
Your Small Business Vision is a view of the future direction of your business. It is the guiding concept for what the business will become. Would an example or two help?
Coca Cola's Vision Statement:
To achieve sustainable growth, we have established a vision with clear goals.
Profit: Maximizing return to share owners while being mindful of our overall responsibilities.
People: Being a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be.
Portfolio: Bringing to the world a portfolio of beverage brands that anticipate and satisfy peoples; desires and needs.
Partners: Nurturing a winning network of partners and building mutual loyalty.
Planet: Being a responsible global citizen that makes a difference.
McDonald's Vision Statement:
"McDonald's vision is to be the world's best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile."
To craft a small business vision statement that means something and can provide guidance for anyone who works in or with your business you need to align your vision with how you currently see your business.
If you have already developed a Mission Statement, you will have a clear picture of what you are in business to do. If not, I suggest you go back and do it now. By combining your mission with your business values and the value you add with your business model, you should be able to begin to develop a vision of where you would like your business to be in 5 - 10 years.
If you have trouble working out what the 'value add' of your business model is, it might pay to take another look at it. Your business model should be a description of a problem that your business intends to solve or the value that will be provided for customers and how you intend to do so profitably.
Is that what your business model is?
The next step is to make a list of the important points in each of the documents mentioned above.
- The value you provide for your customers or the community (the business model)
- The reason your business exists (your mission statement) and
- the values you use to operate your business (your business values).
Rearrange the points in your list into a sentence, read it out loud and then write it again. Try to avoid excessive use of meaningless phrases like 'best in class' or 'superior'.
If in doubt, do an 'opposites check' on your sentence. Does it sound really silly if you substitute any of the phrases you used if you use the opposite? Can you imagine anyone aiming to be 'worst in class' or 'inferior'? If any of your phrases yield silly opposite phrases like this it is probably not good idea to use them.
When you are happy with your small business vision, I suggest you take it out for a spin. Try it out with a few of your friends and acquaintances, show it to your suppliers or a few customers and ask what they think. If it gets the thumbs up all around, your vision statement is all done. If not, take the time to re-visit your statement and incorporate the feedback you have received.
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