Vision Statements Help You Picture Firm's Future

Vision statements and mission statements are often confused. The first tells where your business is going while the latter declares why the company exists. There is a big difference.

No matter what your organization's structure,size or type—corporation, proprietorship, partnership, LLC, church, nonprofit organization, professional corporation—you should write a vision statement for it. It gives you a finishing point or finishing line to aim at. (Naturally, as you achieve your visionary goals, you can always revise your statement for greater achievements down the road.)

Writing such statement sets a target and possibly a date for you to arrive somewhere. The statement should encompass a large vision that pushes you and the company. This statement, like the mission statement, must be committed to in writing, not merely a figment of your imagination.

Here’s two sample statements for fictitious companies:

Within five years, John’s Stone Crabs will be the preeminent seafood restaurant in Key West, Florida. It will achieve this goal by delivering perfectly prepared food, gracious service and an exciting and festive environment that creates an extraordinary dining experience for both vacationers and residents will want to repeat and tell others about.

Five years from now or sooner, www.softwareforeverysmallbusiness.com will become the leading online seller of software to small businesses by providing customizable, user-friendly software scaled to the small business.Further, real-person, non-geek help will be continually available to see the installation through from beginning to the satisfactory end.

Here are a couple of real life samples. These examples are quite short, to the point and memorable:

Microsoft’s Vision: "Create experiences that combine the magic of software with the power of internet services across a world of devices."

Google’s Vision: "Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful."

General Electric’s Vision: "We bring good things to life."

Three Steps to Create Your Own Statement

Here are three steps to create your own statement.

Step 1 Jump five to 10 years into the future, picture you and your company’s success in rich, graphic detail. In that picture--from that vantage point--you are looking back on today when you formed the business and you are thinking about all that you have accomplished. What did you accomplish? Write it down in elegant detail! Write down 10 or 20 of your major accomplishments. Categorized and prioritize those accomplishments from the critically important to least important.

Step 2 On the list of your accomplishments, jot down how you achieved each of them. Don’t write down a lot of corporate-speak like this: "I made my first million dollars by putting the customer first with high performance, world class service from empowered employees whose passion for excellence and overwhelming desire to put the customer first to exceed his or her expectations and leave them delighted." Blather! Be real. Be true to yourself and figure out how you achieved what you did to make your vision come true.

Step 3 Then fill in the blanks in the following statement and edit:

In the next five years or sooner, _________________(your company)

___________________(state the accomplishment or accomplishments)

by _______________________________(insert how you did it).

(It might read as follows: "In the next five years or sooner, the XYZ Company achieves a $1 million annual sales volume in online scuba diving equipment sales by developing an uncompromising website that delivers in-depth articles on scuba diving and honest, expert advice on equipment purchases. Advice that is respected by both the veteran and novice diver alike."

Articles on Vision Statements

How to write company or personal vision statement: http://ezinearticles.com/?Writing-a-Mission-and-Vision-Statement&id=24990

Writing for a non-profit: http://nonprofitmanagement.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_vision_statement

Build a strategic framework: Mission Statement, Vision, Values: http://humanresources.about.com/cs/strategicplanning1/a/strategicplan.htm

Re-Visoning: http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Re-Visioning+2009+Make+a+New+Vision+Board+NOW!.html

Your Personal Vision and Mission Statement: http://www.articlesbase.com/management-articles/your-personal-vision-statement-the-beginning-of-your-future-1063756.html

How to Write a Good Vision Statement: http://www.ehow.com/how_2052311_write-vision-statement-company.html

Glossary of Terms

Definition of Business Plan--A publication composed of a set of documents put together by a company's management that details the firm's financial and operations structure. A typical structure for the business plan might include a cover page, purpose of the plan section, table of contents page, executive summary section, description/location of the business section, market analysis section, products and/or services section, organization and management section, marketing and sales management, Financials section and Appendix of additional documents. For existing businesses, the financial section will typically capture the last three years of the firm's operation and include pro-forma balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. For new businesses, the financial section is a projection. A well thought out business plan can serve as a blue print to guide the firm's strategies and policies. The best business plan is regularly updated to take into account new strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Definition of Vision Statement—This statement answers the question where do I see my business going (business vision) or where do I see myself going (personal vision statement). The statement paints a picture of a future that you wish to create. The vision statement is future focused but written in the present tense as though it has already been accomplished as well as being big and bold. This statement is painting a picture with words.

Definition of Mission Statement—The mission statement answers the question, why does my company exist? The mission statement, typically three to five sentences, explains what the company does or produces and what principals guide its business practices and activities.

Definition of Values Statement—A values statement represents the organization’s core values and priorities. Typically, it deals with an organization’s intentions to meet its environmental, financial and social responsibilities.

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