How to Write a Vision Statement? (Step-by-Step)

Are you excited to be starting a new business? Crafting a vision statement that captures the venture’s long term goals can give you, your partners, and your employees a rallying point. It can also attract new investors, and give customers or clients the chance to identify with your business.

Writing a vision statement can be an important step on your road to success — but sometimes, finding the right words is hard. What tips should you keep in mind that create a vision statement that will push your business ahead?

Elements of a Vision Statement

A vision statement is a short motto that captures the core goals a company has for the future. A vision statement can describe what kind of workplace a company is hoping to be, how it will benefit its customers, or how the business is planning to transform the world. Vision statements often, but not always, begin with “to”, which is followed by a call to action.

A vision statement is more than a tagline, though — it is a powerful message that defines a company’s overarching strategy and direction for the next five to 10 years. By having a strong vision statement, everyone within the company and beyond will always be able to look to these simple but impactful words to remind themselves of the company’s goals. A vision statement can help determine policy decisions, send a message to investors, and let customers know that you share their values.

How can a vision statement, a short message no longer than a single sentence, do all of that? Let’s see that in action by looking at effective vision statements well-known companies have embraced:

  • Disney — “To make people happy.”
  • Nike — “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
  • Ben & Jerry’s — “Making the best ice cream in the nicest possible way.”
  • Amazon — “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

All of these vision statements are short, get straight to the point, and reflect the company culture perfectly. They are all excellent examples of powerful vision statements that send a message to employees, investors, and customers.

Not all vision statements are like this, though.

IBM’s excessively long vision statement (“To be the world’s most successful and important information technology company. Successful in helping our customers apply technology to solve their problems. Successful in introducing this extraordinary technology to new customers. Important because we will continue to be the basic resource of much of what is invested in this industry.”) sends a less transparent message.

McDonald’s vision statement is shorter, but filled to the brim with corporate jargon: “To move with velocity to drive profitable growth and become an even better McDonald’s serving more customers delicious food each day around the world.”

Yet, all these vision statements have something in common — they show you what the company’s goals are at a glance. It’s not difficult to see how creating your very own mission statement could be helpful, then!

Mission Statement vs Vision Statement: What Is the Difference?

Mission statements and vision statements are both commonly used in the corporate world, and many people get them confused. Indeed, vision and mission statements are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are key differences between the two.

Mission statements and vision statements both convey key messages that lie at the core of everything a company does, but:

  • A mission statement succinctly captures the company’s overarching purpose — the reason why it exists. This core statement never needs to change. One example would be Nokia’s “Connecting people“. Mission statements are almost always aimed directly at the consumer, and are very public in nature. They convey a core value and the business model.
  • A vision statement shows the world what the company’s goals are, or what it’s working toward achieving. Vision statements can change over time, as a company moves in a new direction or expands, and are focused on the future rather than the present. They are often aimed at investors and employees more than at customers, and can serve as a framework to base policy decisions on.

How to Write a Vision Statement for Your Company: A Step-by-Step Guide

A vision statement defines the long-term goals your company will pursue over the next five to 10 years, and can sometimes last much longer than that. It is important to get it right, then! Writing a vision statement isn’t a quick process; you likely won’t scribble a few words on a napkin at a restaurant and hold yourself to your hurried writing for the next decade or so.

To end up with a vision statement that truly reflects your company’s vision for the future, try to put these tips into action as you write.

1. Make Brainstorming a Collective Effort

Do you not have a mission statement yet? Chances are that you are about to embark on a brand new business venture, or that you are running a small company that you may be looking to expand in the near future. In both of these cases, you may be running the business as a sole proprietor, you may have a few partners, or you may have a very small team.

If your business runs as a team, the vision statement should also ideally be decided on collectively — and everyone who plays an important role in the decision-making process should agree on the vision statement if it is to inspire them in the future. Setting up a no-pressure brainstorming session, in which everyone is able to put their ideas forward, is a great way to get started.

Get a big whiteboard out and write all the ideas down, perhaps circling or underlining statements that are particularly strong. A common thread will likely begin to emerge, and this will help you narrow the content of your vision statement down. You may also discover words that reflect the company culture particularly well, and that you definitely want to include in your vision statement.

If you’re going into business solo — as a freelancer or independent consultant, perhaps — you can still reap the benefits of outside input in writing your personal vision statement. Quiz your friends or family, or even ask clients for feedback.

This early stage of your creative process serves to inspire; don’t commit yet.

2. Carefully Consider Your Future Goals

Where do you want to be in five years? What about 10? What impact do you want your business to have on the world, or your local community? The answers to these questions will help you craft a vision statement, rather than a mission statement, and it can additionally be helpful to consider the answers to the following questions:

  • All businesses essentially exist to solve a problem or fill a need — what do you want your business to do better in the future?
  • If you were to be really ambitious, and if everyone in the business were to work their very hardest and smartest, what could you accomplish? What do you want to accomplish?
  • What do you want your customers or clients to think and feel when they think about your business, or see your company logo?

All these questions help you explore your own dreams and goals for the business, which can help you create an effective vision statement.

3. Define the Company Culture

The wording you choose for your vision statement should reflect your business model and culture. Whole Foods, for instance, wants “To nourish people and the planet”, while Uber declares that “we ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion”. You’ll see that words that evoke mental images closely related to the company’s primary purpose were artfully used in both cases.

Warby Parker conveys youthful image when it says that “we believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun”, while Starbucks chooses more formal wording when it shares its vision “to establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow”.

All of these vision statements speak volumes, not just about its vision, but also the image the company wants to present to the rest of the world. If yours does the same, you likely have a winner on your hands.

4. Keep Your Vision Statement Short

Do you remember IBM’s vision statement, which we shared above? Probably not, right? You may, however, well have been familiar with Disney’s “to make people happy” long before you started reading this short guide. The most effective vision statements are short enough to be able to remember them without making any effort. Your vision statement can’t inspire your employees if they don’t remember it, or if it’s boring.

Keep it short and relevant, and your vision statement can work miracles in your company.

5. Make Sure Your Vision Statement Is Uniquely You

Imagine, for instance, three different companies — a global telecommunications giant, an organic-food delivery service, and a roofing contractor. Could the vision statement you came up with realistically be applied to any of them? In that case, your vision statement may accurately reflect your goals, but it’s not specific enough.

At the very least, make sure that anyone reading your vision statement could think “oh yes, that makes sense!”. To really succeed in writing an impactful vision statement for your company, however, aim for one that could easily inspire the right people to work just as hard on achieving the core goal as you already do.

6. Boldly Move Forward with Your Vision Statement

After going through all of these steps, you should end up with a vision statement that:

  • Accurately reflects your company’s goals and vision for the medium- to long-term future.
  • Is inspiring, and something you can realistically imagine employees sincerely rallying around.
  • Is ambitious, but realistic — if you’re a local pizza company, don’t aim to feed the entire world. Just your community.
  • Is written in plain English and avoids corporate jargon. Some companies choose differently, but if you want to reach as many people as possible with your vision statement, keep it relatable.

Have you done all that, and are you happy with the result? Go forth and publish your vision statement everywhere you see fit. Share it with your customers and employees. Make sure everyone knows what you’re aiming to do.

7. Revise Your Vision Statement Whenever You Need To

Your vision statement isn’t set in stone — your company will grow and change, and after some time, you may discover that you need a new vision statement to match an evolved vision. Mission statements often stay with a company throughout its life, but vision statements can be amended or overhauled completely whenever it becomes necessary.

Tips to Keep in Mind as You Write Your Company’s Vision Statement

Writing a vision statement for your company can seem like a monumental task. Before you go ahead and begin the process of brainstorming and writing a vision statement that accurately reflects your company’s goals for the future, it helps to:

  • Read diverse current and past mission statements published by large companies — those you admire and those you hate. This will give you a good idea as to the formats in use in the corporate world, and the length of most vision statements. It will also allow you to begin to discover what kind of mood you want to set with your own vision statement.
  • Write a mission statement, which describes your company’s purpose, first. Some businesses connect the two, and having both a mission statement and a vision statement gives you a complete “mini manifesto” that sets forth your core values and goals.
  • Make a list of words related to your company’s activities, which can mentally tie the vision statement to your core purpose. If you’re running a pizza restaurant, for instance, those words could include “slice”, “dish”, “box”, and “flavor”. You never know — this exercise could help you write a vision statement like “Adding flavor to the Smallville community — one slice at a time”.
  • Because your vision statement should be short, you won’t be able to include all your goals in it. Prioritize. Ask yourself what all the goals that matter to you have in common, and make that your vision statement.
  • Once you’ve written a sentence that coveys your core message, see if you can shorten it, and if any of the words could be replaced with words that better reflect your company’s mission.

Why Does Your Company Need a Vision Statement?

Not all companies have vision statements, just like not all businesses have mission statements — and depending on the kind of business you are running, or are hoping to start, you may indeed be able to get by without ever writing a vision statement. The part-time dog-walking business you are running as a one-man band, for instance, likely doesn’t need a vision statement.

There are plenty of reasons to consider crafting one anyway, no matter what kind of company you are starting — a vision statement can help (almost) any business, by:

  • Uniting employees, at all levels of the organization, in a common purpose.
  • Attracting employees and investors who share the company’s core values.
  • Reminding employees of the goals the company is working toward every day, and inspiring them to pour their hearts and souls into the job, because they aren’t just working for a paycheck — they are also working to make the vision come to life.
  • Offering a value framework that can help the board make the right decision when faced with a crossroads. “Does this decision fit in with our vision?”
  • Communicating foundational goals and values to customers or clients at a glance, thereby allowing them to decide whether they share these aims. This is a powerful way to create customer loyalty, as consumers increasingly want to buy services and products from businesses they admire.
  • Giving your company something to measure its success by; have you moved closer to your goal, or do you still have work to do?

You already know what your company’s overarching goals for the are — so why not spend some time brainstorming the best way to encapsulate them in a catchy vision statement? You have nothing to lose, and can benefit from having a vision statement in plenty of different ways.

FAQs

I don’t run a business. Can I still write a vision statement?

Sure! A personal vision statement can help to propel you to success and motivate you to reach your goals for the future. The same writing tips that help business owners create vision statements can be of use to you, too.

Can I hire someone to write my company’s mission statement for me?

You can, but if you work with a marketing team, it is important for you to be involved in the process of crafting the mission statement every step of the way, starting with describing your vision for the future in as much detail as possible.

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