Author: Soma Datta Jurgensen, Owner of Intentional Growth Strategies
How could Google Maps possibly relate to writing a compelling vision statement for my business? Vision is an illustration of the future – a visible purpose for a journey. In this case, when you set your destination in Google Maps you are, in fact, setting a vision for where you plan to go.
Of course, setting a business vision is far more complicated than entering your destination in Google Maps. Unless you are starting a new company, it is most effective to discover a vision collaboratively with your employees. If you are lucky enough to be starting a new venture, then let your biggest dreams guide you.
Defining your vision based on the concepts in this article can set you apart from your competition. A 2010 study of Fortune 500 company vision statements showed only 31% clearly identified a vision statement with the three core elements you’ll learn here. You read that right, only 31%.
1. What goes into a vision statement?
Professionals from all industries will use vision and mission interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Mission, or mission statement, is a component of vision. Based on the seminal article, Building Your Company’s Vision from the Harvard Business Review, the most compelling statements include three components:
- Core Values
- Core Purpose
- Visionary Goals
2. Examples: follow the links for the complete statements
It was difficult, I’m sure you understand, to find quality examples to share with you. I’ll start by sharing an example of my vision statement and will include other examples throughout the post. I invite any feedback of my mission statement in the comments. There is always room for improvement!
Example 1: Intentional Growth Strategies
We will transform business education for entrepreneurs and small to mid-size businesses so professionals can develop the skills they need with learning designed as carefully as you’d find in the nation’s top ten business schools. Imagine the power of Harvard generated research, delivered in practical, bite-sized pieces that’s just a tap or click away.
Example 2: Interface Global:
Read more about Interface Global here.
Example 3: Unilever:
Read the rest of Unilever’s vision here.
3. Practical part: Create your compelling vision
Now that you’ve explored some examples in practice, let’s look at each component in turn
Step 1: Core Values
To define your organization’s core values, identify 3-5 central values for which you’d want your company to be known no matter what it does, for whom, or when. Core values are independent of time, industry, or fads. Some examples are as follows:
Nordstrom’s – Superior customer service
Disney – Creativity brought to life
3M – Pioneering innovation
Your customers and clients care about your values because they’ll do business with companies they trust. When a company doesn’t act in line with their stated values, customers notice.
Take the time to work collaboratively with strategic partners, mentors, or branding specialists as you define and state your values in a way that you’ll be proud to share with the world. Many companies turn their values into a visual document called a manifesto. I invite you to view my company’s manifesto for an example of how your business’ core values can come to life visually.
Step 2: Core Purpose
Your company’s core purpose is its mission statement. In this portion of your vision articulate why your business exists. In your core purpose it’s necessary to answer three questions:
- What do you offer? (Contribution)
- Who do you serve? (Target Market)
- Why should they choose you? (Point of difference)
To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.
1. What does Amazon.com offer?
A service where “customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online”
2. Who does Amazon serve?
All online shoppers on “Earth” (assuming that you are not as big as Amazon is, you will have to be a lot more specific)
3. Why should customers choose Amazon.com?
They are the most “customer-centric” and they “endeavor to offer its customer the lowest possible prices.”
I’ve noticed as I’ve consulted with companies that most often their mission statements don’t clearly describe their target market. What is your mission statement? Do you have all the elements to communicate your core purpose?
Step 3: Visionary Goals
This is my favorite part of business vision – it’s what gets me out of bed every morning, and it will do the same for you and your employees. Your visionary goals are your long-term, challenging objectives that would take you a decade or more to accomplish. Don’t confuse the visionary goal with your strategic plans which are more short term.
Four categories summarize most types of visionary goals:
- Target – a lofty sales or market share target (see the Tata Group example bellow)
- Common enemy – unseat the number one industry leader – note: you can’t be in the number two position for your goal to be visionary (see the ASOS example bellow)
- Role Model – to become like another firm, in a top spot, but in another industry (I’m still waiting for an organization with the visionary goal to become the “Uber” of carpools for parents!)
- Internal Transformation – for companies with multiple products, services, and product lines, setting a goal to be number one or two in every market they serve requires significant internal transformation.
Examples of visionary goals:
By 2025, 25% of the world’s population will experience the Tata commitment to improving the quality of life of customers and communities. As a result, Tata will be amongst the 25 most admired corporate and employer brands globally, with a market capitalisation comparable to the 25 most valuable companies in the world.
To become the number 1 fashion destination for 20-somethings globally.
Creating a vision that inspires you, your employees, your partners, and your customers takes time, drafting, re-drafting, and collaboration. Why do the work? If you’re moving forward, you want to make sure everyone’s going in the right direction.
Please share your business vision in the comments. Let’s learn together.
Soma launched Intentional Growth Strategies to consult with small business owners to increase their sales and industry thought-leadership. The author of Fearless Follow-Up: How to Turn Conversations into Clients and the ebook Leading Teams that Get Results, Soma transforms her experience in curriculum design and professional training into her passion for turning business school theory into practical tools that engage, inspire, and produce results.