Vision Statement and a Mission Statement: What's the difference?

You've probably heard the terms "vision statement" and "mission statement" before, but what do they mean? And, more importantly, how can you create one for your company?

We're going to break it all down for you. In this article, we'll discuss the difference between these three critical concepts and give you a step-by-step guide on writing a vision statement and a mission statement and how all of that translates into a strategy for your company.

What Is a Vision Statement?

A vision statement is a declaration of your company's aspirations. It captures the essence of your business, what it stands for, and what it ultimately wants to become.

Think of it as the North Star that guides all your strategic decisions. A well-crafted vision statement can inspire employees and set the tone for all your branding and marketing efforts. It should be aspirational yet grounded in reality and something that you can revisit and revise over time.

What Is a Mission Statement?

A mission statement is a declaration of your company's purpose. It should be simple, clear, and concise. It should also be something you can stand behind and your employees can get behind.

A good mission statement will set the tone for your company and help guide your decisions. It should answer the question, "Why does this company exist?" Mission statements can be general or specific, but they should always be aspirational.

Your mission statement can include details of what you do or how you do it. Having a good mission statement will serve as a guide for how you want to structure your strategy and business objectives.

What Is the Difference Between a Vision Statement and a Mission Statement?

A vision statement is a long-term, aspirational goal for your company. It's what you see your company becoming in the future. On the other hand, a mission statement is a more concise statement of purpose that describes your company's reason for existing.

Your vision statement is what you hope to achieve, while your mission statement is how you will achieve it.

How to Write a Vision Statement

The first step is to clarify what you want. Start with questions like: 

  • What are your values? 
  • What do you want to create in the world? 
  • What change do you want to see?

Some people like to start with their mission statement and then use that to inform their vision statement. Others like to start with a general idea of what they want and then get specific.

There's no right or wrong way to do this—it's whatever works best for you. Once you have a general idea of what you want, it's time to start writing.

Keep your vision statement short—a sentence or two is usually enough. And make sure it's something that you can reasonably achieve. There's no point in writing something so grandiose that it's impossible to achieve.

Your vision statement should be inspiring but also realistic. It should get you excited and motivate you to keep going, even when things are tough.

How to write a Mission Statement

Now that you have your vision statement, let's keep it in mind when writing your mission. In writing a mission statement, keeping a few things in mind is essential:

  1. Your mission statement should be clear and concise. It should be a maximum of a few sentences long.
  2. Your mission statement should be aspirational. It should be something that you can strive to achieve.
  3. Your mission statement should be unique to your company.

Now that you know what to keep in mind while writing your mission statement let's dive into how to write one.

There are a few different ways to approach writing a mission statement. You can start by thinking about what your company does and why it exists. 

  • What need does it fill? 
  • What sets your company apart from others in its industry. What makes you unique?

You can also start by brainstorming a list of words you want to include in your statement. Once you have a list of words, you can start putting them together into sentences. 

Finally, once you have a few sentences, you can start refining and editing them until you have a final version that you're happy with.

Some Mission Statement and Vision Statement Examples

The best way to learn how to come up with your own vision and mission is to take a look at some examples. 

IKEA:

  • Vision Statement: "To create a better everyday life for the many people, this is the IKEA vision."
  • Mission statement: "To offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them."

Nike:

  • Vision Statement: "To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world."
  • Mission Statement: "To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete."

Airbnb

  • Vision Statement: "Belong anywhere."
  • Mission Statement: "Airbnb's mission is to help create a world where you can belong anywhere and where people can live in a place, instead of just traveling to it."

How to put this to use

Creating a clear and concise vision and a mission is the first step when starting a company. It serves as a starting point for how you roll out your strategy, how you set your OKRs, and ultimately how you and your team are going to execute on that vision. Your business will generally be structured in this way and each step will inform the one below:

Vision → Mission → Strategy → OKRs → Execution.

Before getting to strategies and execution it's always important to align on that vision and get it right.

Next steps

Now that you have thought about what your company stands for and how you think you'll get there, perhaps it's a good time to think about your goals. OKRs are a common way of taking those high level strategies and turning them into measurable outcomes. You can use spreadsheets to track your OKRs or try tools like Tability, that are built specifically for OKRs and helping you get started with them.

Need some inspiration for your goals?

Check hundreds of OKRs examples and templates to help your set ambitious goals.

Bryan Schuldt

Co-Founder & Designer

at

Tability

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