How to Write a Vision Statement for Your Business
Without a vision statement, your business planning may feel laborious and shallow, as if no aspirational version of your business exists to motivate the goal setting and strategic decision making of your team.
If you have yet to develop a vision statement for your small business, don't panic. So long as you've got a vision for what you want your business to become, you need only to articulate and formalize this notion to make it official.
To write a vision statement, focus on the basics of your long-term mission, and extrapolate key information.
Author and former CEO, Dan Ciampa, writes in MITSloan:
"A leader’s vision—particularly if that leader needs to bring about significant change in the organization—should start as a vivid, credible image of an ideal future state. The clearer a CEO is about what people should do differently to achieve new, challenging objectives, the greater his or her chances of achieving the changes necessary for success."
Imagine that you, the CEO of your company, are being profiled in the media. For what are you and your company being recognized? If you have trouble visualizing the future of your business, try to mentally script your potential news coverage.
For example, if your current business involves yoga instruction, you could imagine yourself being featured on the news for opening your twelfth franchise. Or perhaps for offering yoga instruction to disadvantaged communities or for innovating the way yoga is taught.
To get your creative juices flowing, here are some examples of vision statements from well-known brands:
- ASPCA: "The vision of the ASPCA is that the United States is a humane community in which all animals are treated with respect and kindness."
- SCORE: "We aim to give every person the support they need to thrive as a small business owner."
- PCC Markets: "We aim to continue growing organically in the Puget Sound region, and to create a cooperative, sustainable environment in which the natural and organic supply chains thrive."
- Tesla: "To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world's transition to electric vehicles."
- Ikea: "To create a better everyday life for the many people, this is the IKEA vision."
Use a Formula
To write a vision statement, distill your business vision into a simple, memorable form.
In their paper, "The Power of Vision: Statements That Resonate," researchers Sooksan Kantabutra and Gayle C. Avery argue that leaders should espouse a vision that:
- Is brief (so that it can be remembered and repeated easily)
- Contains a prime goal to be achieved
- Can encompass all organizational interests
- Is not a one-time goal that can be met and then discarded
- Provides a source of motivation for employees to do their best by welcoming challenging goals
- Offers a long-term perspective for the organization and indicates the future environment in which it will function
- Is unlikely to be changed by market or technological fluctuations
- Is viewed as desirable by employees
Using this formula to write a vision statement will enable you to celebrate what you consider to be the highest goals of your business, while also providing a time frame in which to accomplish them.
Commit to Your Vision
As the vision statement provides your destination, all your goals and strategies are ultimately focused on making it a reality in the time frame you've set.
Beyond talking about your vision statement with outsiders at every relevant opportunity, give your vision prominent placement within company workspaces, where your colleagues can see and be reminded of it on a daily basis.
Be True to Your Vision
When writing your vision statement, make sure you're speaking to the goals which are fundamental to your ambition and foresight for the future.
If you don't have faith in your ability to achieve the goals set by your vision statement, you'll be unable to sell the business to anyone else, or to derive any benefit from the guiding principles of your credo. Make sure your vision statement genuinely reflects your ambition.