A vision statement is a sentence or short paragraph that succinctly describes the goals of a company, nonprofit, or some other entity. It states what you are trying to build and serves as a touchstone for your future actions.
Review details about what a vision statement is, what it isn't, and how it differs from other important aspects of a business plan.
What Is a Vision Statement?
A vision statement is sometimes thought of as a picture of your company in the future, but it’s much more than that. When creating a vision statement, you're articulating your hopes and dreams for your business. Your vision statement is your inspiration, and it will serve as the framework for all your strategic planning.
A vision statement may apply to an entire company or to a single division of that company. Whether for all or part of an organization, the vision statement answers the question, "Where do we want to go?" Once you have one, your vision statement will have a huge influence on your decision-making process and the way you allocate resources.
As an example, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates revealed in 2015 that the company's original vision statement was "a computer on every desk in every home." The vision statement didn't address how they would do that, or how long it would take to do it—it just outlined what they wanted to do.
What a Vision Statement Isn't
Don’t confuse a vision statement with a business plan for your future success. You can think of a vision statement as a rough road map, but a vision statement won't include specific milestones, revenue goals, or strategies for achieving those goals.
Your vision statement is your first step toward developing those goals and plotting your milestones. The vision statement is not tied to the details, and you shouldn't consider specifics while crafting it. A vision statement should capture your passion for what you're trying to do, not your odds of actually achieving it.
How a Vision Statement Works
While a vision statement doesn't tell you how you're going to get there, it does set the direction for your business planning. That makes creating one especially important for small businesses—poor planning is one of the main reasons small businesses fail. Conversely, being able to craft and articulate a vision is one of the hallmarks of a strong business leader.
Vision statements should be ambitious. When crafting yours, don't fall into the trap of only thinking a year or two ahead.
A company's vision statement also provides a point of focus for the marketing team. Marketing campaigns and messages can be checked against the vision to ensure that the marketing is in line with the direction provided by the vision statement.
Vision Statement vs. Mission Statement
|Vision Statement vs. Mission Statement|
|Vision Statement||Mission Statement|
|For employees||For employees and PR campaigns|
|Can be public or private||Always public|
|States where a company is going||States where a company is now|
Unlike the mission statement, a vision statement is for you and the other members of your company, not for your customers or clients. The purpose of the mission statement is to tell the world what you do and how you do it.
In other words, the vision statement is forward-looking, while the mission statement addresses the here and now. The vision statement is the dream; the mission statement is the reality.
As an example, your mission statement might call for every customer to receive outstanding service. Your vision statement might aim for your company's name to become synonymous with outstanding customer service around the world.
While they aren't the same thing, they are interconnected. You can (and should) use your mission statement and core competencies to inform your vision statement. Writing a vision statement without recognizing your current situation is a missed opportunity.
Once you have both your vision statement and your mission statement, then you can start working on connecting those two concepts by creating an action plan. This is the detailed, step-by-step plan that that will help you make the vision you have for your business a reality.
- A vision statement describes the long-term goals for a company, nonprofit, or similar entity.
- Vision statements are lofty and ambitious, and they don't contain details or steps for achieving those goals.
- Vision statements are distinct from mission statements, though the two may inform one another.