What’s the difference between a vision and mission statement? Well, a lot really and both are equally important for the strategic shaping and management of your business.

In business land, it’s not uncommon to hear people talk about their mission and vision statement as though they were one in the same, but they are not, they are vastly different beasts.

So, what is the difference?

Vision Statement:

A vision statement declares where you want your business to go and what it will look like once you get there. It helps you articulate success and what that looks like, sounds easy right? Writing a vision statement can be one of the hardest tasks to complete when starting a business or writing your business plan. Really, think about it. What does success look like, or better still what is your perception of success? Is it about how much money the business makes, or how big the business grows? Is it to do with being ranked number 1 for customer service, community support, design or innovation? Is it about building a business that gives you the opportunity to travel the world or spend more time at home? A vision statement is unique to every business and should reflect the values of the business and the people behind it, it can’t be wrong as long as it is right for the business it can, however, be bad so take your time to get it right.

Here’s an example using Amazon’s vision statement – “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

For some great tips on how to write your vision statement check out this article from Forbes

Mission Statement:

A mission statement on the other hand articulates and gives clarity around why your business exists including your overall strategic vision. As a result, the mission statement, like the vision statement should encapsulate the values of your business.

Essentially, your mission statement should answer four questions about your business in a succinct statement:

  1. What your business does
  2. Who it does it for
  3. How it does it, and importantly
  4. Why it does what it does

The why trips a lot of people up, as like defining success, it can be hard to articulate without falling back to statements such as ‘make money’ or ‘make widgets’. This isn’t really what the why means and to get a deeper understanding of the importance of nailing the why component of the mission statement have a look at the work of Simon Sinek. This statement doesn’t need to be more than a few lines long and like the vision statement should be crafted using clear and unambiguous language that makes it easy for employees to learn and understand.

Here’s an example using Ford Motor Company’s mission statement – ”We are a global family with a proud heritage passionately committed to providing personal mobility for people around the world.”

If you are up to this section of the marketing plan and your business doesn’t have a vision or mission statement, chances are you will be engaging stakeholders across the entire business to get it right. If you do have one, now’s a great time to assess whether the statements still stand or if they need refining. Nailing the where and the why will not only give the business focus it will also help give the team focus so it will pay to spend some time getting it right.