What’s the fundamental difference between your vision and your mission statement?

Let’s start at the beginning; when your business was just a twinkle in your eye. Before your Saturday nights consisted of google analytics, hashtag research and setting up your chatbot. Back then, you had a dream of what you wanted your business to do.

And this is your vision. It’s your why.

You might not have necessarily known how you were going to get there; what product, service or tool you would need to offer, in order to reach that aspiration. But you had a north star to guide you.

The best visions should be pretty impossible to achieve  – that’s the point. If you reach it within a year, where do go from there? What keeps getting you out of bed in the morning and burning the midnight oil?

If you have this statement crystal clear in your mind, then write it down and keep it close. Good for you. But let’s be honest, most businesses aren’t so lucky.

That’s not to say they don’t have the passion and the drive, but articulating what they stand for in a sentence? Wow, that’s tricky.

So it helps to answer these questions:

  • What do you want the company to be in the future (say 10 years)?
  • What makes you get up in the morning?
  • What is your ultimate dream?

It should be aspirational and inspirational – dream big, dream really big, but this is crucial – include passion and emotion, but don’t explain how your vision will be met.

Let’s take Ikea’s vision statement as an example  – to create a better everyday life for many people

You’ll notice there is no mention of their product or what they sell, there is just a dream for a better future for as many people as possible. How lovely.

So moving on to the mission statement, this is a different kettle of fish – now we get down to business.

In my experience most business owners find their mission statement much easier to put into words, it’s a bit more practical, more pragmatic, more…grounded, shall we say.

Your mission says who you are and what you’re about in no uncertain terms. This is your benchmark and describes the purpose of your company; it’s reason for being

It should be simple, straightforward, jargon-free, defining top level objectives and how to reach them.

It can help to ask yourself:

  • In 50 words or less, why someone would chose my business ahead of anyone else?
  • How would you sum up your brand in a sentence, kind of like a catchphrase

Let go back to our old friend Ikea to see what they have to say: 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

This is much different to their vision; it’s specific and uses keywords that are easy to benchmark against in everything they do. They can ask is what we’re offering well-designed? Functional? Low Priced? Attainable for all?

Developing your brand story can be difficult when done by someone (or even a team of people) totally engrained in the business, outside faciliation can ensure an unbiased approach and all angels are covered. And your brand story doesn’t stop with a vision and mission – values, tone and content all play a huge part too.

My final thought is this, nothing is set in stone – your brand story can and should evolve with your business. However it pays to note that a company with a vision that still holds true decades down the line, is, more often than not, one with mighty powerful brand and culture.

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