Do start-ups really need a vision statement?

Do start-ups really need a vision statement?

Why you need a vision statement

A vision statement is a description of where a company or individual wants to be in the future. There are many different types of vision statements and there’s no wrong or right way to write it. They are usually quite short and outline what the company stands for, its culture and values. They are usually aspirational in nature and it is not only important that you resonate with it, but also that it’s clear enough to give you direction in your daily activities. One of the main reasons small businesses fail is due to poor planning and lack of direction, so having a statement that you can align your activities with, can be a major competitive advantage for your business.

To keep you motivated, to continue to do what you’re doing, day in, day out, you need to know whether or not your endeavours are successful.. and if you don’t know what your purpose is, then how can you know if you’ve reached your goal? The clearer and more specific you are, the more chance you have of that aspiration becoming a reality. It can provide long term direction for you and not only that.. if you employ people to work with you, they need to know what sort of company they’re working for, what the outputs are and how their actions contribute to the successfulness of the organisation.

As Susan Ward says in this article https://www.thebalance.com/vision-statement-2947999 What you are doing when creating a vision statement is articulating your hopes and dreams for your business. They may not set out how to reach your goals, but you can review the actions you take each day to see if they contribute to making your vision a reality. Mind Tools suggests that people can be genuinely inspired if their organisation has a compelling vision and a clear, worthwhile mission; and these can be powerfully expressed in well-crafted mission and vision statements.

But why does this matter? Well, according to research by (http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/3882-vision-statement.html) 68% of employees who find their company’s vision meaningful have 19 points above average levels of engagement. More engaged employees are often more productive, and can be more effective corporate ambassadors in the larger community, so why wouldn’t you take some time out to create a clear vision for your business?

Even if you’re an solopreneur then your family will want to know what you are spending your hours doing, and more importantly.. why you are spending all that time doing it.. and without a clear vision statement, how can you articulate why you’re not at their beck and call all day long!

And finally, what about those pesky customers, suppliers and the media. They all need to know what service or product your supplying.. and your vision can provide them with a sense of who you are, what your values are and how you can help them.
Difference between a vision statement and mission statement

This great article by (http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-a-vision-statement.htm) notes that people often confuse vision statements and mission statements because both are based on the values that an individual or group has. This is partly because they sometimes get combined, especially in small businesses, however they do have core differences so are not interchangeable.

While vision statements are future based and designed to inspire you to stretch and challenge yourself, a mission statement is present based and their purpose is to provide a description of why your business exists, what the principles are behind their activities and why their product or service is superior over others. They might discuss the core competencies of the business and how they can better meet your needs. Vision statements on the other hand are internally focused, they are there to inspire you and your staff and to give a collective feeling of purpose.

How to go about creating a vision statement
A vision statement is like a photograph of your future business, which gives your business shape and direction. When you’re crafting your vision statement, dream big, where do you hope to be in 5 years..? how would you like to describe yourself, who are your customers and what problems will you solve for them?

Understanding your core competences are important when designing your vision statement so think about what is your unique selling point, what makes you stand out from the competition. Why will people choose you over others? Questions to ask yourself are:

  • Who are your customers and what problems do they have?
  • What are your core competences?
  • How will your product or service help resolve their issues?
  • How can you add value to your customers?
  • What are your goals?
  • How can you share your aspirations with your workforce?
  • Are you the best you can be?
  • Where do you see your business in 5 years… and dream BIG!

Kirstin O´Donovan advises in http://www.lifehack.org/articles/work/20-sample-vision-statement-for-the-new-startup.html to always keep your vision statement alive by revisiting it regularly and communicating your vision with other members of the team, to inspire and motivate them as well. Write your vision statement in the present tense and make sure that it is clear, concise and most importantly inspiring!

Examples from large companies

• Amazon: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online… at the lowest possible prices.”
• PepsiCo: “Our vision is put into action through programs and a focus on environmental stewardship, activities to benefit society, and a commitment to build shareholder value by making PepsiCo a truly sustainable company.”
• GE: “Become number one or two in every market we serve and revolutionize this company to have the strengths of a big company combined with the leanness and agility of a small company.”
• Disney: “To make people happy.”
• Oxfam: “A just world without poverty.”
• Ikea: “To create a better every day life for the many people.”
• Avon: “To be the company that best understands and satisfies the product, service and self-fulfillment needs of women—globally.”
• Giro Sport Design: “To become the Nike of the cycling industry.”
• Stanford University: “To become the Harvard of the West.”
• Heinz: “The World’s Premier Food Company, Offering Nutritious, Superior Tasting Foods To People Everywhere.”

What would yours look like?

Good luck.. and if you need any help, please feel free to reach out to me…..

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