How To Write A Vision Statement (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Feb. 10, 2021

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Whether you are the founder, CEO, chairman, or regular employee of a company, you should be concerned with its future. Obviously, you want the goods or services of your company to provide sustainable success.

Of course, you may worry about competitors and market issues. However, there is a more important overarching element to the future that you must consider.

There is a reason that brings you to the company. If you are the founder or a motivated employee, you want to know what that is and where it will take you.

If your welfare is tied to the company’s welfare, you will want the company to have a vision statement — Done correctly, this provides a path to success and helps avoid future failures.

What Is a Vision Statement?

A vision statement defines where the company sees itself in the future, what it has achieved, and the guiding principle for its endeavors. The vision statement takes a long term outlook that justifies the existence of the company. Without such a vision, a company will be aimless and at risk of drifting into irrelevance and demise due to poor planning.

The vision statement applies to the company’s stakeholders, from investors to employees and customers. The content of the vision statement should give you a reason to invest your time, energy, and money into the company. The vision statement should tell you what a successful future for the company looks like and how it will be achieved.

Your vision statement should be short and unambiguous in its declaration. It should be simple yet strive for high-level success. It should clearly define your company and make you unique.

Finally, it should align with your company’s values and complement the mission statement. However, you should understand that the vision statement is different from the mission statement.

The Difference Between a Vision Statement and a Mission Statement

It is easy to confuse a vision statement for a mission statement. In fact, some companies incorporate the two into one statement, but those are exceptional cases. You are better off with a clear distinction between your company’s vision and mission.

A mission statement deals with the present and answers why the company exists, what it does, and how it does it. The mission statement focuses on what action is taken by the company and gives a glimpse into its day to day operations. It is a practical statement of action and intent.

The mission statement is very helpful for any customer or investor who is curious about the company, which is why they are usually public and used for branding.

Meanwhile, a vision statement deals with the future. It answers where the company is going.

Though the vision statement may hint at how the company will accomplish its goals, its focus is on the result. This provides inspiration and guidance, which is why the vision statement deals with the abstract of what is possible.

Vision statements are more helpful to internal members of the company because they should be invested in the long term direction and success of the company. Vision statements can be made public, but their relevance depends on whether the customer cares about its future.

To that end, a mission statement is a practical statement of purpose that considers the present, whereas a vision statement is an aspirational goal that gives a company forward direction.

Who Shapes the Vision?

When incorporated, the founder or founders of a company shape the vision. If you want to start your own business, you should have a vision statement ready. Much like the elevator pitch and mission statement, the vision statement will help you attract investors, employees, and customers.

If you are a startup, then you still want feedback for your vision. Ask friends and family, business mentors, and potential investors for their input. However, you must always be the final word. You are about to embark on this great task, so you must believe in the vision and allow it to align with your values.

However, it is not uncommon for companies to change or revise their vision from time to time, especially as it grows. If you find yourself in charge of a bigger company, you have several options to determine the vision. You can ask for input from every stakeholder within the company – that is, the investors and employees, if the amount is reasonable.

If the company is too large, it might be unrealistic to ask for direct input from everybody. However, you can still provide a system to allow for feedback.

For example, you can set up workshops or ask for teams and departments to provide their own vision statements. You could then ask for input from only a select group of qualified people most invested in the company’s future.

The most important thing to consider is that you ask for input from the stakeholders. Theoretically, if you run the company, you can choose the vision on your own. However, this may backfire on you as it could upset the other stakeholders who feel they have just as much a right to determine the vision.

Employees especially can be greatly affected by the vision statement. If their own professional and personal values align with the company, then the employees will feel more connected to their duties.

If employees feel ignored or abused, then their motivation and productivity will drop. In the end, cooperation breeds success, so come to a consensus about the vision.

How to Use Your Vision Statement

Vision statements are very useful tools, and their use can be divided into three categories:

  • Externally. The vision statement can be used for marketing and establishing a brand. With an effective mission statement, the public will better understand the purpose and direction of the company.

    If the customer’s values align with the vision statement, they can become more invested in the company. This could lead to customer loyalty.

  • Internally. This is the most important place to use the vision statement. Investors and employees want to know the direction of the company.

    For investors, it provides more clarity as they consider their investment and weigh it against other opportunities and situations.

    For employees, it provides direction and motivation because they can feel like their efforts matter for a bigger picture. Employees can set this goal and make the necessary decisions to achieve it.

  • Personally. If you are the owner or high-level executive of a company, it will provide you with a compass as you make important decisions.

How to Write a Vision Statement

When you write a vision statement, you want to make sure your words result from a logical process. A vision statement should stand on its merit of reason. To begin:

  • Ask big picture questions. Why was this company founded? What is the future of our industry? Questions like these allow you to narrow your focus with a contextual framework in mind.

  • Next, define your organization’s existence. This is where your other marketing and development statements can help. Use your mission statement and elevator pitch to help define your strengths. Be able to declare the purpose your company serves.

  • Then consider values. Articulate what the company values based on its expectation of quality performance. Also, try to align company values to your personal values because you will be more motivated and devoted to the cause.

  • Define process and outcome. Be able to fully understand the life cycle of the product or service you offer. Much like values, determine what success looks like.

  • Visualize the future. Take the company five to ten years down the road and think about where the company will be. Determine the size and its success with realistic optimism. Focus your prediction on one to two specific goals.

Now at this point, you should have a good idea of what your company is and where you want to take it. So, write it out and:

  • Keep it short. You want to use active, present tense language to give your statement life. Be as brief as possible with only one to two sentences, but also be focused and specific. You do not want a generic platitude that is both forgettable and unhelpful.

  • Set a goal with quantifiable parameters. Your vision statement is about outcomes, and an outcome that can be measured is one that can be better understood by internal and external audiences. This clarifies your definition of success.

  • Give it a passionate, committed personal element. Remember your company is made up of people who provide a good or service to other people. Your people, employees, and customers alike will feel more connected to a statement that incorporates a personal tone.

Finally, once you have written your vision statement, make sure you ask for feedback.

Depending on your company’s size, you may want to ask employees for feedback if they were unable to contribute to the original vision statement. Allow them to make honest suggestions. If your company is small and new, ask family, friends, and business mentors for input.

Common Mistakes to Avoid With Your Vision Statement

Through the vision statement process, make sure to avoid classic mistakes that include:

  • Jargon and too many words. Do not clutter your vision statement with unintelligible or unnecessary information. A successful vision statement should be clear and concise with its goals.

  • Passive language. Passive language diverts from the impact of your statement.

  • Too specific or too generic. A clear and concise statement threads the line between too much and too little information. If your statement is too specific or generic, it will not inspire.

  • Unrealistic expectations. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Although you want to be optimistic, you do not want to live in a fantasy world. The outcomes you seek should be ones that can be achieved with the time and resources you plan to have.

  • Selfish perception. A vision statement offers something of value to its employees and customers. It offers a direction and a goal with a reward that all can benefit from. If your vision is to help out only yourself or the company, you will turn people away.

Final Thoughts

With a short one to two-sentence vision statement, you should be convinced that any new employee or investor will immediately understand and be inspired by the direction of the company.

Take what you have written and make sure it gets the proper feedback — this includes you. Make sure you feel inspired and proud of the vision you wish to achieve.

Remember that a vision statement is about the future. See your future and your goals as bright possibilities. Though it can be subject to change, this target is your compass as you take your company down the road of success.

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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