Why are mission and vision statements important?
Whether you are considering starting a new business or already running a business, well defined mission and vision statements can be of great value. They each serve an important though different purpose and are often confused with each other, but when used to guide business strategy and planning can increase the chances of success. Some business owners put off developing their own mission statement and vision statements, because of the time and effort involved or doubts about their usefulness. However either not having them or poorly defining them can result in inefficient use of resources, reduced brand consistency, increased costs and lost sales. Carrying out the research and analysis needed to develop effective statements for your own business provides you with an opportunity to think clearly about and express what you do and why, along with what you hope to achieve.
A mission statement can describe what your business does, identify your target audience and describe how you deliver a product or service. It should use the present tense and could refer to a period covering the next few years. Over time the mission statement can be updated, to reflect changing market conditions and new products or services. A well written mission statement can help both yourself, your customers and any employees understand the objectives and priorities of your business. This can lead to improved decision making, convert ideas into actions and provide perspective on how particular tasks contribute to delivering overall success. An example of a mission statement would be, to create handmade arts and crafts using traditional materials and techniques, for customers who appreciate premium quality unique items.
The vision statements for your business describe what you want to achieve over the long term, perhaps five or ten or more years into the future. They should establish an ideal to strive towards and inspire yourself, anyone else who works for the business and your customers. Although business strategies and short term objectives might change, the vision statement can be a consistent reference point, providing the business with a sense of direction, purpose and meaning. A well written vision statement can have an emotional appeal, transcending the practical day to day requirements of running a business and give people a shared ambition of wanting to achieve something together. An example of a vision statement would be, finding a fulfilling sense of purpose by creating work that inspires and brings joy to other people.
Developing your statements
When developing mission and vision statements for your business, you should research the market that you will be serving. Ask potential customers what they look for in products or services that they buy and which you are intending to sell. This might include the use of online questionnaires or surveys carried out in real life, such as when attending arts and crafts fairs. Write statements that reflect your business priorities and engage with the preferences and values of your target audience. Whilst you will typically only have a single mission statement, you could write several vision statements. Take a broad approach, so that you explore a wide range of possible ideas and include essential information. Having written proposed mission and vision statements, you should seek feedback from a representative sample of people regarding how effective they think each will be, before deciding which to use.
Using your statements
Having written your mission and vision statements, you will need to decide how you are going to make use of them. Statements should be reflected in the way that you do business, the shaping of a strong consistent brand identity and messaging through all forms of communication. They could be included in website text, social media posts and printed on stationery or a wide variety of marketing materials. Inspiring mission and vision statements can provide you with clear goals, a path to follow and motivate you to overcome self doubt and challenges that you might encounter. They can also attract other people to your work, who appreciate what you create and the philosophy of what you do, helping to make your business a success and enabling you to continue earning a living doing something that you love.
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