When you hop in the car to embark on a road trip, you need one thing at your side — a map to show you how you’re going to get to your destination. The business world works the same way. If you want to be as successful as possible, you need a blueprint, or a map, to keep on course. That map is your mission statement definition

This statement will keep you on your path. It isn’t concerned with what you’re going to do when you reach your destination — its purpose is to guide you onto the next road you’re supposed to take if you hope to get there. 

What is a Mission Statement?

A company mission statement sets the immediate course for that business. It focuses on the company’s current goals. It lets customers, employees, and the general public know what a company is about, how it will reach its objectives, and what motivates the company to do what it is doing.

It lets people know what the company offers, and why they are different from the other companies out there who do exactly the same thing. It gives a business a chance to show how it is unique, even if at first glance, it doesn’t appear to be. 

With 30.2 million small businesses in the U.S., which makes up 99.9 percent of the companies in this country, there is a lot of industry competition. Standing out from the crowd and finding a way to run a successful business is imperative when there is this kind of competition. That’s how a mission statement can help.

Since they are such an important tool for a company, a business mission statement requires a lot of thought and effort. They aren’t hastily jotted down in a few minutes — they may take weeks of meetings and dozens of drafts before one is accepted. It’s an important process that is worth the time.

And as time goes on and goals are met or changed, it’s critical to revisit that mission statement and see if it still applies or if it can be tweaked to make it a more effective tool for the company. If it is changed, it should always tie in to the values that the company holds dear. 

Having a concise, updated mission statement is crucial for businesses who want to continue to thrive. It can also clearly spell out what the company’s values are. That can be valuable because businesses can attract or lose business based on their values and how well they adhere to them. 

Consumers are more sophisticated and place a higher emphasis on transparency than prior generations did. A carefully drafted mission statement can reach these conscious consumers.

What Is a Vision Statement?

The vision statement can be considered an end game or ultimate goal for a company. It’s where they want to end up.

It serves as a source of inspiration for what that company wants for itself in the upcoming years. As such, vision statements are often lofty and may even seem far-fetched to some. That’s okay, because dreams do become reality with enough hard work.

And while vision statements may seem incredibly simple, they can be excruciatingly hard to write. That’s in part because of how simple they are. It’s not easy to boil all your hopes and dreams for your company into one short sentence.

Some businesses choose to skip vision statements, sometimes only having a mission statement instead. But because they can be powerful guiding principles when hard decisions have to be made, they are handy to have and to refer back to whenever you’re questioning a decision.

To help understand what a vision statement definition is, think about retirement planning. When companies offer their employees retirement savings seminars so they can learn about their investing options, often the financial experts hand out retirement planning books. 

These workbooks ask employees questions about what they would like their retirement to be like. They ask what their goals are, and where they envision themselves at retirement time. What would they like to be doing if money weren’t an option?

Based on those answers, those booklets help employees determine how much money they might need to fund their dream. It motivates those employees to make the leap and sign up for a proper retirement savings plan like 401k. It convinces them to take action to make those dreams come true.

A company vision statement is a lot like that retirement booklet. It requires forward thinking and the ability to dream up the kind of future you’d like to see for your company.

Difference between Mission and Vision

Mission and vision statements are sometimes confused with each other or used interchangeably, but these are two separate, but equally important, statements. 

While a mission statement can be a great tool for a company to let people know what they are about and to govern their present actions and aspirations, the vision definition is more of a long-term plan.

It should inspire the future path of the company. It may even touch on the industry as a whole and what company leaders envision for that as well, and what role the company may play in that future. But one of the most important differences between these types of statements is the scope of time they are encompassing. Remember:

  • The difference between mission and vision is the scope of time involved. Mission statements deal with the present, while vision statements are based on where you want to be years, even decades, from now.

Coming Up With the Right Statements

Don’t be alarmed if you go through multiple drafts and spend weeks, even months, coming up with the right statements for your company. It’s not a race; it’s a time-consuming process that can greatly benefit your company. It’s better to get it right than to do it quickly.

Before writing your own, it may be beneficial to look up the statements other companies have used. You can get a sense of what you like and don’t like, and what will work for your business.