Having a clear vision of the future is powerful. It guides your decisions, focuses your energy, and gives you a picture of a future to look forward to provided you do what you have to do today.
In business, you don’t start a company without a plan or launch a product without a go-to-market strategy. There’s usually an aspiration — a vision, if you will — behind every venture that’s worth spending your time and energy on.
And although the importance of a work vision is crucial to achieving success, equally important is capturing and formalizing that vision in a way that clarifies, inspires, and spurs your employees to action.
This is where the vision statement comes in.
Overview: What is a vision statement?
An organization's vision statement is a statement that outlines the goals of your business and where you plan for it to be five or 10 years from now. It’s a critical component of any strategic plan and describes where your business is headed and what that place looks like.
A strong vision statement is brief, clear, future-focused, challenging, inspiring, sets a desirable goal, and provides differentiation for your company.
The best vision statements aren’t too long or too short. They’re easy to communicate and remember. On average, vision statements are approximately two to three sentences, which is long enough to encapsulate the company’s vision but not too long to forget.
Types of vision statements
Vision statements can be classified as quantitative or superlative.
Quantitative vision statements
Your vision statement is quantitative if it includes a number, such as financial projections or any number. An example is Save the Children’s vision statement: A world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development, and participation.
Superlative vision statements
A superlative vision statement talks about being No. 1 in your field, the best in the market, etc. Essentially, it uses superlative adjectives to articulate where you see your company in the future.
Here’s an example from McDonald’s: “To be the best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile.”
Vision statement vs. mission statement: What’s the difference?
Both vision and mission statements are essential for strategic planning. They complement each other, but they’re not interchangeable.
A vision statement captures your future aspirations for the organization, while a mission statement clarifies what you’re doing to get there. Said another way, the vision statement talks about the future, while the mission statement talks about the here and now — specifically what’s being done now to get to the future.
Why should your small business have a vision statement?
Being able to capture your organization’s vision for the future in a clear and succinct statement provides a range of benefits.
1. Serves as your company’s “North Star”
Your North Star is your guiding light, your beacon of inspiration and hope. Your vision statement functions in pretty much the same way. It provides guidance and aids in decision-making. It lets you maintain focus and helps you quickly regroup in case you get off track.
2. Increases employee engagement
A good vision statement unifies employees. It inspires them to work together toward the same goals and objectives. It boosts engagement as people become more invested in their work. In other words, it makes employee management a whole lot easier.
3. Attracts top talent
A vision statement that inspires has the ability to attract top talent, as top talents seek to work in organizations that align with their values and goals.
4. Defines the company’s culture
Your company’s vision statement embodies what you stand for, which ultimately guides how employees interact with each other, as well as how they treat your customers.
How to write your own vision statement
Writing a vision statement that will inspire and motivate employees, and one they will believe in, requires some level of collaboration. Get as much input from stakeholders as you can, and use collaboration tools such as project management software to capture their ideas.
There’s no one “right” way to write a vision statement, but here are some general guidelines and best practices.
Keep your vision aligned with organizational goals
When writing your company’s vision statement, start with what you already have. Your organization’s goals drive decisions, actions, and processes. Integrate them into your vision statement.
Extrapolate key information from your mission statement
Your mission statement defines what you’re doing and why you exist as a company. Use the information in it to visualize where your company will be several years down the road.
Mention your competitors or make an analogy
If you’re a relatively new company, mention a brand your employees can easily recognize or relate to. For example: “To become the eBay of the agricultural sector.”
Keep it brief
Your vision statement should be short and concise — ideally, no longer than one to three sentences. You want your employees to easily understand it and commit it to memory. But sometimes, just a few sentences won’t be enough to articulate your company’s vision. So feel free to write a much longer one, but keep this version for organizational use only.
Make the vision audacious but achievable
Your vision statement must challenge your employees and organization to become better. However, that doesn’t mean the vision should be out of reach. It has to be achievable, but not an easy target. It should give everyone a sense of fulfillment once achieved.
Popular vision statement examples
Reviewing several vision statement examples from popular companies can inspire you to create yours. So here’s a list, in no particular order, for when you’re ready to sit down and write your own vision statement.
To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. (*If you have a body, you are an athlete.)
To be the company that best understands and satisfies the product, service, and self-fulfillment needs of women — globally.
A world without Alzheimer’s disease.
Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.
Connect with friends and the world around you on Facebook.
We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing.
To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.
To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.
Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
Make commerce better for everyone, so businesses can focus on what they do best: building and selling their products.
Capture your company’s vision of the future with an impactful statement that inspires
There’s a laundry list of things you need to do to launch a new business, such as starting an online store, for example. And if you’re not careful, your enthusiasm can quickly get you overwhelmed.
This is exactly why one of the first things you must work on is your vision statement. Done right, it will ensure you stay inspired even when the going gets rough.