Unless you’re fresh out of business school, chances are you don’t know the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement. Most people don’t. Even those of us with business degrees and careers in business slip up every now and then. It happens because mission and vision seem so intertwined in our head. It’s tough to keep them separated.
Since both statements are the foundation of every business’ existence and purpose, let’s talk about what they mean and how they’re different. Then, we’ll talk about why every business, regardless of size, needs to have both.
It’s a concise statement that explains what the organization does now. At Kapok Marketing, our mission is to make digital marketing simple and accessible for local organizations here in the Tampa Bay area. This is what we are doing right now. It’s the foundation for company goals. What do we do? We make digital marketing simple and accessible for our clients.
It’s a concise statement that explains what the organization plans to become or be in the future. Think of this statement as the organization’s ultimate goal. It’s every organization’s holy grail. At Kapok Marketing, our vision is to be the go-to digital marketing agency for local organizations here in the Tampa Bay area. This is our ultimate dream or guide for the future. Every day, we work toward becoming that go-to digital marketing agency.
How to Tell the Two Apart
Mission is what you’re doing now. Vision is what you want to accomplish in the future.
When you think of your mission statement, think about what your business does now. You may bake bread, design clothing or style hair. That is your present mission; to do what you do.
Your business’ vision statement is all about the future. What kind of business do you want to be? Do you want to be the leader in your industry or the second best? How do you want to be perceived by all of your stakeholders? All of that is part of your vision statement.
Why Your Business Needs Both
It’s impossible to figure out how to get somewhere if you don’t know where you want to go. You don’t know what you should be doing now to get there. Similarly, a business without a clear mission and vision is prone to struggle with its direction. The possibilities are endless and overwhelming. Everything is pretty much on the table. The only thing that’s not on that table is a clear roadmap for what the business should be doing now and what it wants to accomplish in the long run.
Let’s look at how things would be different here at Kapok Marketing, if we had no mission or vision. It would be super difficult, if not impossible, to fully understand what we should be working on and why. Any opportunity or project that presents itself would seem like a good idea. This would lead to a collection of projects and multiple directions that may or may not have anything in common. The end result would be a hot mess of a marketing agency with a very confused group of people who work there.
But since we have a set mission and vision, we have a much better idea of where we are going and what we need to do to get there. If one of our team members is super passionate about an idea that doesn’t fall within the long-term vision for the agency, we know that it’s not a good match. We have to table it because it’d be a distraction for the company as a whole. Even though one of us may be really good at making lattes, we can’t start selling lattes to our clients. It would not be aligned with our long-term goal to become the go-to digital marketing agency for local organizations.
Now, if one of our team members has a great idea for a digital marketing service we can start offering, we’d be way more interested. It’s a way better match for what we do and our long-term vision.
Easier to Set Goals
Once you know what you should be doing, it’s easier to figure out how to do it and how quickly. If your business sells luxury European cars and your vision is to become the biggest European car dealer in the Tampa Bay area, most of your goals will be focused on making that happen. It’d be a distraction and a dilution of your brand to introduce goals related to adding Ford cars to your inventory.
Here at Kapok Marketing, all of our goals are centered around what we need to do to make digital marketing simple and accessible for local organizations. Anything that’s outside of that doesn’t make the cut. If a goal doesn’t support our mission and vision, it’s deemed as a distraction and not a good goal for us.
Craft a Better Strategy
It’s easier to plan for the future, if you know what you want to accomplish. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a list of goals and no plan. You’ll have a list of sentences that say what you want to do and that’s it. That’s pretty depressing. It’s a list of wishes that may never come true.
Your business’ strategy outlines what needs to be done to deliver on your goals. It lays out the comprehensive plan for achieving your goals and takes into account some level of uncertainty. This is where most of your serious planning happens.
Your mission and vision drive your strategy. Only actions that align with what you do and where you want to go make it into your final strategy. You must approach planning for the future with your vision in mind. Otherwise, it’s unclear what you’re planning for.
Keep Everyone on the Same Page
As humans, we want to belong to a group and be part of a cause that’s bigger than us. It feels good, comforting and exciting to be part of a team with the same mission. This applies to both our personal and professional life. Your company’s mission and vision are the foundation for the common cause your team is passionate about. People are not confused about the big picture and how they fit within that picture.
As a digital marketing agency, we have weekly meetings to discuss the content we need to create and publish. Each person understands what her/his responsibilities are and how those responsibilities fit within our mission to make digital marketing simple and accessible for local organizations. Each person knows what other team members are working on and that their work is an important piece of the puzzle we’re putting together.
Without a clear mission and vision, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to keep everyone on the same page and heading in the same direction. There’s no guide. Pretty much, anything goes and each day has a new flavor. This breeds chaos, confusion and dissonance. This is how businesses fall apart.
Adapt to Changes
Businesses with a clear mission and vision tend to adapt to external and internal changes better. Their leadership and employees have a stronger commitment to doing what it takes to uphold the company’s mission and keep the vision alive. They’re less likely to give up when the going gets tough. People are not working in silos. Instead, they’re part of a big team with the same overall mission. External and internal change is taken head on and as a team.
Also, teams with a clear mission and vision are more likely to take advantage of positive changes affecting their organization. They care more about their organization and try to do as much as they can to take advantage of opportunities to accomplish company goals.
Your business’ mission and vision are the inspiration for personal investment and dedication. People are more likely to become dedicated to something they understand, especially if it aligns with their personal goals and values. This dedication leads to more investment and skin in the game. More dedicated and invested team members go hard when things get tough. They’re also more likely to proactively look for opportunities to make your business better.
Did We Miss Anything?
Does your business have a defined mission and vision? How have they helped your business? How often do you reference or rely on your business’ mission and vision? Leave us a comment.