When launching a startup, founders typically have an idea of what they want to achieve — a vision of what success will look like. During the strategic planning process, it’s important to put this vision into concrete terms. Not only does a vision statement clarify your thoughts, but it helps employees and stakeholders understand what the business has set out to accomplish. No matter what the business, a good mission and vision statement can inspire and motivate employees to make that vision a reality.
Whether it’s your first or fifth business, writing a compelling vision statement can be challenging. Below, we'll share how to write a vision statement — one that inspires your employees and positively impacts your business — and we'll look at a few vision statement examples to help you get started.
What is a vision statement?
A personal mission statement and personal vision statement can be used to guide our decision-making and help us stay focused to meet our long-term goals. Company statements are no different. A company vision statement is one of your most important business documents, along with your mission statement and core values. Although it’s easy to confuse the three, each one is unique and serves its own purpose.
Core values are the organization’s long-term beliefs and principles that guide employee behavior. A mission statement deals with “why” an organization exists, while a vision statement outlines “what” that existence will eventually look like. A mission statement has to do with what the organization is doing in the present, while a vision statement focuses on the future. Mission statement examples include L’Oreal’s “Offering all women and men worldwide the best of cosmetics innovation in terms of quality, efficacy, and safety.” Conversely, Disney’s vision for itself is “to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.”
Primarily intended for internal employees and shareholders, a vision statement describes what an organization aspires to be. It helps to think of a vision statement as part roadmap, part inspiration. By outlining a long-term vision, rather than just short-term goals, a vision statement helps give the organization shape and purpose.
Why it’s important to have a vision statement.
Despite the importance of a vision statement, many companies choose to operate without one. Some simply combine their mission and vision into one general document. Others do away with the idea altogether, thinking that corporate visions are vague statements that serve no actual purpose.
This is a missed opportunity. A vision statement can be a highly effective tool to keep an organization on track, and unite the organization’s team — from investors to employees — toward a shared purpose. It can also have a positive impact on a company’s well-being. In fact, employees who find their organization’s vision meaningful show engagement levels of 68%, a considerable 52% higher than employees who don’t. Not only do good vision statements keep everyone motivated and moving in the right direction, they also provide guidance whenever there’s a strategic decision that needs to be made.
Furthermore, studies show that highly aligned organizations grow revenue 58% faster, and are 72% more profitable than ones that are unaligned. If an organization doesn’t have a vision or a clear idea of what it wants, it will greatly limit its opportunities and have a difficult time inspiring employees to stay committed.
How to write a vision statement.
Writing a vision statement may seem like a daunting task. It’s read by every employee and shareholder, and greatly impacts the success of the organization. And a vision statement takes time and thought. When done well, a vision statement can provide the encouragement your company needs to achieve its goals. To streamline the process, keep the following steps in mind while crafting your vision statement:
1. Determine who will help write your vision statement.
When starting out, it’s likely you and your partners will be responsible for writing your company’s vision statement. Once you start hiring, you can ask managers and employees to contribute additional insights. Interviewing a range of individuals will help create a vision statement that integrates and speaks directly to the entire organization.
2. Project your goals for the future.
Imagine your company five or ten years down the line. The outcome you envision — your dream for the future, your success as a company — should be captured in the vision statement. Keep in mind that the statement should only include the vision, not an actual step-by-step plan for implementing solutions.
The following questions can help you clarify your vision:
- Where do we want the organization to go?
- What can we realistically achieve?
- What problem does the organization intend to solve?
- What are the changes we believe the organization can make for individuals? For the industry?
- How will things be different if the vision is realized?
- What phrases or keywords describe the type of organization and outcome we want?
3. Stick to the specifics.
A generic vision statement — one that sounds like it could apply to any company — will not be enough to motivate your team. Vision works best when it’s specific and describes an end goal only your organization can provide. Don’t be afraid to dream big. A lukewarm vision will only yield lukewarm results. So it’s important to be bold, and even risky, when writing your vision statement.
4. Keep it short and simple.
While it should be specific, a vision statement shouldn’t be overly detailed. It should be concise. Start by jotting down all of your ideas, and then pare those down to the essentials. Keeping just one or two key points helps create a clear vision that’s easy for everyone to focus on and fulfill. Stay away from technical terms and jargon, and use the present tense. Rather than trying to write something catchy, aim for clarity. A great vision statement works best when it’s simple, memorable, and inspirational.
Revisit your vision often as your company evolves.
A vision statement sets an organization’s sights on the future. However, once that future is reached, the vision needs to continue moving forward. Your vision statement is a living document, not a set of static sentences. It plays an important part in your overall strategic plan for a certain time frame. It should therefore be regularly updated to reflect your organization’s current purpose.
Constantly communicate your vision.
Once you have a vision statement that articulates your end goal, make sure it’s clearly communicated. A vision is more effective when your entire organization takes it to heart. Commit the proper resources and time toward realizing the vision you’ve set. This can mean investing in seminars and training or launching a new product. It can also include offering the lowest possible prices, entering new markets, or exploring other areas of opportunity. A good way to help everyone align with a company's vision statement is by inviting them into the process. Ask for employees’ input, and suggest ways to incorporate the vision into their work. Then, make sure to recognize or reward individuals for their standout contributions.
Vision statement examples.
Sometimes, seeing what works for notable companies is just the inspiration you need to create your own vision statement. Below are some inspiring vision statements from today’s top companies:
Concept-based vision statements.
Some vision statements are based on concepts of what the company hopes to be or achieve in the future. This can be a general statement focused on customers, or a position the company wants to hold within the industry. Below are a few examples of concept-based vision statements:
- BBC: “To be the most creative organization in the world”
- Disney: “To make people happy.”
- Google: “To provide access to the world’s information in one click”
- IKEA: “To create a better everyday life for the many people”
- Instagram: “Capture and share the world’s moments”
- LinkedIn: "Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce”
- Microsoft: “To help people throughout the world realize their full potential”
- Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”
- Oxfam: “A just world without poverty”
- Shopify: “To make commerce better for everyone”
- Sony: "To be a company that inspires and fulfills your curiosity.”
- TED: “Spread ideas”
- Tesla: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”
- Uber: “We ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion”
- Whole Foods: “To nourish people and the planet.”
Quality-based vision statements.
Other common vision statements are focused on internal goals. These include the type of products and services the company hopes to provide as they grow. Quality-based vision statements can also relate to company culture and operations. The following are some examples from actual United States companies in different industries:
- Amazon: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
- Avon: “To be the company that best understands and satisfies the product, service, and self-fulfillment needs of women—globally.”
- Ben & Jerry’s: “Making the best ice cream in the nicest possible way”
- Ford: “People working together as a lean, global enterprise to make people’s lives better through automotive and mobility leadership.”
- IBM: “To be the world’s most successful and important information technology company. Successful in helping our customers apply technology to solve their problems. Successful in introducing this extraordinary technology to new customers. Important because we will continue to be the basic resource of much of what is invested in this industry.”
- McDonald’s: “To move with velocity to drive profitable growth and become an even better McDonald’s serving more customers delicious food each day around the world.”
- Nordstrom: “To serve our customers better, to always be relevant in their lives, and to form lifelong relationships”
- Starbucks: “To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.”
- Warby Parker: “We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket. We also believe that everyone has the right to see.”
- Zappos: “To provide the best customer service possible. Deliver 'WOW' through service”
Keep a clear vision.
Even if it’s just a few sentences, a vision statement provides a lot of value. Not only does it outline the company’s desired outcome, but it can communicate intentions and hopes for the future. The best part is that a vision statement changes with your organization. When a vision is reached or updated, it’s time to create a new vision statement. This encourages everyone toward greater goals, and opens your company to more possibilities.