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How to write a vision statement – a guide for SMEs

Business owner talking to their employee

As a business owner, you’ll usually have a clear idea of your business’s purpose but it isn’t always easy to explain. This doesn’t mean the service you provide or the product you sell – it’s about your business’s aspirations and goals.

A vision statement helps communicate this in a way that’s compelling to your employees and works as a reference point in your decision-making. Keep reading to find out what makes a great vision statement and why they’re so important for your business.

What is a vision statement?

A vision statement is a short, simple way of communicating your company’s long-term goal as well as its impact on the world. They’re designed to be aspirational but achievable.

And it’s important to remember a vision statement is a top-level view of your company goals. It shouldn’t be too closely related to things like sales or revenue.

It’s a way of describing your common goal to employees and stakeholders in a way that motivates and engages them.

This isn’t always easy to do. Trying to summarise your company’s values and ambitions in one statement is difficult, but you’ll get a better idea after looking at some great examples from other businesses.

It’s a good idea to include your vision statement somewhere on your website, whether that’s as part of an ‘About’ page or you have a full page dedicated to your mission and values. Our guide on how to make a website has some useful tips.

Vision statement examples – what makes a great one?

Looking at how other companies have approached their vision statements can help you get started with your own.

Affordable furniture company IKEA’s vision statement is a great example: “To create a better everyday life for the many people”.

It’s concise, ambitious, and simple. It also doesn’t focus on its products or anything too specific. It’s an aspirational statement that captures the impact IKEA is striving towards as a brand.

Another excellent example of a vision statement is from Google: “To provide access to the world’s information in one click”. Considering the size of a company like Google, the statement still manages to be ambitious.

But you can get a vision statement wrong if it doesn’t align with your purpose or feel realistic to your goals, it can have a negative effect.

In 2013, fast food company KFC’s vision statement was: “To provide food in a quick, pleasant setting that caters to cost-conscious, health-conscious people”, which doesn’t represent KFC’s purpose well.

A vision statement that isn’t in keeping with your company’s values or purpose won’t have the desired effect. It can come across as dishonest and won’t be engaging for your employees. Writing a vision statement that feels true to your aspirations as a business is crucial to it being effective.

Difference between a vision and mission statement

They’re regularly confused but there are differences between vision and mission statements. A mission statement explains what your business does, why it exists, and what you offer to your customers.

To compare with the previous example, IKEA’s mission statement is: “IKEA offers a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at low and accessible prices.”

When compared to their vision statement, “To create a better everyday life for the many people”, you can see there’s a difference in length and style. The mission statement is longer and covers the specifics of what the business offers. While the vision statement is shorter and focused on a much broader goal.

Another difference is that a mission statement is often used externally as well as internally, meaning it could be used on social media accounts and in marketing.

A vision statement is usually for internal use, predominantly for employees and stakeholders to understand the overall vision and ambition of the company.

Why is it important to have a vision statement?

The importance of a vision statement depends on how effectively you use it. It shouldn’t be written and then forgotten about, it should be used as a reference point in your decision-making.

In recruitment, for example, referring to your vision statement and company values can help you make a decision. If your company’s purpose is about innovation, you should make sure to look for applicants with experience of introducing innovative ideas. And that employee is more likely to match your culture and contribute to your business positively – helping to boost employee retention.

Vision statements are important for engaging your employees with your business goals. Businesses that have high aspirations become more desirable to current and future employees who share the ambitions of the company.

It’s also helpful to think about your long-term goals regardless of the size of your business. Whether you’re recruiting, pitching, or just starting – being able to communicate the value and purpose of your business will always be useful.

Have you tried writing a vision statement? Share it with us in the comments below.

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Tinashe N/stock.adobe.com

Zach Hayward-Jones

Zach Hayward-Jones is a Copywriter at Simply Business, with seven years of writing experience across entertainment, insurance, and financial services. With a keen interest in issues affecting the hospitality and construction sector, Zach focuses on news relevant to small business owners. Covering industry updates, regulatory changes, and practical guides.

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