Vision, mission, and values : How mainstream is that, and what do these three have to do with marketing? Why understanding How to write a vision statement is going to help you grow your business? And why do you even need to think about them? Is culture actually a priority for a startup?

Well, let's just say that moving forward blindfolded it's not such a good idea. Nowadays, there are millions of startups. Thinking that your product is the only one in the market is like saying yes to your "startup's death sentence". The entrepreneurial world is evolving, and so is the startup world.

Most startup owners think of culture as a "nice to have feature" and not a tool to inspire and motivate, channelizing all their energy on marketing the product/service. But many times, their marketing efforts fail. The most obvious reason is the wrong market fit. Yet another one, as important as the first, is the lack of authenticity. An important part of your startup's success is to step out of the crowd and find out what sets you apart from similar businesses. And culture is what gives a business a unique trait. It is what makes your startup stick, and customers emotionally connect with it. Company culture has a huge impact on your marketing efforts, customer churn, and employee retention.

As Michael Skok states in Harvard Innovation Labs:

"Culture is like the operating system to run your apps."

It is the foundation of all your efforts and what you project to the outside world. It will help you in hiring the most suitable colleagues and creating your own brand.

By spelling out your culture, you can define your company's mindset and market your product or service to its full capabilities. It will help you shape your team, your clients will understand your business goals, and in difficult moments it will keep your focus on track.

So let's go together on a journey of checking some examples of vision statements and mission statements of companies and understanding How to write a vision statement and how to conduct a mission statement workshop.

1. What is a vision statement?

2. What is a mission statement?

3. Examples of vision and mission of companies

4. How to write a mission statement

5. How to write a vision statement

6. Mission & vision statement canvas

7. How to run a mission statement workshop

8. Conclusion

1. What is a vision statement?

The vision statement represents the ideal future state of your business and the impact it can have on your clients. Think about it as the world that you want to build together with your customers. How will your customer's life change, in the long term, if he/she uses your product or service? How will their life change if you fulfill your vision statement?

Your vision statement presents an idealistic state of being, but not a hallucination. You should pay attention to create a close link between the evolution of the market and the future of your business. A bit of market research on your niche comes in handy.

Having an inspiring vision means that you know where you're heading. Without it it's like you're on a boat in the sea and you don't know where the land is. The perfect vision statement is like a navigation compass and sometimes even like knowing how to read the stars while at the sea. The road unfolds itself. But don't forget, having a clear direction doesn't mean anything if you're not putting in place a successful strategy execution.

2. What is a mission statement?

The mission statement is the core purpose of the business. If the vision statement defines a future state, the mission shifts the focus towards the present moment. The mission represents the reason why your company came to life in the first place. It is the sum of actions that your team makes, in the present moment, to grow and deliver value to your customers.

The company mission statement should be inspirational enough to connect people, and pretty straightforward for your customers to understand how you can help them. At this point, having a well-defined USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and knowing your Buyer Persona can facilitate the whole process.

3. Examples of vision and mission of companies

Before moving further on and working on how to write a vision statement and a mission statement, let's take a look at some vision and mission statement examples:

Tesla

Tesla's mission: To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy.

Tesla's vision: To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world's transition to electric vehicles.

American Express

American Express's mission: Become essential to our customers by providing differentiated products and services to help them achieve their aspirations.

American Express's vision: Provide the world's best customer experience every day.

Warby Parker

Warby Parker's mission: Buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket. They also believe that everyone has the right to see.

Warby Parker's vision: Provide the world's best customer experience every day.

TED

TED's mission: Spread ideas.

TED's vision: We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives, and, ultimately, the world.

Digitalya

Digitalya's mission: Develop high-quality web and mobile apps.

Digitalya's vision: Help people achieve their dream of being successful tech entrepreneurs.

While working on your mission and vision have in mind these statement examples. See with which one you resonate more and even check their success stories. Make a strategic plan. Getting your business ready for a healthy growth is like preparing for a marathon. You have to consider some key resources for everyday life that will help you keep your energy level up and promote your brand's real image. Think about your mission statement and vision statement as the starting line of your race. What do you need to do to be fully prepared to start the journey?

cta-canvas-simple--1-

4. How to write a mission statement

When you start to work on defining your mission statement, you should constantly have the present moment in mind and three more elements: the team, the customer, and your product or service.

Step 1: Identify who you are as a business

The "Who we are" area's purpose is to define your business's mindset and get you connected with your team. Here you should identify the common business values that your team shares and the behaviors that endorse them.

If you don't have your company's core values defined yet, you can find a really cool process for defining them in the book Traction by Gino Wickman. You can also take a look at Digitalya's business values, just as an example.

For a better understanding of our mission and vision statement canvas, let's take an example. Let's say our company is named Color-it and you have a product that suggests what color palette to use for your designs, according to criteria like the brand's personality, the emotion you want to promote, and different design trends.

Because you put a great accent on the people on your team and their interests, your values are: "friendship comes first", "constant innovation" and "in love with art". Some of the activities that keep them alive are: "buddy coffee once per week", "attending tech & design conferences" and "attending art exhibitions".

m1-1

Step 2: Define the unique selling proposition

After you've defined your business values, it is important to state what your company does, and what's unique about it. Think about your business plans. Maybe even do a product tour before defining your Unique Selling Proposition. A well defined USP goes hand in hand with a good market segmentation, so take your time to identify what you do best.

m2-3

Step 3: Create the ideal buyer persona

In order to have a clear picture of how your business works, you must identify who will benefit from it, and where's your target market. Here you can take some characteristics from your Buyer Persona. If needed do some market research. It will also help you in identifying your product-market fit.

m3-3

Step 4: Write down why you established the business in the first place

After having the first three steps cleared out, the fourth one comes into play - the most important one in helping you define your mission statement. As we mentioned in the beginning, the mission represents your purpose of existence. Thinking about why you started the business in the first place will unblur the picture and help you figure out your purpose.

m4-3

Step 5: Create your mission statement

The last step is probably the hardest one. Take your time to analyze the first four to come up with your mission statement. Think about your team, your product, your customer, and ask yourself "why does my business exist in the first place?". What were you thinking when you decided to build the best product? Write your ideas and then create a single statement. Keep in mind that you will also use it in your marketing and communication efforts, so make it sound catchy.

m5-3

5. How to write a vision statement

The first step in shaping your vision statement is actually to write down your mission statement since the first one targets the future while the second talks about the present.

Now that you've identified your mission or the reason for existence, in the present moment, let's move a little bit further and try to figure out what impact you could have on your niche, industry, and why not the whole world. To define the company vision statement, keep the future in mind.

Start thinking about how you can make your vision statement authentic while aligning it with your business plans and core competencies. Make a vision for the future. People are tired of reading those soulless statements that hang on a wall and usually were created only to sound good. Nowadays, hearing the words mission and vision statement mostly makes everyone roll their eyes and focus on something else. And you can't blame them. Lots of companies got this wrong. Most of them only state what their business does and why they are cool [ * buzz words inserted mandatory * ], leaving their clients' needs and the team behind. They lack emotional connection, and they are definitely not "made to stick".

Let's take, for example, Wendy's. Their mission is "to deliver superior quality products and services for our customers and communities through leadership, innovation, and partnerships". What do you understand from this? How will their business satisfy your needs? And to be sure that everyone is on the same ground - Wendy's is a hamburger restaurant chain. Do you understand what shopping experience they are offering? Probably not. And others of the world's most respected brands fall in the same category. On the other side of the spectrum, though, you can check at point three how some nice vision statement look.

So let's step out of this superficial universe and go back to a world in which people come first. Having a well-defined culture that underlines the team's vision of the world, their core values, and real customer stories can have a huge impact inside the company and outside of it. Having business ideas is not enough; you need to give meaning to your company. Shaping your vision is an important process.

Step 1: Identify how your business will improve the life of your clients

The first step is to identify how your customer's everyday life will improve if he/she uses your product/service. What change will it bring to his/her life? What is your strategic plan from this perspective?

v1-3

Step 2: Define which emotions you would like to trigger in your clients when thinking of your brand

Getting your customers to emotionally connect with your brand is the only thing that keeps them not to run away to your competition. That's why thinking about what emotions you would like to trigger in your customer's heart is what defines your brand.

v2-3

Step 3: Determine your niche

The third step is about identifying your niche, industry, or area you would like to impact when you start to scale your business. More than this, you should think about what would be the result of more people using your product/service.

v3-3

2.4. Define the impact your business will have on the world in the long run

We came back to this important question that sums up the first three steps. When you defined your mission, you thought about the moment that you've decided to start your business. Now you should think about how would the world look like if everything works as you planned. Have in mind sustainability.

v4-4

2.5. Create your vision statement

Now give yourself permission to dream. What does your business aim to become? Where would your business be if everything went accordingly? How would the people that used your product/service change? Think about the impact that your business will have in ten years. Write down your ideas, make them pretty and give them meaning. Make sure that they inspire and motivate people. Having an inspiring vision helps you "move mountains".

v5-2

Congrats! You just created your mission and vision statement. If you want to see the whole picture and analyse the process you can download the example.

mission-vision-canvas-for-startups-example-final

The mission and vision statement that you've just defined should be present in your every action from now on. From the way you promote yourself, to how you talk to your clients and potential clients, and how your team perceives your business. So make sure that you will emphasize them inside and outside the company.

During the first iteration, you might not write the perfect version. Ask for feedback from your team, talk to your customers, ask them what they think and then make a difference by using them. They are not set in stone.

6. Mission & vision statement canvas

In our previous articles, we discussed the importance of creating a Unique Selling Proposition and a Buyer Persona for your business. Now we will see how we can connect those two with the mission & vision statement canvas.

The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and the Buyer Persona have a key role in defining the vision statement and the mission statement because they offer you a clear vision about why you do what you do and for whom you do it.

The USP outlines why someone will choose your business and not the competition, the main selling point you have. While the Buyer Persona represents a detailed description of your ideal buyer. These two represent the foundation of your vision statement and mission statement.

In the Mission & Vision Statement Canvas, we created a smooth process for developing these two while having in mind all the elements of the company culture.

Mission_Vision_Canvas_for_startups-1

If you want to take a closer look at the Mission & Vision Statement Canvas feel free to download it.

cta-canvas-simple--1-

7.How to run a mission statement workshop

Running a mission statement workshop was a pretty funny and rewarding process for us, in which we involved the whole team. During a two day workshop, we got to know our core values, working methods, and we defined how we can provide value to the world, as a team. It was enjoyable but also overwhelming. That's why we created a really awesome mission and vision canvas, that will help you accelerate the process, without losing the human connection or the fun part. After all, your mission should only highlight your authentic self and your contribution to the world.

I will share with you how to run a mission statement workshop from our experience.

You can think of this workshop as a teambuilding activity in which everybody shares his feelings regarding your company. It is important for the founders to be there, but also new people, so different opinions will be shared openly.

Logistics for the mission statement workshop:

  • post-it notes,
  • markers and pens,
  • flipcharts.

If the missions statement workshop is taking place online, you can use Miro to replace the post-it notes and flipcharts and Zoom or Google Hangouts for the video call.

Pre-workshop steps:

Step 1: Each of your team members writes their personal values.

Step 2: Everyone in the team writes what feelings pop-up in their heads when thinking about your company.

Mission statement workshop agenda:

Step 1: Everybody shares their personal values and their feelings regarding the company.

This is an important step for getting people connected with their feelings and present in the workshop.

Step 2: You discuss the company values and how you are nurturing them.

Step 3: You identify the company's unique selling proposition.

Step 4: You define your buyer persona.

Step 5: The founders share why they started the company.

Step 6: You brainstorm your company's mission.

Step 7: You get feedback from your clients and potential clients.

For the entire process, you can use our Mission & Vision Statement Canvas.

Conclusion

The road was long but filled with goodies. We hope that this article brought some light regarding how to write a vision statement and how to conduct a mission statement workshop.

While working on these two and defining your company culture, remember what Peter Thiel highlights in Zero to one:

" Company culture doesn't exist apart from the company itself: no company has a culture; every company is a culture. A startup is a team of people on a mission, and a good culture is just what that looks like on the inside."

We hope that the mission & vision canvas, as well as the examples and explanations, will be helpful for you in your journey. Let your creativity run wild, and enjoy the process!

Mission & Vision
canvas
Marketing for startups.
Less is more Methodology.
Download PDF