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Vision and Mission Statement: The Real Difference

“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”

Alvin Toffler

Here’s the conclusion to this blog post right up front: vision and mission are not the same thing. And yes, you need to define both of them.

In a previous post, we talked about the importance of a purpose statement. Unfortunately, there is lots of clutter and misunderstanding about the purpose of all three: purpose, vision and mission for your business. Remember, the purpose statement outlines “why” you are doing what you do.

Vision, however, is the “what” that defines what you want your business to do and what you want to accomplish.

And then there is the mission…the “how” that defines how you will accomplish your vision and how you will fulfill your purpose.

If you are the owner of a small or midsize business, it is likely you’ve sat through more than one creative brainstorming session with your key folks. You have probably tried to work on a mission statement for the business. Or, maybe you worked on a vision statement. Or perhaps you thought they were one and the same thing!

Did you see the look of confusion on some of your colleagues’ faces? What IS our mission? What’s the criteria? How is it different from the vision statement?

We’ve all been there before and below we will outline the difference between vision and mission and where to start.

Start Your Journey with the Vision

Of course before starting any journey you should know the why (the purpose) behind your trip first. So, that being said let’s begin the journey… like most trips that you embark upon, you have a destination in mind. You know what you want to do and you will most likely tell the others who are traveling with you, right?

That is your business “vision statement.”  The others who travel with you are your employees and your customer and you want to let them know where things are headed as well. ClearVoice says it simply: The vision statement focuses on tomorrow and what the organization wants to become.

Your vision statement should focus on what you want your company to become. Ask yourself: What problem are we trying to solve? Where do we want our business to go and who do we want it to serve?

In short, your vision statement will define the direction for your company.

Internally, a vision statement can help define performance standards, guide employee decision making and set ethical standards. It can paint a picture for everyone. Externally, the vision can bridge communication between customers, suppliers, and other partners.

But in the end, a vision statement alone is not enough. You will also need to tell the world just exactly how you plan on accomplishing your lofty goals. And that’s where a mission statement comes in.

Planning Your Journey is the Goal of the Mission

Your mission statement should be the followup answer to your vision statement. How will you change lives? Can you accomplish your goal? Will you know when you are successful?

Author and speaker David Burkus says mission statements are also the place where you can talk about the products or services you have that will help you get to your goals. What are the objectives and goals that will show you are successful?

A bit more explanation is fine in your mission statement, as it is outlining the method of how you will accomplish your vision.

Some Real Life Examples of Vision and Mission

Here are some examples of how some large companies have handled the distinction well between vision and mission:

Company: Patagonia
Vision: A love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them, and to help reverse the steep decline in the overall environmental health of our planet.
Mission: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

Company: TED
Vision: We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.
Mission: Spread ideas.

Company: ADP
Vision: Be the world’s authority on helping organizations focus on what matters.
Mission: Power organizations with insightful solutions that drive business success.

Mission and Vision: Separate but Important Statements

Vision and mission are most certainly not the same thing and both are important

It’s true they are and should be related to the goal of taking you along your strategic marketing journey. But there are other preparations along the way that will allow you to accomplish a solid marketing foundation.

Are you wondering if you have all the basics? If you are, try taking our quick free marketing assessment quiz and find out a little bit more about what you can do to make sure you don’t have any major gaps in your marketing foundation. We’d love to help you get started on the right path for your own strategic marketing journey.

Tomato Fish Is An Indianapolis Consulting Company Focused On Helping Small And Midsize Businesses Make Good Strategic Planning Decisions.