To complement the self definitions that I have provided for the mission statement and a number of other general business terms, I will share my understanding of the vision statement from my experiences as an entrepreneur.
Defining the Vision Statement
The Book Definition
If you have ever taken a business 101 course or read an introductory business book, the vision statement is one of the first key terms defined because of its influence on the future trajectory of the company. From my recollection, the vision statement is commonly defined as:
“What a company or organization would like to accomplish or achieve in the long term”
The business course or book then continues on to talk about how the vision and the mission statement compare and contrast eventually leaving you with a very general understanding of how each impacts an organization.
Where the Traditional Definition Misses the Mark
While the above sentence is true, I argue that the vision statement deserves a much more detailed definition. The vision statement is much more than a simple list of achievements that you would like to accomplish. Rather, it is a glimpse into the future by the founder or founding team of a company.
The vision statement surpasses the present and projects the company into an unknown future where their organization is making a significant impact on their market. How it got there? Well that’s what strategic plans and hard work are for. Without the vision statement of who the company will become, the team lacks a reality to strive towards.
Do you think that Steve Wozniak would have built and made the personal computer a household phenomena without the vision of Steve Jobs?
Furthermore, do you think that the iPod, iPhone, iPad craze would have made its way into billions of hands without the vision of Steve Jobs?
A True Definition of the Vision Statement
As someone perplexed by the achievements of some of the most visionary individuals in history, the vision statement has always been a focus as I have built businesses. From my experience, I present a definition of the vision statement that dives past the surface and digs into why it exists and how it impacts an organization.
The vision statement is:
1. A Future Reality
- An in-depth description of who the company or organization will become over a certain time period, usually greater than 5 years. Vision statements can focus on short term, i.e. 1 to 3 years, but for the most part, they are a longer reaching, i.e. 5 to 20 years, depiction of who the company will become. The vision statement depicts a future reality in detail so that the team can determine the steps backwards to the present.
2. An External Marketing Tool
- A tool utilized by the Chief Executive Officer when recruiting, speaking with potential customers, and raising funding. When the CEO is asked the question, “where do you see the company in the next 5 years?”, they answer with the vision statement.
3. An Answer to “How?”
- An extension of the mission statement re-purposed to provide long term hope. If the mission statement explains and addresses WHY the company exists then the vision statement explains HOW the company will continue to fulfill its mission in the long term future.
4. A Constant Motivator
- A guiding force that stabilizes the company through the ups and downs that it experiences throughout its infancy and maturity as a new business. The vision statement serves as a constant reminder of where the company is headed and WHY you are performing your daily tasks.