How to Create a Vision & Mission for a Small Business

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Businesses write vision and mission statements to articulate and communicate their company's purpose for being in operation. They differ in that a vision statement describes the anticipated future results of a company's actions, while a mission statement describes the intentions and goals of a company's current actions. Written vision and mission statements are generally included in a company's business plan, on a company's website, in corporate backgrounder information and in annual reports and similar formal documents. Although the particular form vision and mission statements take varies widely, you can create a vision and mission statement for a small business following standard guidelines.

Generate initial ideas for your company's vision. Speculate on the positive impact your business may have on society after five or more years of successful operations. Focus on non-financial topics and on benefits beyond those to the business world. State the ideas as affirmative predictions in a form such as "our company plans to bring X benefit (or Y change) to the world through Z actions."

Refine your initial ideas. Rank the ideas according to how well each aligns with your actual business operations and future business plans. Write your final vision statement by including four to six of the top-ranked ideas written in one or two cohesive paragraphs.

List ideas for your company's mission. Mission statement ideas focus on your business's current operations and the industry in which it operates. Describe your company's corporate values, such as integrity or respect. Describe the role your business plays in your industry, such as being an innovator or a low-cost alternative. State the ideas as affirmative claims of the form "our business is committed to X corporate values" or "we strive to be the most Y company in our industry."

Narrow the list of ideas for your company's mission statement. Eliminate ideas that, though compelling, do not reflect the real-world state of your company's operations. Confirm that you can five specific examples supporting each of the final ideas. Write your final mission statement using four to six of the final ideas in one or two brief paragraphs.

Circulate the late draft of your vision and mission statement to trusted advisers and, if possible, key customers. Compare it to the business statements of competitors in your industry. When you have received and incorporated feedback, establish a final, approved version. Revisit the vision and mission statement at regular intervals to ensure that it continues to depict your business accurately.

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