Lately, I’ve spent some time exploring the company mission and vision “concept”. Both are important concepts I believe, but I rarely see them being used properly in young companies.
This article explores it more in detail. I agree with the article that mission and vision statements are often incorrectly used interchangeably, and it proposes the following definition which I like:
“Your mission statement focuses on today; your vision statement focuses on tomorrow”.
To make this more specific, let’s have a look at how Amazon work with mission and vision statements correctly:
Amazon’s Mission: We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.
Amazon’s Vision: To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
Why is it important with these things, you might ask? Isn’t this obvious? I would argue against.
A company’s mission statement helps them in all communication - internal as well as external - with regards to whether any given activity is within or outside scope. Should we do x? Yes - if it leads to us better fulfilling our mission.
A company’s vision statement, I’d argue, is even more important - as it sets direction for the company. This is especially important in young companies - but at the same time much harder to establish. Very early on you don’t really know what your company’s target is, as it’s not always obvious what problem the company will solve.
Once it’s somewhat established what problem a company will solve, I would strongly propose articulating a vision. Maybe something like Tesla’s first ten year plan. Something that clearly communicates to the whole company what the company will become.
Having a vision in place reduces the risk of company complacency - that the apetite for growth stops once break-even is reached. Articulate a clear vision for the company, and chances you end up building something meaningful increase.