There are many websites dedicated to the writing of Vision, Mission and Values Statements. Some of them very good. (I recommend 3 Statements That Can Change the World: Mission/Vision/Values for an excellent breakdown). I do not wish to ‘re-invent the wheel’ in this regard. However, there is much question as to WHY to do such a thing. Although useful for serving in the writing of your business plan, these documents can, and should be so much more.
For small businesses and Entrepreneurs, these statements can be very personal. There is even an argument to be made for writing your own personal Values, Mission and Vision statements. It’s important that you take the time necessary to think about these in some depth. Be honest with yourself, and write them down.
Often, tutorials will teach you to begin with your Vision statement. However, I recommend that you instead begin with your Values Statement, and hopefully, you’ll see why.
Values Statements – Why
Values statements are often overlooked. They articulate what you wish for your business to hold true. Every employee of your business is expected to believe and act on these values, and perhaps right now, this is just yourself. But really, beyond professional conduct and customer service, what is it that requires articulating?
You will hear many business speakers and entrepreneurs talking about the importance of your ‘Why”. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend watching Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk – Start with Why
Your ‘Why’ is possibly the single most effective indicator of your success. It becomes the measuring stick by which all of your business activities may be measured, and it is the spark which will drive you forward when you question your path. Your ‘Why’ is, in other terms, the underlying purpose of your business, it is your reason for being, and it is articulated in your values.
It is your values with which your customers and clients will identify, and which will set you apart from others. They will guide you in your growth and forward projection into the world. When having to make decisions, your values will help you determine which choice is a better fit for your company.
Typically, the values described in the values statement are described as prescriptions for beliefs and behaviours held by the company/organization that must be reflected by its employees. These values will provide a compass for your business decisions, but also help you to identify what it is your business aims to accomplish.
In the case of Entrepreneurs, these beliefs prescriptions are your own. These values will be made manifest in the way you carry out your business. For example, I have found that I value flexibility in both my work schedule and for my clients. This means that I have to be prepared for varied work hours, communication methods and learning new software and tools for managing client tasks. This has directly resulted in my choice to work in a virtual environment, to schedule time and budget for training, and to be open to communicating with my clients during evenings and weekends in addition to traditional business hours. You may value a strict work schedule, and so your policies surrounding these areas will be different.
Typically, you will have five to seven values that are really core to your professional presentation. Articulating these clearly will allow for the effective development of policies and decisions that are in alignment with your goals. Your Values Statement will be that upon which you build the foundation of your business, and thus your Vision and Mission statements will follow from these.
Mission Statement – How
Your mission statement outlines what you DO. For entrepreneurs and small business owners, this is really where you identify what it is you can contribute to your community. In a lot of cases, this is what we do well enough to consider starting our own business doing it. We have something to offer the world, so offer it.
The decision to start a business in a particular field often feeds off of your values. You will want to reflect this in your mission statement.
For example, I value natural wellness modalities, and making holistic medicine readily available to the public. I am quite good with numbers, categorization and writing, and I genuinely want wellness professionals to do well. My mission statement therefore emphasises what I DO to help wellness professionals do their job. “The Art of Balance provides quality bookkeeping and administrative support services to support wellness professionals.” It is not complicated, but it doesn’t need to be.
Not only does articulating your Mission statement express to others what you do, but also directs your own activities. In the above example, I can you use my mission statement to identify whether I want to engage with a new client, or whether a particular task is something I am willing to take on. Again, there are very practical instances where having a well-articulated statement can help in the decision making process on a day to day basis.
Vision Statement – What
Often, business will start by outlining their vision statement, and for good reason. The Vision statement is where you can really express your vision of a better world. Here, we have started by identifying our particular strengths that we can contribute and so we are well-equipped to identify an ambitious but attainable goal for ourselves and our business that is in line with our values and capabilities.
Vision statements outline a state of affairs that we can aspire to. Goals are important! They help us measure our effectiveness – the difference between what was and what can be. They help us to differentiate between projects that are relevant and those that are not. What difference do we want to make? Is the time we’re spending on any particular task or project worth the time we’re spending on it? Is this a task I need to do myself, or can I delegate it to another? Is there something I can be doing that I am not? Your Vision statement can open a space for brainstorming new approaches to your goal by removing the limitations on what you already do, to what you can do.
These three statements are not static. Once you’ve established your small business, you may find that your values change, your abilities expand, or your picture of a better world changes. You can use these three statements to identify changes you wish to make moving forward, or to describe a situation that is already the case but not fully recognized.
It’s a good idea to revisit these statements regularly, perhaps yearly or even monthly to maintain awareness of the health of your business, and to continue to direct your business towards those opportunities and situations that you desire. Use them as measures of performance, and as a context for planning future projects.
In this way, you will ensure that your business is a reflection of what you wish to manifest in the world.