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Business Mission, Vision, Values, and Purpose: How Do They Differ?

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I’m a strong believer in clarity of purpose in just about everything one does, but nowhere is it more essential than for running a business. It’s surprising then, how many entrepreneurs start a business without setting down their mission, values, purpose, and vision.

Then again, with all the confusion around what what these terms stand for, maybe it’s not so surprising.

So, let’s be clear about what were talking about, because there are many different variations on what mission, purpose, values and visions are. Here are the definitions as I use them with my clients (with credit to The Seven Stages of Small Business Success by Carl L. Gould).

Mission statement – Answers the question:

  • “Why does my business exist?”

It explains what you are here to do and whom you serve. It shows what is unique about your product, service or idea.

Vision statement – Answers the question:

  • “Where will we be in five, 10 or 20 years?”

A vision statement paints a picture of the future of the company in terms of finances, personnel, market share and other key achievements and qualities.

Values statement – Expresses how you hope your business will be remembered.

  • “What am I here to contribute?”

Once your customers have purchased your service or product, it should improve their lives in a measurable way. The values statement articulates your priorities and what you stand for.

Purpose statement – Answer the questions:

  • “What is it about this business that makes me jump out of bed in the morning or burn the candle at both ends at night?”
  • “Why is my service or product important and why is my success urgent?”

My challenge to you is to open a blank word document or take out a piece of paper and write down your answers right now. Depending upon the size of your company and structure, you may wish to bring in your advisor, executive team or a team consisting of a cross-section of your business to help you work through this over a series of meetings (off-sites are great for this exercise as well).

If you struggle with this, then you probably don’t have clarity for your business. Let me know if I can help, I’d love to speak with you.