Even a hurried inquiry into entrepreneurship will yield the following terms: mission, vision, and values. These terms collectively serve as the governing force of your business.
Considering these statements in their simplest form, your vision is the "what?" question of your business, your mission is the "why?" and your values are the "how." Two prevailing functions of these statements are both defining and guiding your business.
To expound on these meanings, consider first the vision statement. The vision statement creates a portrait of your company in the future, an end if you will. What do you want to achieve through your business? How do you plan to affect change and truly make a difference?
Business is a powerful vehicle that has historically been known to influence both geopolitical and social landscapes. The magnitude of your vision does not have to be of that scale. However, it is important to note that the vision statement strongly defines the direction of your business.
To provide an example, consider the vision statement of my company, Eastern Isles Teas and Tonics. My company specializes in the distribution of its product line of loose leaf teas. Its vision statement reads: To serve as a catalyst of change in helping save the environment. To promote health, well being, and actualization. To facilitate a greater awareness of tea and its many nuances. Again, ponder what you seek to achieve through your business.
Your mission statement is your business’s declaration of purpose. Why does your business exist? The mission statement helps guide the business to the ultimate realization of its vision. For an example of a mission statement, I will provide that of Eastern Isles Teas and Tonics.
The mission statement reads: To bring to life the magical realm of the Eastern Isles wherein our customers can delight in the world’s finest teas, nurturing physical health, spiritual well being and concurrently applying that very healing spirit to the welfare of the planet.
In that single statement, we make clear our effort to create a unique consumer experience, serve the consumer’s physical and spiritual health while simultaneously aiding the environment.
Finally, having a list of values is critical in defining your company’s guiding principles. Values permeate all aspects of your business’s operation, be it an interaction between employees or an interaction between an employee and a customer. The values of a company dictate its nature of operation, both at an individual level and as a collective unit.
Eastern Isles’ values are: integrity, social responsibility, growth, and innovation. The company honors the value of integrity through maintaining honest relationships with customers and suppliers.
We honor the value of social responsibility through our environmental tithing efforts. The company is always seeking to grow and in that effort, while constantly striving to develop innovative and fresh products and services.
In defining these statements, keep it simple. Do not strive to make these statements smart or catchy. It is most important to keep these statements honest and remember that they will serve as the foundation of your organization.
Arthur Ebeling is the founder and CEO of Eastern Isles Teas and Tonics (www.EasternIsles.com). You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2008, Young Money Media, LLC