We often hear that advisors should create mission and vision statements for their businesses. I agree, but with one caveat.
Before dedicating time and resources to craft those statements, start with an exercise to determine or clarify your values. After all, if you craft a mission or vision statement that is not in line with your core values, the statement is of no value.
In this article, I will explain how to create values statements, mission statements and vision statements to best achieve your goals.
Why start with values?
Values provide a moral compass, helping leaders and employees make better decisions in both good times and bad. I encourage you to focus on these values when dealing with prospects, clients, service providers and wholesalers. Incorporate your company’s values into the recruiting process so you can add team members who share the same values as you and the company.
If you don’t already have a value statement, one place to start is this detailed list of suggestions. I suggest you narrow your list down to the top three to five values in order to maintain focus.
Depending on your situation, it may be wise to include all primary team members when determining your company’s values. Going through this process is an eye-opening experience as well as a team-building exercise.
For example, one of my close colleagues told me her personal values are family, friends, happiness, health and helping others. This same person developed a list of values for her advisory business and charitable work: cooperation, creativity, fairness, integrity and helping others.
Creating a mission statement
A corporation’s mission statement is the single most important public-facing tool it has. As with the list of values, a mission statement provides guidance for behavior toward customers.
A mission statement should be short, simple, memorable and inspiring.
For example, Bill Gates’ mission statement is, “All lives are equal.” At this time in his life, he is living out his mission through philanthropic pursuits by helping those who are in need.
You might be thinking that this is a life philosophy, not a mission statement. But a mission statement is simply what inspires you and your team. There is no right or wrong mission statement.
The mission statement you craft should be full of passion. If you are ho-hum about your mission, how will you inspire others to partner with you in your mission?
Every mission requires action, so every mission statement requires verbs. A detailed list of action verbs can be found here.
Narrow your final list of action verbs to the top three to five words.
Here is one colleague’s list of action verbs: create, encourage, inspire and unite.
As with the values exercise, going through the mission exercise with your partners or team members is a terrific team-building activity. It tells how each person experiences the various words on the list. Be open to the discussion that ensues.
Putting it all together
My colleague came up with the following mission statement:
My mission is to encourage, inspire and unite non-profit organizations focused on developing equitable opportunities for women.
The mission of Natural World Supplements is to provide quality nutritional solutions to help improve the health of our customers. All of our products are manufactured in the USA in a GMP/FDA inspected and approved facility ensuring only the highest-quality products.
Here is a format you can use for your mission statement.
Our mission is to:
____________________, ____________________, and ____________________ (your verbs)
____________________, ____________________ (your core value or values)
to, for or with ____________________. (the group or cause which most moves/excites/inspires you).
If your mission statement does not move, excite or inspire you, rework it until it does.
The difference between mission and vision statements
Many clients have asked for clarification between mission statements and vision statements. The best definition I have found is in Laurie Beth Jones’ book The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life.
While a mission statement is centered around the process of what you need to be doing, a vision statement is the end result of what you will have done. It is a picture of how the landscape will look after you’ve been through it. It is your “ideal.” It is more about the what and when rather that the why and how.
Your vision statement is the force that will sustain you when your mission statement seems too heavy to endure, enforce or engage. All significant changes and inventions began with a vision first.
Creating a vision statement
Some people begin developing their vision statement by taking stock of their current situation and deciding if it is where they want to be. Knowing what you don’t want is helpful in determining what you do want.
A compelling vision statement must be:
- Extremely detailed, not leaving anything to chance
- Written in present tense, as if it is already being accomplished
Clearly articulated vision and mission statements can be important magnets and filtering devices when it comes to attracting employees and selecting customers.
Once you have formulated your vision, a new kind of work begins: the important task of keeping that vision dominant in your mind. This takes conscious mental discipline.
What manifests is what we really believe, not what we would like to believe. If you had taken truth serum, would you honestly believe in your vision, or would you think it was created by someone other than yourself?
After creating mission and vision statements, what are the next steps?
- Create your goals: Boil down your mission and vision statements into goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
- Prioritize your goals: Most people want to accomplish everything as soon as possible. Don’t fall into the trap of overextending yourself and your team.
- Delegate: As the leader, you are not in this alone. Your team members want to be involved in reaching the company’s goals, especially if they were involved in developing them.
- Review: Review your progress on a regular basis. Develop a review plan. This might mean that you review your goals on a quarterly basis while reviewing action steps on a weekly basis.
Soon you will be looking back at your accomplishments, seeing how your planning and hard work got you where you wanted to be.
Advisors often think that working through these subjective exercises is a waste of time. I disagree. The effort you devote to this task provides clarity for other areas of your business, such as developing your ideal client profile, your menu of services and your investment philosophy. These, and many more aspects of your business, are built upon the solid foundation of values, mission and vision statements.