The vision statement for my first business was for a day spa I started in my early 20’s in Everett, Washington. I had a simple vision: “To provide a wholly organic and holistic spa experience for my customers.” I love spas and I prefer using organic products. The only spa in Everett, at the time, was huge but didn’t use organic products. I was on my own for the first time in my life with some college classes under my belt, a love for business and marketing, and my vision. I decided to provide an alternative and opened my smaller, organic spa just down the street from that larger one.
Imagine starting your first business and hitting six-figures in sales in your first year of operation.
Then, by the second year, seeing an increase in sales…of 440%!
It begins with a vision.
What is a Vision Statement?
The vision statement is what you want to do as a business. It is what you will reference whenever you make a decision. “To provide a wholly organic and holistic spa experience for my customers” was a simple statement that guided me to great success. Another business with a simple statement and an incredible legacy of success is The Disney Company. Well known around the world, Disney sums up their vision in one short sentence: “To make people happy.” This simple sentence is paraphrased from something Walt Disney said when he stated he wanted “to make people, especially children, happy.” This was Walt Disney’s guiding light. Today, it is a simple four word statement that successfully guides a multi-billion dollar empire. This is the power that a clear vision statement can exercise. This is why I place such significance on businesses developing a strong vision statement.
Your Business Organized Around Your Vision Statement
Your vision statement is the North Star that your business revolves around. Regardless if you are a large or small company, there will be disagreements among your team about important decisions that need to be made. If you have a vision statement for your company, it can, at best, settle the disagreement and come to a resolution. At worst, it can help jettison the parts of the discussion that aren’t aligned with the vision and break down the problem to its basic parts. Any action or decision that takes your business away from the road that leads to realizing your vision is a course that needs to be abandoned. Meandering in too many directions spreads your company resources thin. Having a business organized around a clear vision statement helps minimize this obstacle to your business success.
Creating Your Vision Statement
While on the surface it seems simple, crafting a statement can become an ordeal for many companies. This is because they struggle by making it overly detailed and complex. In the end, they miss the point of what it is supposed to do in the first place: focus and inspire. In the years since I started and left my day spa, I have learned several characteristics that make for great vision statements.
Make It Focused
Keeping your statement focused is a key element to its effectiveness. Ideally, it should be one to two sentences long and communicate only the information needed. Your statement should not meander. Its purpose is to quickly communicate what direction you and your team need to keep moving in.
Make It Inspiring and Ambitious
A vision statement like “We will make $1 million in our first year of operation” may seem motivating and ambitious, but think about that statement. One million dollars is a large sum of money. However, two-million dollars is an even greater amount of money. There isn’t much inspiration in a statement like that when there is something even bigger to aspire to. It is easier to remember Disney’s vision: “To make people happy.” It’s both inspiring and ambitious.
The inspiration in Disney’s statement comes from the idea of “making people happy.” Who doesn’t want to do things that make people happy? Those kinds of activities usually entail doing something fun and joining in. Being able to do something that creates happiness in oneself and in others is inspiring: it makes you want to continue doing that kind of work.
The ambition in Disney’s statement comes from its generalized audience. It does not point to specific “people.” It doesn’t specify the exact vehicle to use for making people happy such as the Disneyland Park in California or the movies or toys it releases. Disney is ambitious because the implication is they are endeavoring to make all people happy.
Related to ambition, a degree of impossibility has to be present in your statement. This is not meant to be hopeless. On the contrary, this aspect of the “impossible” should be something that you and your employees should continue to reach for. Put another way, your vision statement is something that should keep you motivated to keep going.
Keep It Succinct
The final characteristic of your statement is that it should be easily remembered. “To make people happy,” is four words long, but is memorable and carries a great amount of weight. Make it short and memorable. At the same time, preserve the ambition and inspiration behind the statement. This will make it easier for the statement to guide you and your team when looking for direction.
Final Thoughts on the Vision Statement
The vision statement is for you and your company to look at when you want to stay on point. Whether you are a new entrepreneur, a seasoned business owner, or someone in between, you have your own idea of what inspires you and what your ambitions for your business are. You possess the elements to create a statement that can greatly benefit your business.
I will close with this thought: A mission without a vision statement is dead, regardless of the size and scope of your firm. A simple vision statement has guided the direction of a multi-billion dollar enterprise like Disney for decades. If that is too big of a scope, go back to my story about my day spa:
A simple vision statement guided me as a young entrepreneur.
I used that to take on a business larger than my own.
It was instrumental in helping me achieve that initial 440% increase in sales.
Having a vision statement works.