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What Are Vision and Mission Statements and Why Having Them Is Essential

What Are Vision and Mission Statements and Why Having Them Is Essential

By Pat Flynn on

In business, just as in life, it’s important to have an understanding of who you are, where you’re going, what you want to achieve, and why you want to get there. You need to have goals, and those goals need to serve an overarching purpose. But, to get there, it takes effort.

That’s why having a solid vision and mission statement for your business (and yourself!) is important. Let’s quickly define what those are:

  • Vision Statement: A Vision Statement is about the future. It defines the ideal future state for you/your business. It’s about what you are striving for and how you envision yourself once you complete your mission.
  • Mission Statement: A Mission Statement defines what you or your business are about in the present. It is action-oriented, determining what your business does, who it serves, and how it does what it does. It is the action you take now to fulfill your vision.

I like Warby Parker’s mission statement, which speaks to their culture and philanthropic aim:

“Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.”

And a good (and out of this world!) example of a mission-vision statement combination would be from one of my favorite companies, SpaceX:

“SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.”

To live on other planets. Now that’s just awesome. Sign me up for Mars!

Now, when it comes to me and Smart Passive Income, the truth is that I’ve never specifically set out to create what some might call a vision or mission statement. But that’s not to say I don’t have one. Take a look at my homepage on SmartPassiveIncome.com, for example. It says that I’m “the crash test dummy of online business.” And, below that, “My experiments will show you how to build an ethical business fueled by passive income.”

These ideas have been with me from the very start of SPI. They mean the world to me, and are at the core of who I am and what SPI is all about. Sound like a mission statement? Because it is!

So, with that said, the mission statement for Smart Passive Income is this:

To teach others how to build an ethical and smart business fueled by passive income.

From the beginning, I wanted to serve my audience first, and lead by example, providing fellow entrepreneurs with the opportunity to learn from my personal experience—both the ups and downs—to help inform their own journeys. That has been the mission of SPI all along.

As for the vision statement, this is a work in progress.

That is really what this blog post is about. It’s to help us (me included!) think more critically about our vision and mission statements for ourselves and for the businesses we run. What is at your core? And how does that inform your vision for yourself and your company? These are the questions we should be asking ourselves.

Let’s start here:

Have you created a mission statement for yourself, for your business? Have the goals you created helped you progress toward fulfilling your ultimate vision?

In Will It Fly?, to help future business owners like yourself, I created what I called the Airport Test, which is a thought experiment to get you to think about your personal vision. In it, the reader is faced with a hypothetical scenario:

Imagine that you are five years in future, and you run into friend you haven’t seen in awhile. This friend asks how you are doing and you respond by saying that you are “amazing, life couldn’t be any better.”

I then ask: “What’s happening to you in five years that makes you respond that way?”

The test is designed to inspire you to start thinking about your future, and the components that can lead you to a successful future in business.

So, how would you answer that question?

To help inspire some thought, here are a few responses I received from readers who went through the Airport Test exercise:

If you do the paper airplane exercise (The Airport Test), you will really see what’s really important to you and you can make sure that you never do anything that takes you off of your path! – Jeff

My favorite section, so far, is the airport test which has already been helpful with important life decisions. I no longer feel guilty standing my ground because I know what I truly want. – Jessica

The best part of the book so far has been the Airport Test, I have it with me and review it daily since I don’t think I need to wait 5 years to START living many of those statements, it just means giving myself permission to do so. – Denise

Now it’s your turn. How would you answer that hypothetical question? Where will you be in five years?

If you’ve run through this Airport Test, I’d love to hear from you in the comments how it went and if you gained any new insight from it!

Why Having a Vision and Mission Statement is Essential

A Vision Statement is the place you want to be, the place you’re striving for. A Mission Statement defines who you are, what your goals are, what you’re doing now. To me, it’s essential to have both.

But it’s also important to recognize that there is room for flexibility. Life changes, goals change, circumstances change, so it makes sense that your vision and mission statements could potentially change—completely or revised—as well. So be open to that. That’s okay!

As I mentioned before, my Vision Statement is still a work in progress, but I will share it here for you:

To own the entire package. Having control of that, and through leading by example, showing others how to do the same. By owning the entire package, I mean being able to grow and scale several businesses that have a direct major impact on the lives of others, staying present with my family, especially my kids, and being able to teach them, and other children in this world, about adopting an entrepreneurial mindset to help them through living happier lives, with more impact.

I will continue to hone my Vision Statement, but this is what it is today. I think, once I nail it down, I will write another blog post about it. Sound good? Onward and upward!

The key thing I’ll leave you with is this:

You don’t need to have your vision and mission statements right now, but you should be working on them. Why? Because we can learn as many strategies as we want, we can build businesses that make money, but unless we know what those foundational elements are—the vision and mission statements—we’re just going to be heading down a direction that we ultimately don’t want to be. It might be fun at the time that we’re building it, but if we don’t consider foundation up front, you might look back and say, “Wow, I did all of these things that actually didn’t help me get to where I want to go.”

Remember also to make sure your goals are within the realm of possibility. I’m not saying you shouldn’t dream. Dreamers are folks like my hero, Elon Musk. You should dream, but you should also understand your strengths and limitations. Each year is a blank slate, a fresh start, so don’t feel defeated. You can do whatever you put your mind to. I believe in you.

Finally, before I go, in this week’s episode of the Smart Passive Income Podcast, I sit down with Michael Hyatt to discuss creating a “Life Vision Plan.” Michael is the master when it comes to goal-setting and achieving, so I highly recommend you check out that episode when it drops on Wednesday.

And if you took part in the Airport Test, and you feel up for it, please take a moment to post your personal/business mission statement in the comments section below! I know we’d all love to see them, and be inspired by them.

Thank you, and I appreciate you!

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