What’s your vision? Featured

7:00pm EDT December 26, 2009

With unpredictable economic forecasts and the dynamics of health insurance and other costs weighing heavily on every business, it is critical now more than ever to build a strategic framework for your company.

Companies need to establish a framework that includes a mission statement, vision and values to achieve significant success. And, companies whose employees understand the mission and goals enjoy a greater return than other firms.

“Your company’s success will fluctuate with factors outside of direct control,” says Jessica Galardini, COO of JRG Advisors, the management company for ChamberChoice. “But with a clearly defined strategy, the fluctuation will be manageable.”

Not only that, Galardini adds, the company with employees who build personal and professional development around the company’s goals will stand head and shoulders above the competition.

Smart Business spoke with Galardini about some of the basic elements of a strategic framework.

What is a vision statement?

Many great business ideas turn into failures because the first and most important step in starting a business is overlooked: clearly defining the vision and your preferred future. The vision is the reason you are starting a business, or are in business. The vision statement answers what purpose your business serves and where you want to go in the future. Having a clear and concise vision statement is the foundation your business needs to prosper.

What should be accomplished with a vision statement?

A vision is a statement about what your company wants to become, and it incorporates your values and beliefs. It should resonate with your employees and help them to be proud, excited and part of something much larger than themselves. A vision is positive and inspirational, and it stretches the company’s capabilities and image to provide the shape of your future. The vision statement will act as an internal yardstick for you and employees to measure reality and progress.

What makes a mission statement different?

While vision statements and mission statements are similar, they are different. A mission statement is more concerned with the overall aim of the business, a simple statement of the company’s reason for being. Often the statement will include verbiage that makes a pledge to deliver a superior product or service to customers on a consistent basis. From this perspective, a mission statement is about maintaining a certain quality or attribute.

The vision statement, by contrast, is not about what the company currently is but what the company hopes to become. As an example, a vision statement may acknowledge that the company already meets industry standards in customer support, while at the same time setting goals for moving customer care to a higher level within a given time period.

The vision statement is a form of value statement. Value statements are simply an acknowledgment of the inherent worth of the company and the products it produces. Value statements are usually brief and to the point. In like manner, a vision statement also is intended to be no more than a couple of sentences that clearly outline a specific goal of the company, while not providing the details of how that goal will be reached. Thus, the vision statement provides the direction for the company, while not inhibiting the development of the strategy that will allow the company to reach that lofty goal.

A mission statement draws on the belief statements within the vision, but it is oriented to the present time portrayal of your company and employees. The mission will articulate your company’s fundamental purpose and, unlike the vision, it is shared with the public. Your mission will answer the question, ‘Why do we exist?’

What does a mission do for the company?

The mission ensures that everyone in the company is on the same page. It serves as the baseline for effective business planning, including team and individual goal-setting. Employees who see the vision and understand the mission are best equipped to define the objectives that achieve measured and quantified goals. Employees and the company realize full potential.

What should be expected from a strategic framework?

A strategic framework should consist of a vision for your future, a mission that defines what you are doing, values that shape your actions, strategies that zero in on your key success approaches, and goals and action plans to guide your daily, weekly and monthly actions.

A company’s success will depend on how well you define and live by your strategic framework. A strategic framework, including your vision and mission statements, will have significant influence on decision-making and the way to allocate resources. Take the time to articulate your dreams and hopes for the business. Remember what you are trying to build. Dare to dream and stay close to your core competencies. Make the commitment and expect the commitment of your employees. With full belief in the strategic plan, you will achieve a higher level of success and satisfaction. Finally, you will have distinguished your company and employees from other businesses.

JESSICA GALARDINI is the COO of JRG Advisors, the management company for ChamberChoice. Reach her at (412) 456-7231 or jessica.galardini@jrgadvisors.net.