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The 2 Components of Your Company Vision That You Can’t Miss

The service you offer or the product your company produces changes lives. Looking ahead, you have a big, inspirational goal to produce a measurable and sustainable impact on tens of thousands of people, and turn those dreams into an exhilarating vision of a better world.

But now comes the hard part: turning those dreams into reality. There's nothing more discouraging than a vision statement that turns into a virtual "shelf document." How do you turn aspirations into actions that are meaningful, worthwhile, and exciting? How do those actions positively impact both your company, and all the people whom you serve?

In a Harvard Business Review article, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras (authors of Built to Last) state that the two major components of highly successful company visions are a core purpose and core values. If you start with a passionate purpose that defines your WHY, and values that define your company's culture and impact, you're on the way to getting that vision statement off the shelf and into the hearts and minds of your team and your customers.

We'll look at how these two components impact your company vision, and then how to implement that vision so it has a tangible and lasting impact.

Identify authentic values

Your vision should be based on your company values. Not your aspirational values; the authentic values that you actually live by and hold dear. If you haven't identified those yet, now's the time. If you worked on your values a while ago, it may be time to revisit them.

Pull your team together and establish which values will stand the test of time, regardless of what other companies do and regardless of what's going on in your industry or the global markets.

Once you identify your company values, they need to pass the "sniff test." You don't want employees saying, "Who are they kidding? That's not a value around here!" You want to see heads nod yes, and eyes light up with excitement when you talk about your company values.

Why is it so important to identify your company's authentic values?

With values in hand it's easy to make decisions. You just know what to do about literally everything: from hiring to waste disposal to customer satisfaction. 

For instance, if a potential new hire doesn't resonate with your values, they won't share your passion either; they're probably not going to be a good fit for your company.

And please note this extremely important fact: your values drive company culture. The way you treat each other, the way you do business, and the way you interact with customers should all reflect your values.

This creates a cohesive environment in which everyone is working together to achieve the same goals. There's a sense of camaraderie and common purpose that comes from knowing everyone is heading in the same direction and for the same reasons.

When people feel like they're part of something larger than themselves, not only are they willing to go the extra mile, but they don't allow obstacles to get in the way of progress.

When identifying your values, avoid using cliche terms (like "integrity", "teamwork", "customer service"). Here are some examples of authentic values:

  • We are a team
  • We are a force for good
  • We take initiative
  • We take ownership
  • We do work we can be proud of
  • We provide heroic customer service

Once you have your values, do this important next step: Illustrate exactly what each value looks like.

For example, if you have the value "We are always learning to master our craft" you may add the bullet points:

  • We read widely in all disciplines because creativity comes from connecting unrelated dots
  • We are curious about how and why things work - or don't work
  • We take calculated risks to see how we can get better
  • We connect regularly with others in our industry, and engage with them about best practices

Go ahead and identify your top six to ten authentic values, then illustrate how they show up every day.

A shared vision based on shared values builds an unstoppable team.

Your purpose = your "why?"

In his book, Start With Why, Simon Sinek says, "Finding WHY is a process of discovery, not invention." If you make it up,  it will be inauthentic, and won't hold up over time.

Begin at the beginning - your company's origins - and work forward.

  • Why did you start this company?
  • In what ways have you seen people's lives improve because of what you do?
  • Where are you sharing customer success stories so your team is inspired, your current customers and clients are affirmed, and your prospects are intrigued?

These are the things that get you - and each team member - excited about what you all do every day. 

You will be on your way to an inspiring and impactful vision statement if you can: tap into that purpose every day for yourself as the company founder and visionary leader; develop a cohesive team that completely believes in that purpose; and attract perfect customers who also deeply resonate with that purpose.

Your company's WHY should be something that gets everyone on your team excited about coming to work every day. It should be something they can talk about with conviction, whether they're speaking to a customer or to each other.

It's the thing that drives everyone on the team to do their best work and be their best selves.

Implementing values based on purpose

When you know your company's WHY, not only is it easier to make decisions about WHAT you do, but also about HOW you do it. This is where your WHY and your values intersect and help you begin to implement your vision.

For example, if one of your values is "We believe that family comes first," then you might decide that employees should have flexible work hours so they can pick up their kids from school or take them to soccer practice.

If "We only do things with excellence" is one of your values, then you might decide to work only with vendors who share that commitment.

There are endless possibilities for how your values can shape the way you do business, but it all starts with WHY. Once you know your company's WHY, you can put it into action.

Passionate purpose permeates your company

There are two elements of your core purpose. First is the "why?" part of it and second is the passion that drives that why. Passion without purpose doesn't accomplish very much, but purpose without passion doesn't accomplish anything.

Passion for the vision should be noticeably ingrained in your company culture. This means living and breathing the vision in everything you and your team do, from the way you treat customers to the way you interact with each other.

If you want to have employees who are excited to go to work every day, you'll find and encourage team members who are passionate about the company vision, and the purpose behind it. They are constantly thinking about it and striving for it.

When your team members passionately love what they do, why they do it and with whom they do it, you have a powerful force for forward momentum that will only spark more action in the future.

Passion is what will keep you going when the going gets tough. It's what will inspire you to continue fighting for your vision even when things seem impossible. If you and your team don't believe in the vision, then no one else will either.

One of the benefits of a values-based passionate purpose is the desire to take responsibility for new or creative initiatives. In companies where everyone isn’t on the same page regarding purpose you often find things going left undone because some employees figure “someone else” will take care of it. That sort of apathy or inertia just doesn't happen when everyone wants to contribute and solve problems.

Passion for the vision is the glue that holds a team together and at the same time, launches it forward.

Your vision creates your brand

A memorable vision statement explains who your company is and what you stand for. People know what to expect from your company. That's what branding is all about: consistency and reliability.

It's why people go to McDonald's when they could just as easily go to the local mom-and-pop burger place: like it or not, when they’re in a hurry they know what to expect. Sometimes it's faster and easier to go with what you know.

At other times consumers may want a consistently high level of elite customer service. They won't get that at McDonald's but they will at the four-star restaurant downtown. 

What do you want to be consistently known for? What will your customers and clients be able to count on from your company?

Your vision is how you define your brand. And - no pun intended - your vision and brand are how you increase company visibility.

Unlike your values which are authentic, your vision statement is:

  • Aspirational - It's about achieving really big goals
  • Inspirational - Like the word on which it is based - respiration - it's about breathing life into everything you do
  • Motivational - It provides a reason for what you're doing - your WHY

Ambitious vision creates greater impact

Dream big, and make sure you have a clear understanding of the current landscape - in your market and industry, in your geographic context, and in the technological context - and what it will take to achieve your vision. As you turn your vision (the what and the why) into a mission (the how), followed by specific action steps, this will help you set milestones and create a road map for success.

Get feedback from people who are knowledgeable and experienced in the areas you're trying to impact. Talk to your team, your mentors, your Board of Directors, and other experts to get their input on what it will take to achieve your vision.

Also remember to involve the people who will be affected by your vision - your customers, clients, and employees. They can provide valuable insights.

Your company vision should stretch everyone on your team, but if you've been diligent about getting buy-in along the way (identifying values, clarifying purpose), that stretch will help you all grow in the right ways.

Stretching your body helps your muscles stay strong, flexible and healthy. Flexibility gives you a range of motion in your joints that you wouldn't have otherwise. The alternative is muscles that shorten and get tight. Then when you need them, they are weak and can't do what you need them to do.

Stretching yourself and your team has the same effect for each of you - and for the company as a whole - to maintain flexibility, adaptability, and strength, regardless of what unexpected curveballs you may have to manage. That's how you turn vision into impact.

Steps for turning vision into action

So how do you take this values-based passionate purpose and make it a reality? Here are the steps.

1 - Write a longer vision statement in which you answer these questions:

  • What problem(s) does your company solve?
  • Why is solving this problem important to people?
  • Who will benefit?
  • What are your company strengths that make a difference?
  • What will this solution look like?
  • What will it feel like to those who receive the benefit?
  • When this dream comes true, how will things be different in the world?

2 - Turn that long vision statement into a clear and concise vision statement

The vision statement is the way the world will look after you have made an imprint. It's future-based, aspirational, big, hopeful, and full of emotion.

Keep it short. The shorter the better. A clear and concise vision statement is easy for everyone in your company to remember and recite. It should be something that inspires them, something they can get behind. It should be something they can rally around.

If you can't explain your vision in a few sentences, then it's probably too complicated. Plus, the easier it is to remember the easier it is to include it in your marketing, which may be useful for attracting great customers.

Try it out on your team members. Check with some of your best customers, people whom you trust, to see what they think.

Reach out to your network of peers, other company leaders, and get their input. They've been where you are now - or will be soon - and it's always a good idea to tap into your network to make sure you're on the right track. (One word of caution: always put the most stock in the comments of your target audience.)

Pull your leadership team together, run through the feedback, tweak as needed, and then make a decision. When you've got the right vision, you'll know it. You'll feel some excitement, with a little bit of nervousness!

Examples of company vision statements:

  • Amazon: "Our vision is to be earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online." (Quoted from on Facebook)
  • Patagonia: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” - (As stated on
  • Disney: “To entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.” - (As stated by The Walt Disney Company)
  • Microsoft: "Make a difference in lives and organizations in all corners of the planet." (As reported in The Boomerang Principle)
  • Tesla: "To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles." (As stated on their website)
  • TED: "TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world." (As stated on their website)
  • Google: "To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." (As stated on this pdf)

Putting action behind the vision

Once you have your vision statement, which is based on your values and purpose, you are ready to create a mission statement. It is the mission statement that explains how you are going to accomplish your vision for an exciting future. Here are some examples based on some of the vision statements above:

  • Amazon: "We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience."
  • TED: "Spread ideas."
  • Tesla: "To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy."
  • Google: "To provide access to the world's information in one click."

To create a mission statement, answer some questions like these:

  • Whom do you serve and how do you serve them? What, exactly, do you do for them?
  • What are your company strengths that you can draw on?
  • What conditions must be met in order to make your vision a reality?
  • What are your company goals? How do your vision and mission align with those goals?
  • What is the gap between how your target audience is being served right now, and your vision for how they will be served in the future?

Just like your vision statement, a clear, concise, short mission statement is most memorable - and marketable.

Once you have them both and they are in alignment, list your broad goals. Underneath each goal write measurable, actionable objectives. It's not enough to just have a vague idea of what you want to achieve. You need to be able to break it down into specific steps that you can take to get there.

You can then identify which objectives you will achieve in each of the upcoming three to four quarters, and how you will know they have been achieved.

Those measurable objectives drive your team meetings and actions. Identify strategies - action plans or initiatives that will help you achieve your goals. Then choose the tactics that will get you there. (Strategy may stay the same over a period of time: "Convert 35% of all website visitors." But the tactics will probably keep changing, as you use different tools and activities to make those conversions.)

Communicate the vision... often

Now that you have your vision and mission statements it's time to start communicating them. A lot. This is not a one-time announcement. You need to keep repeating it - internally and externally - until it becomes part of the fabric of your company culture.

Some ideas for how to communicate your vision and mission:

  • Include them in all new employee onboarding materials
  • Make them part of your company website
  • Include them in all marketing communications - emails, social media posts, print ads, etc.
  • Reference them often in team meetings and company-wide town halls
  • Use them to make all really big decisions
  • Share them when you present at meetings with your network of connections

Make sure every employee knows what the vision and mission are, and how they can help achieve them.

If you want to make an impact in the world, it starts with having a clear vision of what that new world looks like. That means living your values every day and making decisions that reflect your vision. It means being willing to take risks and stand up for what you believe in.

It means being authentic and transparent with your team, your customers, and your partners. It means constantly striving to be better and never settling for mediocrity.

Once you have that, you can put it into action with a passionate purpose and by creating achievable goals. With hard work and dedication, you can turn your vision into reality.

When you live your vision, you make the world a better place - for your employees, your customers, and everyone you come into contact with.

1) Building Your Company’s Vision - HBR (

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