Business basics: vision and strategy

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Mar 3, 2023

Every business starts with a vision: a core goal and reason for being. The strategic planning soon follows, depicting a roadmap of actionable steps that plot how the company will achieve their business vision.

Whether it’s restaurant chain Chipotle’s claims to ‘change the world through food’, LinkedIn’s promise to ‘create economic opportunity’ for the global workforce, or Tesla’s ambitious bid to ‘create the most compelling cars of the 21st century’, every brand begins with an aspirational primary aim for their product or service.

What is a vision statement?

A company’s vision statement distils and depicts that central ambition. A good vision statement is one that is deeply personal to the organisation. It describes the best outcome the company could achieve – not to be confused with shorter term goals, profits, or numerical measures of success. The vision is aspirational, evocative and unique, helping to build an impactful mental picture of the brand.

The vision statement defines the organisation’s purpose and role in how they intend to serve a wider societal need. The what’s and why’s of this powerful summarisation help to unite and align a team in meeting the brand’s forward-looking dreams – and with millenials citing purposeful and meaningful work as a top contributing factor to their chosen career, it’s an integral piece of literature when compiling a dedicated workforce. 

However, as many as 52% of UK employees can’t recite their organisation’s overarching aim. But a clear vision is essential for acquiring talent and keeping potential investors onside. 

How do you get buy-in on this?

Securing the support of internal and external stakeholders is crucial. There will be many instances where the chain of influence is paramount to sustaining the business vision, such as securing financial investment from shareholders or time commitments from employees. Gaining the belief and backing of your team is critical to achieving organisational success.

It’s important to develop a clear vision, so stakeholders know exactly what they are ‘buying into’. Tailoring your pitch to key players and addressing the concerns of core influencers can facilitate the alignment of audience goals, motivations and values. 

Leveraging feedback and inviting employee contributions to the table creates the feeling of a ‘shared’ idea, meaning staff are more likely to value the business mission if they feel personally involved, representative and responsible.

Finally, leading from the front can be an effective way of securing buy-in from your team; if you show your belief and commitment to the business vision, staff are more likely to follow.

What are the first steps in setting vision and strategy?

Clarifying a vision for your business is the starting block. The strategy provides a roadmap of how to get there. Both components are equally critical to the long-term running, decision-making and strategic direction of a business and require careful consideration.

1. Consider company values

While a vision statement may be aspirational and future-thinking, it should still be grounded in actionable data to be understood by a wider audience. Your business vision should represent your company values. How you want your organisation to be perceived and what you ultimately want to contribute to the wider market are key factors to account for in this stage of business ideation. Be it integrity, authenticity, boldness or fun, a company’s core values should guide everything else that they do, from external communications to establishing a company culture. As such, they play a central part in establishing a business vision, which at the top-level, represents the entire brand.

2. Know your goals and objectives

Goal-setting forms the basis of your business strategy, providing incremental markers of success to inform and help refine your wider future plan. When placed side by side with the company values, you’ll gain a comprehensive overview of what you want your business to achieve and how to get there. This step also helps establish how realistic the vision is.

3. Set a mission statement

Knowing your values, goals and main objectives can help inform a mission statement. Where your vision statement is your dream, the mission statement grounds the vision in practicality, purpose and focus. An organisation’s mission statement depicts what the business does, who it serves and tends to be more action-oriented. The mission statement may refer to a problem in wider society or a gap in the market and then outline how the organisation seeks to solve this. It is also used to provide guidance, direction and inspiration to employees, in planning and undertaking specific actions and initiatives, while informing customers on what they expect from the business.

4. Establish targets and timeframes

Though a business vision may be forward-thinking, it’s important to plan for now. Armed with a comprehensive view of what you want your company to achieve, you can turn your mind to setting SMART targets and specific timelines for when you intend to meet certain milestones.

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