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The Difference Between Mission, Vision and Values

July 06, 2022, 05:00 AM

I was recently reminded of the necessity of having well-thought-out mission, vision and values among industry participants. Over the past couple of weeks, I had discussions with two different companies in the same industry about different internal changes they might need to make because of the present market uncertainties. The first company was exploring significant changes to its operations, marketing efforts, staffing, pricing and so on, all without a meaningful commitment to its mission. In their conversations, the company was completely reactive, nearly rudderless and seemed to only react with fear.

Faced with the same uncertainty, the second business had tactical conversations. The management team focused on fast-tracking some initiatives to seize developing opportunities while pulling back slightly on others that would have less potential in the near term. These decisions were guided by their corporate strategy and it was unnecessary to make drastic modifications. This management team is fully committed to the company's mission, vision and values.

The second organization’s management team was pleased with the company's success over the last couple of years, which  exceeded all expectations. More importantly, the management team feels the company is well-positioned, with a strong balance sheet, high-performing assets, and a proven track record in difficult cycles. All discussions at the second company were structured, data-driven and proactive using their Mission, Vision and Value statements.

The Purpose of a Mission Statement

The mission statement communicates the purpose of the organization.

A mission statement takes the “why” of what you do and consolidates it into about one to two sentences. This abbreviated expression of your values and purpose helps everyone who encounters your work to immediately understand what you’re all about; it serves to remind you and your team why you continue walking in the door each morning.

A strong mission statement will contain four key elements:


  • What are the values that you want in all your stakeholders – Employees, Customers and Suppliers.


  • Let your company’s personality shine through your mission statement. It should reflect the ideas that make your company different from others. That said, you’ll want to write yours in a way that not only makes it unique, but identifiable so that it strengthens your brand identity and perception.


  • Your mission statement should be achievable by giving you something tangible to work on, such as having a business plan. It should fall between what you’re already doing and what you can work toward.


  • Keeping it short and simple will help you convey all the important elements of the mission statement, like core values, to employees and customers alike. Avoid using buzzwords or flowery language to make sure there is no room for any misinterpretation or misunderstanding. Ideally, Mission Statements should be 20 words or less.

As you start writing a mission statement, you’ll want to first answer some vital questions that will help you define the purpose of your business or brand.

These include:

  • What does your business do?
  • How does it do it?
  • Who are your customers?
  • Why does your company do what it does or what sparks the passion behind it?

Blog on how to Build a Mission Statement

The Purpose of a Vision Statement

20 Examples of inspiring vision statements

The vision statement provides insight into what the company hopes to achieve or become in the future.

There are a few common rules that pretty much every Business Vision Statement will follow:

  1. It should be short – two sentences at an absolute maximum. It's fine to expand on your vision statement with more detail, but you need a version that is punchy and easily memorable.
  2. It needs to be specific to your business and describe a unique outcome that only you can provide. • Generic vision statements that could apply to any organization won't cut it!
  3. Do not use words that are open to interpretation. • For example, saying you will “maximize shareholder return in 2022” doesn't mean anything unless you specify what it actually looks like.
  4. Keep it simple enough for people both inside and outside your organization to understand. • No technical jargon, no metaphors and no business buzzwords if possible!
  5. It should be ambitious enough to be exciting but not too ambitious that it seems unachievable. • Writing a vision statement in 2022 we recommend you aim around the year 2025, this is ambitious and far enough in the future to work towards, but not so far that your organization loses its faith and commitment.
  6. It needs to align to the company values that you want your people to exhibit as they perform their work. • Once you've created those company values later, revisit your Vision to see how well they gel.

Following these rules should give you a solid starting point for creating a vision statement. To help refine things further, we'll now look at some examples of vision statements that did not follow these rules.

Questions to Ask

  • The following questions can help you clarify your vision:
  • Where do we want the organization to go?
  • What can we realistically achieve?
  • What problem does the organization intend to solve?
  • What are the changes we believe the organization can make for individuals? For the industry?
  • How will things be different if the vision is realized?
  • What phrases or keywords describe the type of organization and outcome we want?

The Steps: How to Write a Vision Statement

  1. Define what you do as an output
  2. Define what unique twist your organization brings to the above outcome
  3. Apply some high-level quantification
  4. Add relatable, human, “real world” aspects

The Purpose of a Values Statement

The values statement reflects the organization's core principles and ethics.

The organization's guiding ideas and philosophical ideals are highlighted in the values statement. It is used to communicate to external stakeholders what matters to the company and to inform and direct internal decision-making and behavior. The guiding principles of an organization set the norms of behavior that can be used to measure the effectiveness of choices and activities.

A values statement needs to be timeless, applicable and memorable. Depending on the company, the format of the values statement might vary. Some organizations utilize one, two or three words to explain their basic beliefs; others offer a brief phrase.

  • The following are some things to think about when creating a values statement:
  • What values do we uphold?
  • What actions are we most proud of?
  • How will we organize our efforts to fulfill our mission and vision?
  • How do we respect those who are a part of our own community and organization?


Your mission, vision and values should make work easier, not generate confusion. Here are three questions you can use to test these statements and make sure they’re working for you.

  1. Can employees identify the mission, vision and values?
  2. Can employees accurately describe the meaning of each statement?
  3. Can employees describe how these statements guide their daily work?

You might need to go back to the drawing board if the answer is “no” to any of those questions.

Writing a mission, vision or values doesn't have to be a months-long quest.

Above all else, your mission, vision and values should be authentic. The best and easiest way to do that is to use these statements to succinctly describe the existing culture.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

RJ Grimshaw
RJ Grimshaw was the former president and CEO of UniFi Equipment Finance from 2013 to October 2023 and spearheaded a remarkable transformation within the company. Under his leadership, UniFi witnessed a meteoric rise in assets, skyrocketing from $14 million to an impressive $250 million.

Prior to his impactful tenure at UniFi, Grimshaw held a series of senior leadership roles at EverBank and Key Equipment Finance, where he honed his skills in steering organizations toward success.

Beyond his corporate achievements, Grimshaw is the author of the book "ABLE LEADERSHIP." He is recognized as a leading authority on Intrapreneurship, sales, and leadership. This expertise positions him uniquely in assisting business owners.
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