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Who needs Vision & Mission Statement?

Who needs Vision and Mission Statements?

In short, every business needs a vision and mission statement, and cleaning businesses are no exception. These statements are key to guiding a business, for improving over time, for creating alignment between the business and its employees, and for building the type of business that leaves a legacy.

Dave Ramsey once said, “without a mission statement, you may get to the top of the ladder and then realize it was leaning against the wrong building.” The reason you want a mission statement is to make sure that your ladder is always on the right building.

Your mission statement is grounded in today. It's the gear wheel that drives your company.

Here are the four essential questions it should answer:

  • What do we do?

  • Who are we serving?

  • How are we serving them?

  • What value do we deliver?

A mission statement isn't a pages-long diatribe. It should be clear and concise, typically no more than a couple of sentences.

What Not to Include in a Mission Statement

  • Vague statements: A mission statement should clearly communicate what you do, for whom, and why. Avoid language like “we do our job well” or “customers love us.” Far better is to say something like, “we are the top-rated company in our industry.”

  • Jargon: This isn't the place to get bogged down in industry speak. Use words that anyone, especially your customers, can easily understand.

  • Generalities: Your statement is yours; it shouldn't read like anyone else's. Tailor the language to make it specific to your company's personality and distinct place in the industry.

  • Far-fetched proclamations: Your statement shouldn't be so disconnected from how your company actually shows up in the world that it is completely unbelievable to anyone who reads it.

  • All the information: A powerful mission statement is one that is short enough that your employees could memorize and repeat it to customers. Edit relentlessly and leave in only what matters most.

Sample Mission Statements

Here are a few examples of strong mission statements from companies you likely know:

IKEA: “To offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.” Google: “To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Caterpillar: “To enable economic growth through infrastructure and energy development, and to provide solutions that support communities and protect the planet.”

How does all of this information translate into a mission statement for a commercial cleaning company? Here's a hypothetical example:

“ABC Cleaning Company improves our local community by helping businesses provide cleaner and healthier environments for their employees and customers.”

What is a Vision Statement?

Project your mission statement five to 10 years into the future to create your vision statement. Henry David Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams”—that's the purpose of a vision statement. It's about defining where you want to take your company in the years ahead.

The vision statement is aspirational and serves as a guiding light. It should answer questions like:

  • What impact do we want our company to have on our customers, our community, and/or the world?

  • How are we working towards the greater good?

  • Who are we inspiring to change, and how?

  • What important problems will we solve?

  • What changes are we striving to make?

Although many experts suggest the vision statement be as short as the mission statement (just 1-2 sentences), it's more important to capture all of your dreams for the company. If that takes a page or more, that's okay.

What Not to Include in a Vision Statement

In addition to avoiding vague statements, generalities, and jargon (as outlined above with mission statements), there are a few other things to avoid when writing your vision statement:

  • Rushed Ideas: As with a mission statement, take your time thinking through your vision. Don't write down everything that comes to mind right away. Take time to consider what matters most, and get input from your team as well.

  • Here and Now: Unlike a mission statement, which is rooted in today, a vision statement is about the future. Use future-focused language to outline the company's future objective.

  • Achievable goals: Don't be timid. You don't want to be so unrealistic that no one can buy into the dream, but your vision should be lofty enough to challenge, motivate, and inspire your team.

Sample Vision Statements Here are how the same three well-known companies wrote their vision statements. Compare them to their mission statements above to see how these future-focused, big-picture visions are different.

IKEA: “Our vision is to create a better everyday life for many people.”

Google: “To provide access to the world's information in one click.”

Caterpillar: “Our vision is a world in which all people's basic needs—such as shelter, clean water, sanitation, food and reliable power—are fulfilled in an environmentally sustainable way and a company that improves the quality of the environment and the communities where we live and work.”

And here's how our hypothetical contract cleaning company might write its vision statement:

“ABC Cleaning Company's vision is to help our customers have the healthiest, happiest, and most productive employees possible.”

Putting Your Vision and Mission Statements to Work

Quality vision and mission statements will take more than just a few minutes to develop. They take careful thought and planning. Spending time developing those few sentences that define your business can be just as valuable as the final statements.

The mission statement is designed to communicate why your company exists to employees and customers. When it is formalized, use it on your website and in your promotional materials.

It's a quick and easy way for your customers and potential customers to learn about your commercial cleaning business and what it stands for. Also, post it internally so your employees see it every day as a reminder to practice what you preach.

The vision statement, on the other hand, is typically only used internally to help management (and, if you choose, employees) make decisions that move the company in the correct direction.

Henry Kissinger said, “if you do not know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.” Your mission statement reflects where you are right now. Your vision statement tells you where you are going. Using the two together shows you the roads to get you, and your business, anywhere you want to be.

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