Vision, Mission, Purpose. Strong foundations or simply fluff?

by Mickey Wilson

If you’re running a scale-up business, here’s all you really need to know about these 3 power statements. What they’ll do for your business, how to create them and whether you actually need them in the first place.

We all know that in business, as in life, relationships are built on trust. But the question is, how do you get a chance to build that trust in the first place?

In the very first instance, people need to know your agenda. They want to know who you are, what you want, what you’re up to, and why. That’s precisely what your vision, mission and purpose statements are designed to reveal. They sit right at the top of house to give the world this essential intro information.

What’s the difference between Vision, Mission and Purpose?


These 3 statements frequently get confused, and they’re often used interchangeably, but they do 3 very different jobs. So in simple terms, let’s explain what they are:

  • Your vision is what you’re aiming to achieve.
  • Your mission is how you’re doing it.
  • Your purpose is why you’re doing it.

Or, in reverse order, it could help you to view them like this:

  • Your purpose is your back story – it sets the scene.
  • Your mission is your present – it’s what you’re doing today.
  • Your vision is your future – it’s where you’re going.

All cleared up? Now, let’s dig a little deeper into each…

First up is Vision

Your vision is a big, bold, inspiring statement of what you want to achieve with your company. It motivates you and your team to push relentlessly forward.

Here’s a couple of example visions from companies we all know:

eBAY:  To empower people and create economic opportunity for all.

FORD:  To drive human progress through freedom of movement.


Why do you need a vision statement? 

There are real benefits to your business here. Your vision will help to inspire future clients and partners to work with you and the right candidates to join you. And it will motivate you and your team to do your very best work in pursuit of your goals. 

The truth is that without a clear vision, your team are rudderless. They won’t have a clue why they’re doing what they’re doing. And unless they’re internally motivated, they’re unlikely to go the extra mile or put any additional effort into their work.


What makes a good vision statement?

All the best vision statements have a combination of these things in common:

  • Aspirational: Bold, ambitious and based on a vivid “big picture” of your future business. 
  • Galvanising: Compelling you and your team to achieve great things.
  • Guiding: Providing direction for your plans and strategies. Helping you to make decisions.
  • Relevant and resonant: To your people, your clients and everyone you impact.
  • Unique to you: Touching on what makes your organisation different.


Simple tips for defining yours…

Forming a vision sounds almost easy – I mean, how hard can it be to decide what you most want to achieve with your business? But typically, our clients find this one of the more challenging parts of our Brand Re:Ignition programme. Especially, as with all these things, it needs to centre around just one thing to be most memorable, powerful and effective. 

One of the exercises we use in our workshops is called ‘Your Business in the News’. We ask you to imagine that your business is featured in a prominent press publication in 3-5 years’ time. This could be industry news, or you could think bigger… maybe it’s a global news network. Either way, your feature is a high-profile, front-page story. In fact, it’s THE story of the moment, generating piggyback coverage from all kinds of news outlets and a trending hashtag on Twitter (oops, X). This is what you’ll become remembered for. So, the killer question is: what’s your big news story about? Take a few moments to write the headline. This exercise is a fantastic first step to creating a bold yet meaningful vision.


Next up is Mission


Your mission is the thing your business does day in and day out to solve your client’s problems. It’s what you do and how you make a difference in practical terms.

Here’s a couple of big business examples:

NIKE:  Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete.

GOOGLE: To organise the world’s information making it universally accessible and useful.


Why do you need a mission statement? 

While it shares many of the same benefits as your vision statement, we’d argue that your mission is particularly interesting to your clients and prospects. It should speak volumes to them because this is exactly what you’re doing every day to make their lives easier or more fulfilled. 


What makes a good mission statement?

A great mission statement is all of these things:


Differentiated: Setting you apart from your competitors.

Aligned: With your vision, purpose and values.

Concise and memorable: Defining in clear terms what you do and how it benefits your clients.

Relevant and resonant: To your audience – both internally and externally.


Simple tips for defining yours…

Good news! We have a formula for this one. Start forming your mission statement by simply answering these questions:

  • What are we doing?
  • What difference are we making?
  • Who is it for?


Our Firestarter mission is: 

‘We use fearless, collaborative ingenuity to create impactful brands 
for rebels with a cause.’


So in terms of Firestarter:

  • What are we doing? We’re using fearless, collaborative ingenuity.
  • What difference are we making? We’re creating impactful brands.
  • Who are we doing it for? Rebels with a cause.

Or Google:

  • What are we doing? We’re organising information.
  • What difference are we making? We’re making it universally accessible and useful.
  • Who are we doing it for? The world.

Once you have the answers, it’s just a matter of wordsmithing them into the most impactful and dynamic format.


And finally, Purpose


Your purpose is the reason your company exists. It’s deeply connected to your values and reveals the positive impact you’d like your business to have beyond profit.

Here’s a couple of great examples:

BLACKROCK: To help more and more people experience financial well-being.

LEGO: To inspire and develop the builders of tomorro


Why do you need a purpose statement?

Now more than ever before, it’s more important for companies to have a strong sense of meaning and purpose in order to attract, retain and motivate the best people.

In fact, EY reports that purpose-driven companies:

  • make more money
  • have more engaged employees
  • have more loyal customers
  • and are better at innovation and transformational change.

Far from a business fad, there’s well-established research that suggests individuals with a sense of meaning and purpose are more likely to be happy, healthy, and productive. They’re also far more likely to be resilient in the face of adversity. This can only mean good things for your business!


So, what makes a good purpose statement?

  • Authentic: It needs to be real – not created just for the sake of having a purpose.
  • Aligned: With your vision, mission and values.
  • Deeply meaningful: To move you and your team into action.
  • Emotive: To connect and resonate with your audiences.


Simple tips for defining yours…

Defining your purpose statement comes down to understanding your why. Why do you do what you do? Why are you so passionate about it? Why did you start a whole business to do this one amazing thing day in and day out? Why are you happy to get out of bed every morning, sometimes in the face of challenge or adversity, to keep it going? 

Why, why, why? Never accept your first answer! It’s really important to ask the question in different ways over and over again to get to the bottom of things. In fact, we urge you to ask each ‘why’ question at least 7 times to go deeper and deeper. Then finally, you’ll uncover your core driver. This is your purpose.


Do you need all 3 statements?

Not at all. There are no rules, woohoo! Some organisations choose to have a single statement that sums everything up. You only need what really works for you and your business. 

Equally, there’s little point in having any at all if you don’t use them as powerful tools for your business. But when you do harness the full power of a clear vision, mission, and purpose, you’ll create strong foundations for your company. You’ll more easily attract and retain top-tier clients and fantastic people, you’ll all be more motivated to succeed, and you’ll be better equipped to weather the storms that come your way.


Tackling your own Vision, Mission and Purpose

As with pretty much everything – you get out what you put in! However, we also know you likely have a challenging workload with plenty of ‘today’ problems to deal with. So our advice would be to work on an MVP (minimum viable product) version of your MVP statements (Mission, Vision, Purpose). See what we did there? 😉

They don’t have to be absolutely perfect from the first draft! But just getting to the first draft will be extremely beneficial for your business. Not just because you’ll have something meaningful to share with the outside world but more importantly because of all the thinking, unpacking and defining you’ll do internally to get to that stage. This alone can be game-changing for you as a business leader.


How to get people excited about them

Your vision, mission, and purpose statements are only half the equation. The rest is getting others to buy into them. People need to believe that your vision is possible and your mission and purpose are worth backing. So how can you do this?

Remember the magic: Don’t lose those ‘light bulb’ moments that were the source of your inspiration in the first place. These got you excited and filled with anticipation. Draw on your passion and emotion to tell the whole story, and use the magic of discovery and realisation to captivate your audience in the same way.

Make them connectable: Your vision, mission and purpose should excite and motivate. But remember that people need to connect them to their own aspirations and values before they can get on board. You can help them do this, of course, but it’s also important to make time and space for people to work this through on their own. 

Make them believable: People need to believe without question that you can deliver on your vision and stay true to your mission and purpose. Having a track record of success, clear plans for execution, and a way of measuring and celebrating progress will help others to lean in, not on, you as the visionary. 


Now go forth and craft your own vision, mission and purpose statements then broadcast them to the world. Remember, above all, to make them human. Good luck and if you need any help, we stand ready…