Vision and mission statements are a critical component in your firm's strategic alignment. By communicating your direction and inspiring everyone involved with your firm, they bridge the gap between your firm's purpose and strategic objectives.
Without a vision and mission, you can lose sight of the direction your firm needs to achieve its potential.
Vision vs mission
The primary difference between vision and mission is the perspective in terms of time and altitude.
- Vision: The difference you’ll create in your clients’ lives or the larger world when you ultimately realise your purpose.
- Mission: An ambitious yet achievable position in the market or in your clients’ lives that recognises your purpose.
Your vision is where you strive to end up (and the impact you hope to make) in five to 10 years. The mission is closer to the present and represents something that's more tangible - an ambitious, achievable position in market within the next year or two.
A mission is a stretch goal from where you are at today, making it more quantifiable. A vision is more impactful and timeless. It defines how you will influence your niche, market or the world at large. In both cases, a vision and a mission are in realisation and recognition of your earlier defined purpose.
Setting your vision
Your vision statement should be clear and concise, stable and enduring, abstract and future-oriented. It should also be challenging, not only in terms of difficulty, but also in the sense of challenging the status quo so that you can make a big impact. It must also inspire—consider that people will choose to work for your firm because they believe in the vision you have for your firm.
To define your vision, start by writing the words "We will..." and go from there.
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Here are a few industry examples to provide some inspiration:
- EY: Build a better working world.
- Caldwell Consulting and Training: Help accounting teams achieve their dreams and goals via coaching and education.
- HPC: Help global entrepreneurs live the life they dream through technology, financial advice, and partnerships.
- Two Roads: We believe it’s hard to lead alone. In business, as in life, partnership provides wisdom, strength, and direction.
- Hemingway Bailey: In everything that we do that we shall improve our team, clients, and community through our knowledge and guidance.
Defining your mission
A mission statement talks about HOW you will get to where you want to be. It is ambitious yet achievable, answers the question of “Why do we exist?”, and informs your desired level of performance.
More specifically, it outlines:
- What you do
- How you do it
- Whom you do it for
- What value you bring
Start by writing the words "Be the most..." and go from there.
Here are a few industry related examples:
- Intuit: To improve customers’ financial lives so profoundly… they can’t imagine going back to the old way.
- EY: We are committed to building a better working world—with increased trust and confidence in business, sustainable growth, development of talent in all its forms, and great collaboration.
- HPC: Be the most tech savvy, competent global business consultants, advisors, and accountants by providing world-class solutions to Global Entrepreneurs at a reasonable price point that enables them to thrive.
- Hemingway Bailey: For our clients, we shall be trusted advisers so that they can rely on us for info and advice to improve their business and lives. For our team, we will offer them the opportunity to grow and reach their potential. For our community, we will always be there to help as much as we can.
- SeaChange Accounting Solutions: Position our firm as the experts in Xero and the go to place for information, resources and assistance with the latest cloud software to save time and make running your business easier.
Built upon the purpose of the accounting firm, your vision and mission statements will provide you with a clear direction to achieve what is most important to you. They will help your firm reach beyond your position in the market and create a fundamental impact on your clients, your niche and the world in general.
This article is the second part in a four-part series on building a solid foundation for your accounting firm. Stay tuned for upcoming articles outlining how to establish your firm values and key strategic objectives.
About Ian Vacin
With over 25 years of experience in technology and over 15 years of leadership experience in the accounting industry at Karbon, Xero, and Intuit, Ian is passionate about helping accounting professionals be as successful as possible in order to positively impact the small businesses that they serve.