As your business evolves, your company’s purpose, goals and target markets might change too. To reflect these changes and inspire clients, employees and investors alike, small business owners might need to adapt their company’s current mission statement. A great mission statement provides everyone who interacts with your business a better understanding of your offerings and objectives. In this post, we explain the difference between vision statements, mission statements and core values. We also identify when and how to adapt your mission statement as your company evolves. You’ll learn how to write a good mission statement that reflects your firm’s purpose, and how to explain that updated mission statement to stakeholders. If at the end of this post you are still unsure if, when and how to update your mission statement, consider joining our private Facebook group or seeking further guidance from a small business coach.
Understanding the Difference Between a Mission Statement and Vision Statement
This post focuses on mission statements. However, business owners might also consider adapting their vision statements as their companies evolve.
While your company’s core values will likely remain the same, both its mission statement and vision statement might need a refresh. Before tweaking either statement, it’s important to understand key differences between the two.
What is a Vision Statement?
In “Vision and Mission Statements” for Iowa State University, Don Hofstrand defines a vision statement as a description of your organization’s “destination.” Vision statements might not outline a strategic plan, but they do paint a picture of what the organization should look like in the future.
A mission statement succinctly identifies where the organization currently is and what it currently does. A vision statement describes how the company will evolve while fulfilling the purpose outlined in its mission statement.
Vision and mission statements are both used in internal and external marketing. However, their applications differ somewhat. Though not a hard and fast rule, a company’s mission statement is typically directed at clients or customers. A vision statement is typically directed at employees and shareholders and is designed to express the company’s goals.
Vision statements are intended to motivate and inspire employees while attracting investors and bolstering current stakeholders. Writing for Business News Daily, Sean Peek notes “vision statements are essential because they reveal a common goal and direction” to your team.
Vision statements not only direct current employees by reinforcing the company’s core purpose and business goals. In conjunction with your mission statement, your vision statement also works to attract future employees.
Accurate but somewhat aspirational vision statements can help connect your organization with applicants who have similar values. This ensures new hires easily mesh with your company culture.
Let us know in the comments if you would like a few vision statement examples.
What is a Mission Statement?
As noted above, mission statements focus on the here and now. In few words, a mission statement describes the who, what and where of your organization. It should also point to your company’s target customer and express the human spirit of your business.
If your company’s target market has changed, or you have opened a second studio location, it might be time to update your mission statement.
What Does a Great Mission Statement Look Like?
But what makes a great mission statement? According to Daniel J. Myers in a paper originally printed in New York Nonprofits, a well-written mission statement is “short and focused.”
However, a strong mission statement “should also be broad and overarching enough to encompass organizational purposes for many years.” You can always go back and edit. Still, anticipating how your company might change limits the need to alter your mission statement again in the near future.
The best mission statements — whether describing a company or nonprofit organization — “address opportunities; inspire commitment [and are] positive, exciting and inspirational.” Perhaps most important, the right mission statement is succinct, accurate and to-the-point.
As Myers puts it, an effective mission statement “is valid and fits with the abilities of the organization; and keeps the organization focussed.”
When to Change Your Mission Statement
It’s important to update your vision and statements as needed to prevent breakdowns in communication. An inaccurate mission or vision statement could mislead potential clients, frustrate existing customers and/or confuse employees.
The latter can be especially consequential for businesses as they expand and evolve. In the article “Don’t Just Tell Employees Organizational Changes Are Coming — Explain Why” for Harvard Business Review, Morgan Galbraith explains. Galbraith writes that “when employees don’t understand why changes are happening, it can be a barrier to driving ownership and commitment.”
According to Galbraith, “employees’ resistance to change is a leading factor for why so many change transformations fail.” Try to avoid changing your vision or mission statements without consulting team members. After all, your company’s mission statement serves as a guiding light for all employees — not just C-Suite executives.
As your small business evolves and expands, you might consider updating your company’s mission statement if…
#1 You Want to Apply for Funding
Some small business owners refine their company’s mission statement before courting investors, applying for grants or seeking other sources of funding. For example, you might choose to revise your company’s mission statement if planning to change its business structure.
When seeking outside investment for the first time as a newly-minted corporation, accurate vision and mission statements are vital elements of most business plans. A more comprehensive mission statement explains your business’ intent more accurately to investors and/or lenders.
In many cases, a mission statement is an essential element of the business plan you will need to secure investment in your organization. Because your vision statement explains how the business will grow over time, it might also be critical to your interior design business plan.
A bank or credit union might not require a perfectly crafted mission statement. Still, it can help communicate how you will use and return borrowed funds.
If you need help drafting your interior design business plan, consider working with a small business coach. For a bit of insight into what small business coaching services include, attend one of our upcoming workshops. Through our workshops and Facebook group, you can connect with our team and with other small business owners.
To create your interior design business plan, you can also check out this resource from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA’s business planning resource “Roadmap to Small Business Success” is designed for all small businesses, so it should guide interior design business owners too.
#2 A New Draft Doesn’t Resemble Your Interior Design Firm’s Current Mission Statement
The second situation in which an interior designer should change his or her firm’s mission statement is fairly obvious. Imagine you — an interior design business owner — sit down to rewrite your mission statement.
If you find that the new draft hardly resembles your firm’s current statement, it’s probably time for an update. If your mission statement accurately describes your business’ everyday operations, target market and core values, it should be easy to recall.
#3 Your Target Market Has Changed, You Have Added More Services, Expanded into New Markets or Opened Secondary Locations
As noted in the section “What is a Mission Statement?,” every mission statement should identify that company’s target market. If your target audience has changed, it might be time to alter the language of your mission statement to better appeal to prospective clients.
For example, consider a Seattle-based design-build that recently opened a second studio in Portland, Oregon. Their current mission statement might read something like “An innovative design-build firm bringing unique homes and high-end interiors to clients across Washington State.” To ensure their mission statement reflects an evolving target market, that small business might change “Washington State” to “the West Coast.”
#4 You Have Added More Services
Similarly, if your small business has added more services, it might be time to update your mission statement. In 2020, we officially transformed our interior design collective into a full-service design firm.
That means we now provide our clients with both interior design and residential building design. LUDC is a multidisciplinary team with interior designers and other industry professionals.
Why We Updated Our Mission Statement
Our team works on everything from new construction homes to historic remodels — designing millwork, procuring furniture and so much more. We also opened a second location in Aspen, Colorado, where we undertook a gut remodel of our Mountain Lane Show House. There have been several changes to where we work and the ways in which we serve our clients over the last couple of years.
As such, a few alterations to our mission and vision statements were necessary. As an interior design business owner expanding into new markets, you might need to change your mission statement too.
If you plan to add more services to your firm’s offerings, you might consider working with an interior design business coach. The right coach can help you grow your own business by enhancing your communication skills, designing practical strategies and providing the business tools you need.
#5 The Industry to Which Your Small Business Belongs is Undergoing Major Changes
Another reason to change your mission statement is if the industry or field to which your company belongs has recently undergone major changes. Maybe a new technology was introduced to the interior design industry or changes were made to licensing requirements in your area.
For example, the FDA ruled in August that shoppers with minimal to moderate hearing loss can now buy hearing aids over the counter. A licensed hearing aid dispenser might alter their mission statement to emphasize the sale of prescription hearing aids. Alternatively, another dispenser might note that they also sell, fit or clean OTC aids.
#6 The Reason You Founded the Company is Not the Reason You’re Still in Business
If the reason you founded your company is not the reason your business exists now, it is certainly time to adapt its mission statement. To this point, Barbara Weltman explains how and why Boeing changed its mission statement in “5 Steps to Revising Your Mission Statement” for Insperity. Weltman writes that Boeing’s original goal was to “‘become the dominant player in commercial aircraft and bring the world into the jet age.'”
Eventually, Boeing achieved this goal and evolved beyond its original mission. The company’s mission statement now reads “‘to push the leading edge of aviation, taking huge challenges doing what others cannot do.'” As your firm changes over time, its original mission might no longer apply.
#7 You Want to Attract a Different Type or Caliber of Employees
If you want to attract a different type or caliber of employees — and retain them — it might be time to update your mission statement. Your mission statement should reflect the company as it is now, not as it was when you founded it.
Accurately reflecting the company’s current purpose and clientele can help prospective employees envision themselves as part of your team. Your business may have evolved, but the mission statement might not reflect that change. If so, professionals might not see a place for themselves at your company.
Why an Accurate Mission Statement Matters for Hiring and Retention
A mission statement that clearly describes your company’s impact can also attract workers in a tough job market where competition is fierce. In our post “Tips for Retaining Creative Employees,” we note job seekers are more concerned with a company’s social impact than they once were.
Personal fulfillment and alignment with the company mission are also key to employee retention. According to Stefan Ellerbeck in a June 2022 article for the WEF, “over two-thirds [of job seekers] are seeking more fulfillment in the workplace.” This represents a major opportunity for businesses planning to update their mission statements.
Having team members who feel fulfilled by their work and connected to the company’s mission isn’t beneficial solely to employees. It also serves the company’s interests.
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Katarina Berg underscore this in their article “Fostering a Culture of Belonging in the Hybrid Workplace” for Harvard Business Review. They write that “psychological research has consistently shown that when employees feel that they belong…they tend to perform better.”
#8 You Have Noticed Confusion Amongst Clients or Team Members
Your company’s vision and mission statements are important parts of its brand. Brand consistency — both internal and external — is vital to the health and longevity of your business. In our post “Preserving Brand Identity as Your Business Grows,” we note that “consistency helps you maintain strong brand identity.” It effectively “insulates your brand as the business grows and changes.”
Inconsistency in your brand identity breeds confusion — potentially alienating future clients and confusing current customers. Your mission statement plays a major part in either attracting or turning away clients. After all, your mission statement should clearly define your approach and briefly outline your services.
As your company grows, you may find that your mission changes. This is perfectly okay! Just make sure that those changes find their way into your marketing. Your marketing strategy and your mission should always align.Melissa Grove, Chief Operating Officer, Laura U Design Collective
If you have noticed confusion from prospective clients, current customers or employees, it might be time to update mission and vision statements. To ensure each employee understands your company mission and vision statements, consider surveying your team. Host a meeting to discuss how your company’s mission and/or vision have changed.
Address any questions or concerns before employees have miscommunications with clients of your small business. A small business coach can help small business owners implement these changes and address concerns amongst team members.
#9 You Want to Clarify the Company’s Trajectory
Similarly, you might consider altering your business’ vision or mission statement if you want to clarify the company’s trajectory. Change can excite employees and shareholders, but it can also make them nervous.
A statement that expressly states your intended trajectory can make employees and shareholders feel more secure and at ease. Writing for Harvard Business Review, Morgan Galbraith acknowledges that change can be “unstable, stressful, and risky.” However, expressing “a clear meaning or purpose behind the change will strengthen your case.”
Pointing to recent changes or identifying upcoming changes in your mission or vision statement will provide shareholders with a bit of security. It will also provide employees with “a better understanding of the business strategy.” When employees and shareholders are in the loop, they feel less uncertain about their role in the company’s future.
#10 Your Current Mission Statement Doesn’t Set the Company Apart from Others in Your Industry
As a small business owner, you want to compose a unique mission statement that sets your organization apart from others in your industry. In particular, small business owners want to distinguish their company from similar companies that appeal to their target market.
Your mission statement should attract and inspire both employees and prospective clients. If your current mission statement does not set your company apart, it might be time for a rewrite.
How to Adapt a Mission Statement as Your Interior Design Firm Evolves
After reading about when to change your mission statement, you probably already have a good idea of how to change your mission statement. Before beginning, small business owners should identify the reason for altering their mission statement.
Are you hoping to attract the right employees for your firm but haven’t received applications from those who would mesh with your company culture? Have shareholders, team members or clients expressed confusion about your company’s current offerings or near future? Are you planning to add new services or open a second location?
Once you identify the reason behind the rewrite, determine whether you should alter your company’s mission statement, vision statement or both. After figuring out which you need to change, either survey employees or call a meeting to brainstorm a new statement.
As you draft a new vision or mission statement, consider clients of your small business. Use language specific to your industry that will resonate with shareholders and clients while underscoring your expertise. For a well-crafted mission statement, avoid jargon that confuses or alienates prospective clients.
When writing a mission statement for a business, hint at the future but focus on your company’s current offerings. When rewriting your company’s vision statement, describe your goals in way that is inspiring but clearly attainable.
Tip: Make Sure Your Company’s Mission or Vision Statement is Flexible Enough to Enable Future Growth
Most of our readers plan to continue growing their small businesses. If this is the case for you, adapt your company’s mission or vision statement in a way that makes planned growth feel natural. Leave room for the future. That way, you won’t have to change your mission statement every time you add a new service or expand into a new market.
As “More than a mission statement” from McKinsey Quarterly explains, Patagonia’s mission statement is a great example of this approach. Patagonia’s mission used to be “’build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.'” A few years ago, the company updated its mission statement.
Patagonia’s mission statement now notes that the company’s primary goal is “to save our home planet.” This statement “gives Patagonia the impetus to expand into multiple new businesses” as long as those businesses help “save our home planet.” Their all-encompassing yet perfectly accurate mission statement provides the wiggle room needed to explore new avenues.
How to Communicate Your Updated Mission and Vision
Lastly, small business owners must communicate their new mission statement to shareholders, team members, current clients and future customers. We recommend doing so through formal meetings and both internal and external marketing materials. In an article for the Houston Chronicle, Candace Webb recommends “presenting the new vision and mission” at an all-team meeting to address any concerns.
Webb suggests “keeping the message positive and actionable [as you] point out similarities and differences between the former mission and vision.” Of course, be sure to “leave plenty of time for a question-and-answer session.” If your vision differs from one department to the next, make sure each team member understands the reason behind that.
Keep in mind that no interior design business evolves without experiencing a few growing pains. Even if you adequately explain the new mission and vision statements, you might run into communication gaps as your company evolves.
In our upcoming post, we explain how to ensure employees communicate with current and future clients in way that honors your brand identity.
Are You Considering a Change to Your Firm’s Vision Statement or Mission Statement?
As many of our readers already know, we host small business workshops designed for creative entrepreneurs every few months. These workshops aim to help entrepreneurs scale their companies by figuring out what they want, setting SMART goals, writing an interior design business plan, and so much more. Over the last year, we have hosted marketing, vision building and hiring workshops, but we are always looking for new topics to delve into.
Let us know in the comments below if writing a new mission statement is something you would like to discuss in further detail during a small business workshop. In addition to workshops, we offer group sessions and one on one coaching. Join interior designer Laura Umansky as we address the biggest challenges facing interior design business owners.
For more small business coaching from Laura and advice from other interior designers in our community, join the Design Dash private Facebook group here. Whether you own an interior design startup or an established firm, we would love to hear from you. Let’s work together to ensure your successful interior design business thrives like never before in 2023.
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