Business owners and startup entrepreneurs often spend a great deal of time defining their vision, values, goals and strategy, but these well-known concepts are commonly muddled.

This Adviso blog gives an example, “A strategic plan is sometimes confused with a list of goals—when in fact, it should be a reflection on what success means for the company or organization, and how they plan to optimize for that success.”

These are all separate and distinct things that, if used correctly, can catapult your business into success. When confused, however, you’re less likely to reap the benefits of each.

Get a better understanding of how your vision, values, goals and strategy can help you build a strong company and then put each one to use correctly.

1. Start with Company Values

First and foremost, it’s important to define your company’s core values. This will dictate elements of your branding, marketing and customer experience. It will also eventually play into your company culture. This starts with asking yourself: why does this company exist? Why do I have this business and what can it provide to the world?

The answers to these questions help you determine your company values, which also dictate how you want your employees to interact with others and how audiences connect with your business. What’s more, your core values will help you make decisions, like hiring or letting people go, while also prioritizing goals and plans for the business.

As you brainstorm your core values, Craig Cincotta, an Entrepreneur contributor, suggests a few common values that all businesses should consider:

  • Transparent
  • Accountable
  • Problem Solver
  • Ambitious

It’s important to remember that just like your brand slogan and logo, your values generally don’t change. They should become synonymous with your business, to both you, your customers and employees.

2. Think Big When Defining Your Vision

Every great business has a vision for the future. But unlike a mission statement, which defines where the company should be successful, your vision represents how you think others will respond or change when they have access to your company’s products, services, and success.

Lindsay Kolowich with HubSpot describes vision, saying: “A vision statement describes where the company aspires to be upon achieving its mission…[and] describes where the company wants a community, or the world, to be as a result of the company's services.”

Your vision doesn’t focus on growth rates or revenue but focuses on the future. It defines what you want to create or achieve as someone providing a valuable service or product. As you define your vision, aim for creating clarity and focus.

It’s tempting to talk in vague terms that are difficult for others to interpret, much less follow. Employees, partners, investors, vendors, customers and others must be able to grasp your vision for it to work. For example, IKEA’s vision statement is: “Our vision is to create a better everyday life for many people.”

Straight-forward, clear and concise. Use this as inspiration to define yours.

3. Bring Goals and Strategy Together

Setting goals, and creating a strategy to get there, might be the most challenging step. It’s no secret that people often struggle to achieve their goals, but people and businesses that take a proactive approach to setting and following through with their goals are more likely to be successful. According to a study by Dr. Gail Matthews at Dominican University of California, 70 percent of people who shared their goals and set up regular progress checks were successful compared to 35 percent who kept their goals private.

Here are some examples of goals:

  • Bring in $250K revenue in Q1.
  • Earn 50 new customers in 2020.
  • Drive 50% of leads from Facebook in Q3.

Your goals are your business objectives. So ask yourself: Why do I want to accomplish that? And then, how can I turn that into an actionable and specific goal?

After setting your goals, it’s important to be transparent with your employees about what you hope to achieve, which requires a clear strategy that you and your team will use to reach them. Your strategies aren’t set in stone and may change all the time, in small steps or radical revisions. That’s critical to understand because business conditions, markets, competition, consumer preferences and a wide range of other factors are constantly in flux. If your strategy remains fixed, your business will struggle to compete.

Remember that creating a sound strategy also means choosing what not to do. You can’t do it all, so you have to use your core values to stay focused on what’s important. Think of your strategy like the roadmap you use to achieve your vision and reach your goals, guided by the GPS of your values.

Use Vision, Values, Goals and Strategies to Be Successful

Once your values, vision, goals and strategies are outlined, you can use them together to grow a successful business.

About the Author(s)

 Bridget  Weston

Bridget Weston is the CEO of the SCORE Association, where she provides executive leadership and works directly and collaboratively with the Board of Directors to establish the vision and direction of SCORE.

Keys to Understanding Vision, Values, Goals and Strategy