- Think of your mission statement as your “why” and your vision as your what. Values are the sometimes hidden “rules” you live by that shape every decision.
You’ve probably seen a mission statement in your office. It goes up on the wall, and if it’s really good, you might pause and reflect. Sadly, most mission statements are not memorable.
So why create one at all if it’s destined to be written down and forgotten?
When I first got into the real estate business, I didn’t see any need for a mission, vision or values statement. I would have laughed at this article because the mission was easy: make money.
As time went on, I quickly found that without a clear mission I was set adrift like a boat with no anchor and no rudder.
To save you from that same misery, let’s go through how to create the perfect mission, vision and values statements with advice from other agents and brokers.
Start with your ‘why’
A good mission statement has the power to take your business from one that can achieve success to one that can be significant.
To craft the best mission statement, which ultimately will shape your vision for your company, you have to start with your big “why.”
In Simon Sinek’s popular Ted Talk (and later book) “Start With Why,” he talks about how truly great companies have a well-defined “why” statement and how ultimately customers want to buy why you do something versus what. (Catch Simon Sinek’s talk at Inman Connect New York).
Let’s take a look at Steve Job’s mission statement for Apple when the company experienced its explosion in growth:
“To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”
Note: When the company was working under this mission, it flourished, and when it’s taken a departure, it faltered. It’s currently not using this anymore, so time will tell.
Let’s look at more mission statements:
“To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” – Starbucks
“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” – Google
How about a popular real estate franchise:
“To build careers worth having, businesses worth owning, and lives worth living.” – Keller Williams
Keys to mission statements
Connect it to purpose
Vanessa Pollock, a Realtor in New Jersey who has a very successful team and also runs a nonprofit called Care Serve Give, said:
“New agents need to dig deep into three core questions: how are they wired up to be successful, what injustice in the world breaks their heart that they’d like to make better, and what character trait to they want to be known for? When those three answers intersect, there is a clarity of purpose and mission.”
Clients and team members alike love to know that what they do has a bigger impact than a simple transaction.
Make it portable
Andy Stanley, a successful author, speaker and mega-church pastor said that a mission statement needs to be portable.
In fact, when I went to write this, I wanted to use Disney’s famous “Make people happy,” but its new mission statement is hardly portable.
You should be able to remember it and take it with you.
“Ask what makes you unique and what do you intend to do better than anyone else,” suggested Chris LaGarde, a Pennsylvania real estate team leader.
Bonus: Combine your own personal mission and that of your clients.
This is subject I’m pretty passionate about. When I was doing real estate full time our mission was, “moving families forward.” This mission statement came from the sense of purpose we had helping families during the short sale era.
“I think the best way agents can create their mission statement is by tapping into who they are, why they serve the people they serve and what gets them out of bed in the morning,” explained Wendy Foreman, a Realtor in Oklahoma City.
Best practices when creating a mission statement
- Write as much of a mission statement as you can. It’s OK if it’s a full paragraph.
- Then get rid of any nonessential wording. Try to narrow it down to a sentence.
- Ask key questions: Is it memorable? Is it brandable? Does it excite you?
Crafting a vision
If the mission is the reason the company exists, then the vision is the picture of the future company.
If the mission is the “why,” then vision is the what.
“The importance of a vision, mission and values composition for a business is that it provides the map and compass for the business. The vision is where you are going (the destination),” said Christopher Hart, a real estate agent and coach.
Crafting a vision doesn’t have to feel as artistic as creating a mission statement. In fact, I contend that those supposed mission statements that you find so forgettable are actually vision statements with no mission.
For example, “To be the real estate company of choice.” It’s hardly creative or inspiring, but when paired with the right mission and the right values, it’s adequate.
The best vision statements are ones that bring clarity to your purpose.
So while mission can be about truly anything you’re passionate about, a vision is likely about what you’re doing and where you’re going.
Reilly McGregor, Harborview Realty in Marco Island, Florida, said, “Make sure it is something you believe in yourself and practice daily. If you don’t believe it and live it, the public won’t believe you.”
Starbucks’s vision statement is: “to establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.”
Chris LaGarde combined his mission and vision to, “Dramatically impact lives through real estate.”
His real estate company’s mission is to impact lives, and his vision is through real estate.
Finally, your vision will shift as time goes on. While your mission may or may not ever change, your vision will continually shift.
“Your vision will evolve. When I started, my vision was centered on me and my personal goals. Now that my wife has joined me and now that my kids are becoming interested in the family business, my vision is evolving to include their perspectives,” explained Abraham Walker, a Virginia-based agent.
One thing that will likely never change is your values. In my opinion, you could easily start this process here, with values first. Values are the sometimes hidden “rules” you live by that shape every decision.
As a real estate agent, you first need to realize that you are a business. Secondly, you need to define your values, or you run the risk of adhering to someone else’s values because yours was never clearly defined.
Typically, values are words that we’re all familiar with like integrity, honesty and growth. To better help you with this exercise, let me walk you through a clarifying exercise.
Value clarifying exercise
- Write down all character traits or values you subscribe to. It could be money, adventure, fun, growth, honesty — feel free to make this list as long as you like.
- Now, go through your list, and select your top 10 to 12.
- Now, go through that same list and select your top five to eight.
- Bonus: If you really want to discover more about yourself, pick one.
There are no wrong answers here. Out of your top 10 to 12, which ones define you, your real estate business, and if you really want to nail it, add the values of your potential clients.
Dr. Rob McCleland, the former CEO of EQUIP and founder of LeaderTribe, said, “’Integrity, truthfulness, service.’ Those are just ‘permission to play’ in today’s economy. Your values have to be who you truly are. What are you willing to die for? Say that! Then be ready to prove it to your clients.”
Summing it all up
Creating a mission, vision and values (MVV) statement isn’t just some business exercise that you do and archive. It becomes the driving force that gives your business (and sometimes your life) a true purpose and its ultimate uniqueness.
To put it another way, it can become the filter with which you process every decision through. Lead generation, hiring and client care can all be put through this new MVV filter.
So whether you’re brand new or an experienced agent, taking the time to clearly define your mission, vision and values is time well spent.