Our business is an Internet sales business. Mission, vision and values contribute to defining what that business is, who its target market is and how the business model is going to work. As Radtke (1998) notes, every organization has a purpose for being. That purpose drives most of what the organization does. Thus, the mission statement should provide a clear sense of mission for the company to follow. In creating an online retailer, the mission statement should read something like this:
"Our mission is to provide luxury goods and high-end service to wealthy customers around the world, using an online sales model."
A mission statement like that tells all the stakeholders of the company what we do, who our customers are and how we are going to do it. The mission statement needs to have that level of clarity in order that it continues to guide the organization's strategy for years to come. Future generations of managers can look at that mission statement and understand what the company does, and this is important has the company grows and no longer relies on a sole leader for its decision-making.
The vision statement is slightly different, and should reflect a more abstract concept but one that conveys the benefit that the company offers. It can be as simple as references to market domination and profit, but often the vision statement is more powerful if it conveys a broader sense of purpose. The vision statement can provide a framework for the organization but it should also be inspiring (Ward, 2011). While it is far from concise, Google encapsulates its vision in "10 things" that effectively guide the company's strategy and tactics (Google, 2011). This vision comprises a number of elements, but each of them finds its way in to the company's strategy, allowing Google to be flexible and innovative in determining what results it wants to achieve and how it wants to achieve them.
Embedded in Google's philosophy are elements that might be best characterized as values, for example "Democracy on the web works" and "you can make money without doing evil." These values also contribute to the way that the company does business. For example, Android is an open platform while most of the other major smartphone platforms (Apple and Blackberry in particular ) are closed platforms. The company also promotes democracy on the web by fighting Internet censorship. Values help the stakeholders of the company understand how the company intends to operate, how it will tackle challenges and how it might be expected to respond to ethical challenges. Google's conflict with China came as a surprise to few, for example, because China's approach to the Internet directly contrasts with Google's values of democracy and openness.
Our business is an Internet retailer. The Internet retailing business is cluttered with a large number of retailers, some of which are exclusive online (Amazon, Tiger Direct, etc.) and many of which are primarily offline businesses that happen to have an online presence. We see that most retailers online focus on a cost leadership strategy or differentiate themselves with vastness of selection. Where we see an opportunity in the market is marketing luxury goods online, as most online retailers more or less ignore this market. We feel that the rise of mobile computing is going to bring more opportunity for online retailers as consumers become comfortable with purchasing anything from anywhere.
We have posted our mission statement above and outlined its value. The vision statement encompasses something more than a mere business model; it encompasses our philosophy and to that end we have as our vision statement:
"Online retailing should be easy, and if it is made to be easy it will become the only way that we shop. Our goods announce our customers' status as successful people and we will make such proclamations so easy it seems wrong."
The guiding principles or values for a business can help to define how one goes about conducting business, and not in terms of business model but in terms of ethics. It is important for businesses to define their beliefs, otherwise their customers, competitors and the market will do it for you (Sugars, 2010). Most businesses take guiding principles or values for granted, but as the business grows a statement of guiding values is important because it makes it easier for…