The most cliché of all startup vision statements

A standing joke in the (much recommended!) HBO series Silicon Valley is how every startup claims to “make the world a better place”, however incredible it is that this is actually their real focus. Still, in a world were most of the messages we get on how we can improve things are focused on how to make as little impact as possible, it may be very healthy to turn things around for a moment. Contributing to the common future can be more than just reducing our individual consumption of different goods, reducing the emissions and waste we contribute to and reducing the resources we consume. Don’t get me wrong – we certainly do need to work on reducing our negative impact, but if we want to somehow figure out how we as individuals can contribute most to making the world better we should probably focus on maximizing positive impact rather than minimizing the negatives.

Startups do change the world

However washed-out “making the world a better place” may sound, there is little doubt that entrepreneurs who introduce new technologies or found major enterprises have a large impact shaping the world around us. While there is no inherent guarantee that impact will be a positive force, it certainly can be. And though good intentions are not all that matters it goes a long way, especially when combined with critical thinking. If positive impact is really a crucial goal for the founders, emphasising this in a clear vision statement can be a useful tool to make sure that other investors and team-members who join along the way agree on the same priorities and principles.

Some startups mean every word of it

Even though every startup is not – and need not be – driven by virtuous ideals, there are clearly entrepreneurs that rather than merely pasting on a generic do-good vision at the end of their power-points actually start at the vision of world improvement and work from there, inside-out. This is not an easy approach. It takes honesty and courage to acknowledge when financial opportunities are not aligned with your vision, and tons of integrity to stick to your vision when that is the case. And yet, when you really mean what you say and are prepared to put your money (and blood, and sweat, and tears, and thousands of hours) where your mouth is, then yes – I do believe that your startup can really make the world better.

Read more about the approach of maximizing individual impact:
https://80000hours.org/career-guide/how-much-difference-can-one-person-make/