Why would you need a Vision for your business?
The notion of Vision statements for businesses became popular in the early 80s. The goal of Vision statements for corporations was to provide an inspiring, motivating, target for employees to strive for. For example, here is Microsoft’s Vision, “A PC in every home running Microsoft® software.” Has Microsoft achieved that goal? No! But, there’s no question about Microsoft’s dominance in the market.
But, you might be saying, “Do I need a Vision? After all I’m just a (pick one) an independent professional, a small business owner.” I believe you do! Why? This quote from Lewis Carroll, “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there,” says it all.
I’ve been coaching independent professionals and consulting with small business owners for more than 20 years and I’ve found that having a Vision has been extremely valuable. A properly crafted Vision statement provides the entrepreneur (and any employees):
- A clear target to shoot for (often a Big Hairy Audacious Goal or BHAG)
- A statement about HOW they want to do business, i.e. their Values, and
- A reason for being in business (beyond profit). So, how do you create a Vision for yourself and your business?
How To Create A Compelling Vision
For the sake of this discussion, I’m going to assume that you’re either an independent solo professional or the owner of a small business (less than 10 employees). Why? Because the process I’m going to describe will result in a very personalized Vision. A Vision that means something to you and that inspires you – each and every day – and your employees, if you have them.
The process I’m going to describe will result in a working draft of your Vision. Plan to spend some time refining the Vision that results from this exercise. Keep tweaking it, till it has powerful emotional appeal. Ready? Here we go:
- Plan to spend a couple of hours on this exercise.
- Find a quiet, comfortable spot where you won’t be interrupted and where you can work comfortably (that’s NOT your local coffee shop).
- When you’re settled in, sit back, relax, close your eyes, and imagine your life/business in ten years.
- Ask yourself these questions:
- Why am in business?
- What difference do I want to make?
- What values do I want this business to express?
- Who do I want to serve?
- What would success look and feel like?
- What do I want to leave behind?
- Your responses may come as words, pictures, or feelings. So, write down the words or feelings that come to you. Or, sketch. Or, if you’re verbal like me, use a mini-recorder and ‘talk out’ your thoughts.
- Once you have everything down on paper, take a 5 to 15 minute breather. I recommend a walk around the room or stretching.
- Come back to your notes and try writing a Vision statement. Some folks recommend a particular formula or structure for Visions but I prefer that you find your own structure.
- Visions need to have emotional power. For example, notice how, in 1961, John F. Kennedy created a compelling Vision for the space program when he said; “This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.” The U.S. landed a man on the moon in 1969!
- I use the acronym V.I.S.I.O.N. to provide a checklist for ensuring your Vision has power. Your Vision doesn’t need to have all the items on this list but do use them to validate the power of your Vision. Let’s take a look at my checklist:
- V – Values: Does your Vision clearly state your values?
- I – Intention: Does your Vision clearly state your Intention, your BHAG?
- S – Sensory: Does your Vision include sensory details like colours, sounds, feelings? It has been said that, “God is in the details!” so add needed sensory details.
- I – Inspiring: Does your Vision make you feel energized and excited? Does it move you to action?
- O – Objectives: Does your Vision contain tangible outcomes? Remember Kennedy’s “before this decade is out”.
- N – Never-Ending: Visions are meant to portray the Ideal, something we keep striving for all “the days of our lives.” · Tuck your Vision away for a few days. Then come back to it and see what stands out for you. What needs to be clearer? Can it be punchier or more compelling?
- And, KNOW THIS, over the years your Vision will evolve and change.
- Finally, REMEMBER it’s YOUR Vision – it needs to speak to you and make you energized. If it doesn’t it needs work!
How Your Vision Can Guide You Great you have a Vision!
Now what? Here are some ways to use your Vision to guide your business:
- When you do Goal setting, use your Vision to guide your goals. Do this by checking your Goals against your Vision by asking, “If I achieve this goal, will it move me closer to my Vision? Does this Goal support my Vision?”
- You can use your Vision to help decide which clients you want in your business. For example, a dentist I coached used his Vision to sort his client list into A, B, C categories based on how their behaviour was congruent with his Vision (holistic dentistry). He found that clients who fit the C category (low compliance with good dental maintenance practices) often created the most work for his staff (e.g. failure to show up for appointments). He stopped recalling these clients and over time his practice became more ideal and was more fulfilling and less painful for him AND his staff.
- You can use your Vision to create performance standards for your staff. For example, we worked with the same dentist to create a performance appraisal process based on his Vision.
These are just a few ideas about what you can do. Remember it’s your Vision, use it to Guide you (and your employees) in ways that make your business grow toward your Vision.
Getting Help With Your Vision
You can create your own compelling Vision. And, you can roll it out in your business. But, if you don’t want to go it alone consider hiring a coach or consultant to help you. Look for a coach who has real-world experience and training in business and management. And, who works primarily with small businesses and solo practices.