In business, there are several influencers of your strategic thinking/planning time that have a direct impact on your growth. These are your mission, vision, and strategies. These three, often missing, components shift your business growth from being tactical and easily tossed about by change to that of being strategic and sustainable.
Whereas your mission is present tense, your vision is your future. And, for small businesses like yours and mine, business vision is personal.
Visioning isn’t an easy task. It takes uninterrupted time to think through what you really want versus what you think you should want.
Take Three Giant Steps Forward
As a kid growing up, I played "Captain May I" with the local hooligans (i.e., neighborhood kids). The objective of the game was to be the first one to reach the Captain.
"Captain, may I take three steps forward?" was a common request.
Much like accelerating your forward movement to your goal with three giant steps, having a concise, crystal-clear small business vision fast forwards your business success.
Step One: Craft Your Vision
Your vision is a continual source of emotional energy. On days you can't pole vault over a chalk mark, your vision is your uplifting force.
On a scale of 1–10, how would you rate your current vision on its strength to inspire and direct your planning? If your score is anything less than 9–10, it may be time to give your vision some tender loving care.
Consider these components as your re-envision what's most important to you and your business:
- Core values — not to be confused with moral values, core personal values represent the behaviors and activities to which you are naturally drawn. They represent your natural self.
- Problems you hope to solve in the next 10 years for yourself, your family, your industry, and your employees.
- What you want to achieve within the next 10 years. See #2.
- Your buyer and what you want for them.
Step Two: Crystallize Your Vision
Belief in the ability to achieve your desired vision is one of the biggest obstacle for most small business owners. We quickly jump into "how" when facing our vision. "How" is a planning question that immediately dampens belief in one's vision.
Want a more applicable question that doesn't immediately limit your vision to the boring, uninspired, and mundane? Me, too!
Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington, authors of The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months, share a provacative model to shift from a vision that seems impossible to achieve to one that is certain to be obtained.
The process includes moving from "impossible" to "possible" to "probable" to "given".
Start with the impossible and ask yourself “what if.” This elevates your vision to the “possible.”
About the possibilities, ask “how might I.” This moves your vision to that which is probable.
From what is probable, its a short distance to what is given.
Once your vision is given, a strong emotional and mental state is established that keeps you inspired on the days you wonder if Starbucks is hiring.
Step Three: Focus Your Vision
As Thomas Edison aptly pointed out, "A vision without execution is a hallucination." It's sage advice to bring your vision to the level of practical application.
Horizons to include:
- Long-term: i.e., your end game
- Mid-term: Generally this is a 3– 5 year time frame; however, select the vista that makes the most sense for your situation.
- Short-term: This is the point of practical application J.P. Morgan referenced when he said, "Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther." What is your reach? Is it one week? One month? Three months? Whatever your vista, make sure it's in focus.
The Litmus Test
How can you tell your vision is spot on? Ask yourself:
- Is it a source of inspiration and aspiration on a daily, weekly, monthly, annual basis?
- If something were to devastate your business and impact your vision, would you rebuild?