“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller
The business press is full of fawning articles about visionaries and their vision. It makes you think these are rare, special people with qualities us mere mortals could never hope to match.
Maybe some of these people are rare and special, but it isn’t simply because they have a vision.
A vision is a needed for a successful business. It isn’t some mystical thing that only a few can access.
It’s a destination. That’s it. It’s the place you are trying to go.
When thought of that way, its becomes immediately obvious that it’s a necessary thing. If you don’t know the destination, how are you ever going to get there?
You, as the leader, need to be the one who decides on the destination. Without it, your business falls into many of the same traps as a purposeless business:
- You spend all your time and energy lurching from crisis to crisis.
- You are stuck in reaction mode.
- You never make any progress toward your goals.
A business with a vision makes progress from point A to point B. A business without a vision runs around in circles very fast and mistakes that for progress.
Which would you rather do?
You may be asking, what’s the difference between a purpose and a vision?
The purpose of the business is why it exists.
The vision of the business is what it is going to accomplish.
The vision grows from the purpose. So, start with that. As you are creating the vision, make sure it supports your purpose.
So, how do you create a vision for your business? Follow this simple process.
The steps to create your vision
1: Pick a date
The first thing to do is decide when this vision will be reality. Ideally, you can think about your business 3 to 5 years in the future. But many people have an easier time thinking about 1 year in the future. If you are having a hard time visualizing your business 3 years from now, move the date closer to today. What matters is that you can form a clear picture of where you want to be.
You can pick any date you want, but most often you will want to pick a date at the end of a measurement cycle (end of the year, end of the quarter, etc.).
Once you have a date, you need to be thinking about everything else in this process as it will be on that date. We aren’t concerned with how to get there (yet!). Right now, we want to picture your business as it will be.
2: Describe your business’ general statistics
List out the measurable statistics for your business on the date you picked. These are the basic metrics for any business. Use the list below to pick the most relevant ones and to get ideas for others that matter to your business.
- Number of employees
- Number of locations
- Number of clients
- Volume of product sold
- Market share
As with all the steps, you don’t need to create detailed forecasts or very specific plans. You want enough detail to give a clear picture of the the destination, nothing more. When you finish, the whole vision should fit on a single page.
3: Describe your customers
Write out who your customers will be. Briefly sketch out their demographics, their behaviors, and their attitudes. You want to create enough detail that someone can picture the customer when they read it. Four to five sentences is usually enough.
4: Describe your brand
Write out what the market will think about your business. What will it be most known for? How will it be different from the competition? Write down what you hope a customer would say about you. Again, 4 to 5 sentences is plenty.
5: Describe your employees
List out the traits that your employees will have. How will they act? What skills will they have? What will they think about working for your business?
6: Describe your lifestyle
If the business isn’t serving your life, then what’s the point? Briefly describe what your day-to-day life will be like.
If you plan to share this vision with your team (you should), you may want to create two versions. One for public consumption that omits this part, and one for you that includes it.
When you’ve written down each of the items here, you’ll have the rough draft of your vision. As I mentioned, it should all fit on one page. If it’s longer, that’s fine too. It’s your vision. it can be as long or as short as you want it to be.
What to do next
Once you’ve completed the rough draft. Put it away.
Come back in a few days and read it. Edit it. Keep repeating this process until both of the following are true:
- You get a vivid mental picture of what the business will be from what you’ve written. You get bonus points if someone else gets a vivid picture of what the business will be from what you’ve written.
- The prospect of this vision becoming a reality excites you.
Now that you have a clear picture of the destination, you can make decisions that move you closer to it.
What’s your vision? Share in the comments or by email.