Business owners are called “Captains of Industry” for a reason. A captain knows the destination, plots the journey, checks the weather, ensures the right crew and resources are on-board, and how to steer a safe course. That is the core of vision. Not just knowing where you want to go, but how you plan to get there. As Theodore Hesburgh said:
“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you can articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”
As the owner of your business, it’s your vision and your dream that will drive others to follow you. The vision you put in place will galvanise your team, excite your customers, attract new talent and draw investors. But what if you’re unsure about your vision? What if it’s not pin-sharp enough to take you forward? Here are some steps to find and implement your vision.
Plan your future.
It may be a while since you started your business, so the start of a New Year is a good time to take a breather and write down the vision you set out for your company. Ask yourself, does it still get your heart rate going? Is it clear? Does it reflect your business today? Is it relevant to the market you’re in? Are your employees and customers excited by it? If the answer to any of these is “no”, then perhaps it’s worth reconsidering what your vision is.
Start by writing down what you want your business to achieve? The more specific the better. Perhaps it’s to become the most innovative business in your sector or be better than your main competitor. Look at your business and ask if everything is in place to realise this vision. Then write down the timeframe for achieving this. Depending on your business, this could be weeks or even years. But what is vital is to have a target that you build around and move towards. It’s the difference between a business going full-steam ahead, and one that’s becalmed, wondering what to do next.
In the context of vision, ask yourself what your brand means to you and what it represents to others? Have you got a distinctive brand offering? Do you deliver to customers in a way that builds brand loyalty and respect? Is your brand one that attracts and keeps the right sort of talent?
The strongest brands are born out of a clear vision from the founders. They knew what they wanted to achieve and set about delivering it. If you’re unsure about this, consider how you’d like your brand to be perceived, then encapsulate this in a pithy one-liner that everyone can get behind. Here are some examples of vision statements:
- To make people happy (Disney).
- A just world without poverty (Oxfam).
- Empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more (Microsoft).
These statements can be a light to both guide and galvanise. As Charles Kettering said:
“I intend to spend the rest of my life in the future, so I want to be reasonably sure of what kind of future it’s going to be.”
To have a vision that others can buy into, consider where you stand in your marketplace. You need to know that your vision is delivering not just internally, but externally. One way is to enter industry awards. This can show how you’re performing and where you sit compared to others in your market. Are you outperforming or underperforming? Is your vision working?
Again, ask your customers what they think. How loyal are they to your brand? What do they think of your current offering or products? Research and feedback are vital if you’re to know that your vision is truly delivering.
Your shop window.
You may not be in retail, but you still have a shop window, it’s called your office (or perhaps, in the online world, it’s your website). It’s the place where customers and clients go. Ask yourself what impression does it give? Does it bring customers back? Does it make them happy? Do your team enjoy their working environment? Does it make them proud? Does it reflect the vision you set out for your company?
Even if you haven’t created the perfect shop window, you should aim to have one that supports your vision, and makes a strong statement about who you are, and what you want to be. If your vision is about innovation, your office should reflect this. If it’s about fun, then fun is what needs to be on show. Your vision should be like the words in a stick of rock, it should run through everything.
As we head into 2020, it’s worth considering your vision. It’s a vital component of every business. A strong vision generates value, because of its power to unite and excite your employees, your suppliers, your partners, and your customers. It adds real worth and is something investors and shareholders look for. So, even if exiting isn’t on your radar, it’s worth ensuring your vision is both strong enough and clear enough to be generating value for your business in the coming year.
To see if your current vision is delivering, take the Value Builder Scorecard. It will show you how your business is performing, and what it’s potential could be.