You’d never dream of setting out on a trip without a specific destination in mind, yet many of us start businesses without a clear idea of where we’re headed, or what we want our company to look like in the future. If you want your business to succeed, it’s important to define exactly what success will look like for you and for your company.
The road map for your journey – the picture of your ultimate destination – will be set forth in your vision statement. Vision and mission statements are closely related and have similarities. Essentially, your mission statement is the “what” your business is all about; the vision statement is the “where” your company is headed.
A vision statement is a short, memorable and inspiring word picture of your company’s ideal future. A well-thought-through, carefully crafted vision statement will give shape, direction and continuity to your company’s future. It will inspire actions that will lead you in the right direction and discourage unproductive ‘short-term thinking.’
Without a vision statement, circumstances may take you where you never intended to go. Anne is a talented artist who began her business five years ago designing beautiful, unique websites for high-end real estate developers. She loved her work and looked forward to each day at the office. The business prospered and Anne soon had more work than she could handle alone. She hired a subcontractor, then another. Today, Anne plays the role of a project manager, supervising others rather than doing the creative work that is her passion. The company appears successful and provides a good living, but Anne is unfulfilled, has little enthusiasm and no longer enjoys running her business. There are no easy solutions. Setting out with a clear vision of what she wanted her company to become could have prevented her current dilemma. Creating a vision statement is a worthwhile investment of your time and energy.
Your vision statement should:
Be short and memorable
Describe in simple, very specific, powerful language what you want your company to look like in the future
Identify clear direction and promote laser-like focus
Be positive and inspiring, and generate pride and excitement in employees and team members
Encourage you to keep going through the tough times
Creating Your Vision Statement:
We recommend that you first establish your mission statement, keeping your beliefs and core values in mind. This will provide the foundation for writing your vision statement. Crafting a vision statement can be done on your own, or you can brainstorm as a group with other key people in or associated with your business. It will take time, but it’s a rewarding and fun project.
Take a large sheet of paper, or use a flip chart, and describe your desired future. Imagine that you’re looking at your business as you’d like to see it five years from today. What is it like? Where is it located? What sort of a building? What does it look like? Are there employees? How many? What is the annual revenue? Who are your biggest clients? What is your role in the company? Envision everything, down to the smallest details, exactly how you would like to see it. Record it all. Remember to consider your exit strategy. Be outrageously creative and think big!
As you brainstorm, beware of the following vision killers:
Thinking too small
Fear of ridicule – what others may think or say
Focusing on negatives and potential problems
Thinking ‘inside the box,’ doing things the way they’ve always been done
Apathy – content with the status quo
Pulling It All Together
Review your descriptions, keep them all in front of you and begin to condense them into a clear and powerful statement of no more than one or two sentences. Refine and rewrite it. Make every word count!
It’s a good idea to occasionally review your future vision of the business, and make sure this is still the direction you want to go. Adjusting or changing your vision statement is easy, but without one, you significantly decrease the possibility of reaching your goal.
Don’t underestimate the power of a clear, well-written vision statement to guide you in the direction you want to take your business and your life! Don’t postpone this project. Set a date and time now to create your vision statement, keep it where you can see it often, and start moving towards your desired destination!