When I talk to small business owners about their vision I hardly ever receive a crystal clear response.
Typically people have a rough idea of what they want to achieve but they’re so entrenched within the day to day detail of their business that they rarely stop to solidify their vision for the future.
I often get asked why a vision is so important anyway. What I hear is: why bother with a vision statement at all? Isn’t a rough outline of what I want to achieve enough? And aren’t vision and mission statements just for big, faceless companies so they can try and appear more personal?
Isn’t this just for big businesses?
Well, let me answer those in reverse order. Are vision & mission statements just for big businesses? No absolutely, categorically not! In fact, if anything, they’re far more relevant for small businesses because it’s so much easier to make them a real, personal, passionate driving force behind a business when you only have to engage a few people instead of a few hundred or even a few thousand. When every single person in a business understands & is really focused on the company’s vision that’s when it becomes really powerful and big businesses struggle with that.
Isn’t a rough idea enough?
So, isn’t a rough outline of what I want to achieve enough? Well it’s certainly a start and it’s a lot more than many small business owners have. Those who can’t see a way to get off the hamster wheel long enough to develop something slicker, smarter, more profitable and frankly a lot more fun than it is now. A clear vision must be in writing and summarised in only 1 or 2 sentences. The main reason you need to document it is because of the clarity it will then provide for all of your decisions. It effectively creates some non-negotiable boundaries for your future choices. With a clear vision in place the next time somebody asks you to do something out of the ordinary you can ask yourself whether it would move you closer to your vision or further away. If it takes you closer then go for it! You may have just stumbled across a new product or income stream that will help you grow your business.
But if it won’t move you closer to your vision then you must say no, no matter how interesting, unusual or exciting the invitation seems because it will only drag you off course and sooner or later you’ll have to back-track just to get you back to where you are now. Then you’d have to plan all over again how you’re going to move forwards and not sideways.
But why should I bother?
So the final question: why bother with a vision statement at all? Well there are masses of reasons, not least because your vision should be the fire in the belly of your business. It’s what will keep you getting out of bed on those dark, miserable mornings when everything feels like a thankless task. It’s also what sets you apart from your competitors because your vision should capture what’s so great about you and ensure that you don’t lose sight of that within all the day to day demands of your business.
Your vision will also help you attract the right people that your business needs to succeed. By sharing your vision as part of your recruitment process you will see in the blink of an eye who is excited by your plans and who is just there so they can pay the bills. Your mission statement should briefly outline the ethics of your company, how you will treat customers and what kind of customers you want to cater for. That will ensure that your company efforts and marketing message are focused on attracting the best clients so that you no longer have to deal with the time-wasters and mood-sappers.
I hope I’ve convinced you, at least a little bit, why having a clear vision and mission is so important for your business. Watch out for another article very soon that will help you start to create a vibrant and exciting vision for your business.