Nearly everyone agrees that successful entrepreneurs have a strong small business vision at the heart of their success, but what does this term mean? Wikipedia defines vision as the foresight to envision future market trends and act accordingly. Merriam-Webster defines vision as anything you can see or dream. However, the best business definition of small business vision may be found on Entrepreneur.com: Vision is the energy that drives successful entrepreneurs.
When identifying the vision behind your startup, it is important to keep the following steps in mind:
Assess Your Values
You need to understand exactly what you want your company to stand for before attempting to articulate it as a vision. The good news is that there’s really no wrong answer here. Every company believes in different things, and nearly any belief system can produce a good vision if you believe in it strongly enough.
For example, a tech company that hopes to be doing something three years from now that no one’s heard of yet might use a broad concept such as “innovation” as their vision. By contrast, a business in the service industry looking to set itself apart with superior service might say that their vision is providing personalized service to every customer. Anything is fine as long as it defines who you are and what you are trying to accomplish.
Keep It Simple
Both examples above are concise and to the point, very much by design. If you have a complicated vision demanding paragraphs to explain, it’s probably more complicated than it needs to be. This means that other areas of your business are likely to be overcomplicated as well, creating an unnecessary barrier between you and success.
Visions also need to be shared with your staff, a task that becomes much simpler if it’s easy to articulate. “We believe in innovation” is a concept that’s very easy for tech developers to get behind, ensuring that your entire company is a united front. If you need to have a company meeting just to explain why everyone is there, you’re more likely to have competing visions damaging the cohesiveness of your operation.
Finally, companies reaching in too many directions at once are more likely to leave each branch with too few resources to accomplish anything. Therefore, a simpler vision is easier to bring to fruition than a more complicated one.
Give Yourself Timeframes
Your company’s vision is like a goal. It shouldn’t be something that you hope to achieve eventually, but instead something attainable within a set timeframe. This allows you to periodically update your vision as your company’s needs evolve.
It’s important to set a realistic time table too. For example, allowing yourself years to accomplish something that could be done in months will artificially stall your growth. Likewise, allowing too little time will ensure that you fail to reach it, hurting company morale. It’s important to get the balance just right to grow aggressively, but realistically.
Be Able To Answer The “Why?”
Nearly anyone your company ends up working with will first ask why it exists. Why should customers choose you? Why should potential investors believe in you? You should anticipate these questions and be able to answer them with minimal hesitation.
This means knowing exactly why you are doing everything your company does. If you know the intrinsic purpose behind every decision you make, the questions above will be among the easiest you ever need to answer. Good luck with your small business vision!