Do you remember what prompted you to go into business for yourself? Have you stayed true to that initial vision? Do you even have a vision for your business?
Challenging economic times require a clearly defined company vision and a well thought out strategy to achieve that vision. Successful business owners and executives understand that having a clear vision for future growth is key to managing day-to-day operations, making decisions and ultimately achieving success.
For those who don’t have a clearly defined vision, here are four steps to help clarify a vision for business:
- Step 1: Take a moment to project into the future and envision what your ideal business might look like in three years. George Bernard Shaw once said, “Some men see things as they are and say, ‘Why?’ I dream things that never were, and say, ‘Why not?’” When envisioning your business in three years, consider what your staff might look like, who your vendors will be, your location, your products and services, customers and your workload. Your vision is about possibilities — what could be. Summarize your vision and make it visible for you and your staff as a reminder of where your company is heading.
- Step 2: Consider what your business now looks like. Try to view your business from the perspective of an outsider. What do you see? Include your staff, products and services, vendors, customers and workload.
- Step 3: To begin to move your company forward from where you are today toward the vision you have in three years, you must gain a clear understanding of the gaps that exist. Identify those gaps and list the changes that must occur to help you reach your vision.
- Step 4: Now that you have a vision of where you would like to see your company in three years, an understanding of the current state of your business and the gaps that exist between the two, set concrete goals and action steps for achieving your three-year vision. Remember that your goals need to be SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. Remember to write down these goals and refer back to them regularly to make sure you’re staying on track.
As you go through the process, stay committed to achieving your vision by remembering this famous quote by Benjamin Franklin: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
A great article to help you begin thinking about your vision is available online from the Harvard Business Review. The article, by James Collins and Jerry Porras, is titled “Building Your Company’s Vision.”
Assistance also is available from the network of Small Business Development Centers across Colorado.
Tameka Montgomery is executive director of the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center. Reach her through the Web site at www.denversbdc.org.