The ABC's of Business Planning - What's Your Vision?
What is your vision for your business?
The importance of having a vision of your business is so undervalued. It is an absolutely vital part of the success of your business and holding your team and clients together.
"A vision statement is a company's road map, indicating both what the company wants to become and guiding transformational initiatives by setting a defined direction for the company's growth."
Why would I need a vision?
A vision is the guiding light in the long term future of what you would like your company to become or achieve. It's a short, positive, easy-to-understand statement explaining the overall why of your company.
Whether it's your team, clients or suppliers, it should be clear to everyone who reads it where your company is heading. It must ignite and inspire the hearts of those that are part of your team, so as to achieve this vision. It is a public declaration of your outcomes.
How long in the future should my vision be?
Some people have a five or ten year vision. Some, 100 years. When would you like to achieve your dream outcome? How far in advance can you see your business achieving its goal? It's totally up to you.
Is my business vision and personal vision the same?
"What happens if my vision is to sell my business and go fishing?"
That's perfect as your personal vision. However, this is something that needs to be kept private from the business vision as this is not going to ignite the hearts of the people working in your business. A picture of you in that boat fishing with a date on it, is perfect for your vision board at home. Vision boards are a great tool to visualise what an ideal outcome is for you - and by all means, it is important for you to have a personal vision as well (which often ties into your business vision).
How do I write my vision statement?
Your business vision is separate from your personal vision - it is the glue that cements the team together and engages their heart and their brain. It's the end point of your business plan, that is understood by all your team so they can work together. Working with their hearts and their brains, through the written steps of how to achieve the vision, means everyone can see where they are going and how; which makes the vision clear and believable.
If you think about five or ten or twenty years in the future, if your company is the best in the industry, what would it look like? Sometimes it takes a little time and soul searching to get really clear on your company vision. It's great to get your team involved in creating an awesome vision statement and this way, they can be part of creating the future and they will be more passionate about helping you achieve the company vision.
What are the benefits of having a clear vision?
The long-term benefits of going through this clarification are substantial. In fact, a Deloitte study in 2016 determined that "You will become 8 times more successful over a 10 year period when work on heart and soul of your business."
Everyone goes through ups and downs, and businesses are no different. If you have a clear vision of where you are heading, it's much easier to stay on track. As a team pulling together in one direction , you are far more powerful than lots of people going in different directions.
A common misconception that people are mostly motivated by money, is far from true. Being part of a team and being part of something bigger than them is far more rewarding. In his book 'Great by Choice' by Jim Collins, he talks about level 5 leadership where people are motivated by things above their own ego; they want to leave a legacy that may last longer than them.
The process and outcomes of visioning may seem vague and superfluous but the long-term benefits are substantial. Visioning:
- breaks you out of boundary thinking;
- provides continuity and avoids the stutter effect of planning fits and starts;
- identifies direction and purpose;
- promotes interest and commitment and laser-like focus;
- encourages openness to unique and creative solutions whilst building confidence;
- builds loyalty through involvement and ownership; and
- results in efficiency and productivity.
The above can alert stakeholders to the need to change - and if you want to achieve a different result, you need to make changes.
Still don't know where to start?
I have outlined some vision statement examples below to help you get creative. Some you will instantly recognise, and others may help you understand what a vision statement is about:
- "A just world without poverty", Oxfam.
- "To be the best quick service restaurant experience", McDonalds
- "Be one of the World's Leading Providers of Entertainment and Information", Disney
- "A world without Alzheimer's disease", Alzheimer's Association
- "To create a better everyday life for the many people", IKEA
I recommend if you are going to create an awesome vision statement with your team, get out of your normal environment and go somewhere that inspires and activates your right brain - away from the normal day-to-day business routine.
Simon Senik's pertinent tweet says: "Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first."
The clearer you and your team are on the future picture/vision/dream of the best possible business, the simpler it is to achieve it and everyone can start to be the people they need to be and do the things they need to do to achieve it.
Start with why...
Simon Senik explains the power of leaders inspiring action with his incredible TED talk Start with Why. I highly recommend you watch this.
Whenever you have something important you want to achieve, it all starts with the dream and vision of achieving it. It doesn't matter if it is a sporting achievement, perfect life partner, house or business - the dream is where it all starts. That's the magnet that draws you to achieving it.
When my husband and I were first married in early 1985, we spent some time planning our next 50+ years together, dreaming and writing everything we wanted to achieve - from children and holidays, to business and investments.
Tragically, my husband was caught in a terrible house fire which left him with third-degree burns to over 30% of his body. After three days in the ICU, he was teetering between life and death; even giving up for a few minutes, before he came back.
I later asked him what made him come back, to which he replied,
"We'd only just started our journey together and I kept seeing all those dreams and plans we had laid out for our life together and I couldn't let you down. I knew that it was going to be tough, but we had a vision and I couldn't let it go."
It was in that moment that I truly learnt how very powerful having a vision can be in engaging your heart and brain to go in the direction of your dreams.