For any business to succeed it must know what it is about

For any business to succeed it must know what it is about. It must be able to explain what it is there to achieve, and where it ultimately wants to end up. Unfortunately the majority of businesses can’t describe, or don’t have a picture of what they are trying to become. Either it’s just not considered important enough, or they get so caught up in the daily running of the business that there’s no time for thinking beyond the next cycle.

Having a vision and long term goals is essential. After all, if you don’t know where you are going, you’ll never know when you get there.

How Up To Date is your Street Map?

Think of it this way. When you get into a car, turn on the engine and roll out of the driveway, 99.9% of the time you always have a destination in mind. Whether it’s the office, the fast food drive through or a town that is miles away, you know exactly where you are going. And because you know where you are going, you can choose from several routes to get there. Each route will take you where you want to go, but there may be pros and cons associated with choosing one over the other (traffic considerations, length of the trip and so on). Still, you can consciously choose a specific path, to meet your needs on that particular day.

Now imagine getting into your car with no destination in mind. You wouldn’t know when to turn right or left, or when to stop altogether. You could go forwards or in reverse – depending on your mood. You could keep driving around aimlessly forever – until you run out of petrol or the car breaks down.

Not having a long term destination for your business puts many business owners in the “aimless driving” category. If you don’t know where you are heading, then you can make any choice and go in any direction (including backwards). Plans are made based only on the current situation and short term goals. Decisions are taken without having a broader context.

The value in knowing your final destination (your vision) is that you can choose to take the specific paths that lead you there. Your action is intentional and keeps you pointed in the right direction.

Developing a vision for your business creates the context in which all other decisions are made.  The vision statement should stretch expectations, aspirations, and performance. It needs to be powerful enough to excite and motivate both you and your employees. Without that powerful, attractive, valuable vision, why bother?

So now that we’ve agreed that having a vision is a business imperative, how do we create one?

Vision statements can take many forms. Their main purpose is to articulate the “dream” state of your business. If your business could be everything you dreamed, how would it be?

Start by writing your answers to these questions:

When I move on from this business, what do I want to leave behind?

What am I really providing for my customers beyond products and services?

If my business could be everything I dreamed, how would it be?

What will success look like?

What will this business look like when I’ve finished doing everything I want?

Then begin to fashion your answers into one or two statements that encapsulate your intentions. And to give you some inspiration,  here are some real life vision and purpose statements from well known global organizations:

Amazon:                       Amazon.com seeks to be the world’s most customer-centric company, a place where people can find and discover anything they might want to buy online

Microsoft:                      To enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.

Cadbury Schweppes:     working together to create brands people love

World Vision:                 a world that no longer tolerates poverty. 

Your business may not be global or large like these examples. Nevertheless it can still benefit from the clarity and purpose a vision provides. So dream big. And make your professional life truly rewarding and satisfying.

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