BUSINESS LEADERSHIP SERIES:

Your Guiding Light — Your Vision

Prologue

The entrepreneur has become the new pioneer. Current technology has created the capability for entrepreneurs to start a potentially viable business with little capital and few, if any, employees.  As a result, businesses are sometimes started based on specific knowledge or expertise but the owners have little or no background or training in leading a business.  Even seasoned business owners can get so caught up in daily operations they never find the time to deal with management issues and soon things feel out of control.  As the owner of your business, it’s your job to be the leader.  It’s critical that you take decisive, directive action and be responsible for the outcomes.

Leaders are proactive rather than reactive.  My intent is to “lead” you through a mini-course in business leadership so you will know how to be proactive.  If that sounds like it could be valuable, read on.

Solidifying Your Vision

Let’s start at the beginning. The most basic thing about any creation is that it started from a thought, a dream, an idea, a passion. In creating a business it’s referred to as the Business Vision. As a vision, it is intangible. Our job is to lead the forces that will make it a tangible reality.

So the vision is the first element that must be refined and defined.  I say “defined” because it needs to be in writing.  Your vision is the guiding light toward which all other activities are to be directed. It’s what you want your business to become when it’s fully mature. Without a “vision” of where you want your business to go, how will you ever get there?

First, do some brainstorming. The key is to allow your thinking to be free flowing–don’t restrict any thoughts. Capture all ideas that come to mind. Be descriptive. This is where you want to call upon your personal passion, that which motivated you to take up this business in the first place. Consider the following and how they might fit together into a mental image.

  • Scope of Products or Services
  • Company Image
  • Role as Owner
  • Target Market and Scope of Market
  • Communication with Market
  • Alliances, Partners
  • Impact of Your Personal Strengths and Values
  • Personal Reward from Business
  • Exit Strategy

If you have colleagues, associates or employees whose judgment and insight you respect, talk with them to see how they view your business and what potential they see.  You may get some good ideas that will expand upon your original thoughts.  Of course, ultimately the vision has to be yours.  Look for what makes you feel excited and creates a strong desire to achieve.  Then WRITE it and put it in a place where you can see it every day.  Try to keep it to one or two sentences.  As you make decisions on a daily basis, use your vision as a point of reference.  Then choose the decision that most closely supports your vision. That’s the real value of the vision –to keep you focused on where you want to go. It’s also the foundation for setting annual goals and creating a one-year plan, which we’ll do in later issues.

Since I suggest that my clients plan their business around their strengths and a viable market niche, keep these in mind as you are writing your vision statement. They’re basic elements for success.

This is the ideal time to begin adopting the behavior that will have you functioning as the leader (as opposed to reactor) of your business for the rest of the year. With your vision to keep you on track, you’re much less likely to get lost.

Assignment

OK, are you ready? If so, your assignment is to go through the process of creating or updating your business vision and putting it in writing.

Remember a vision is abstract. This assignment takes you through the steps of refining the abstract and committing it to a written statement. See the vision in your mind first, then create a picture in writing that describes your vision. This is the first step toward making it a reality. Then find or create your own pictorial or graphic image that has the “feeling” of what you envision. Put your written vision and image near your workspace so you can see it daily. Allow it to begin to permeate your thinking and feel the excitement as you read and view it.

Now you’re on your way. Have fun!