Practical Vision in Small Business | Up and to the Right | Episode 042

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Do we really need to write down our “Vision” as small business owners? Isn’t that just a Wall Street thing?

Being clear about your vision is about more than wall hangings or motivational posters. It’s about more than a twitter post or an infographic.  It’s about more than customer relationships or product development.

Do a search on the web or your favorite book vendor for business vision and you’ll have mountains of material.

I’ve read my share and while they’ve all had value none of them framed the value of an articulated vision in a practical, useful way that I felt small business owners could well… own.

So, to that end, here’s the short, practical and actionable vision… of Vision.

For more detailed information listen to the audio version of the podcast or watch the livestream recording.

Business Principle(s)

  • Vision

Defining Vision

Before we can get started using our vision to change our business (and then the world) we need to agree on what ‘vision’ means in the context of business.

In episode 41 of Up and to the Right I defined Vision as follows:

“Understanding your place in the social & economical environment today and into the future even beyond what you can reliably see.”

I’m going to take a bit of artistic license and amend it to this.

“Understanding your impact in the social & economical environment today and into the future even beyond what you can reliably see.”

Entrepreneurs don’t do all this work to have a ‘place’ we do it to make an impact.

What is different about the world with your business in it?

For Beyond 50 Percent it’s this.

“Successful small business ownership is the rule… not the exception.”

This short statement shares the change we want to make in the world and our target market. 

If you read a few books or do some research you’re going to find two things I think you may want to avoid.

  1. The idea that your vision is what you want your company to look like in the future.
  2. The idea that your vision is a ‘goal’.

Why?

  1. I like the idea that your vision is about more than a company… it’s about the impact you are working toward.
  2. To me a goal is something you strive for, achieve, and move on from where a vision is the benefit of an impact on others. A vision is evergreen as they say.

Articulating & Creating Your Vision

First things first here. It may take a while to hone your vision. That’s fine. It’s important not to let perfect be the enemy of good here.

To the first order vision as I see it has three considerations but only two components.

Considerations
  1. Impact
  2. Beneficiary
  3. Timelessness
Components
  1. Impact - what is different in the world as a result of your organization’s existence?
  2. Beneficiary - who is your direct beneficiary (customer)?

I think there’s a temptation (read… expectation) to come up with something profound or clever and that expectation becomes a barrier between owners and the creation and use of a vision statement.

While your vision will describe the impact you want to have for the customers you serve… the vision statement itself is primarily for your use. Yes there is a marketing angle to this if you want to use it for that but the point is to clarify your thinking and drive your own decision making process.

Getting Value Out of Your Vision

And now what?

If you’re like me you aren’t excited about something that doesn’t actively help your business.

I hear you!

What I can tell you is that by understanding the impact you want to have and the customer group that will benefit from that impact you’ll be able to quickly decide if a course of action is right for your company or better left to someone else.

If a new process or product doesn’t promote your desired impact it’s a no-go even if it might benefit your customer base. If a new process or product might create impact but not for your desired customer it’s a no-go.

What about ‘diversification’?

It’s certainly possible that you may see an opportunity that is indirectly related to your vision. Is it okay to ‘expand your vision’?

I’ll answer your question with two questions.

  1. Do you have the resources to pursue this new direction sufficiently to be of value in the market without removing value from your existing efforts?
  2. Have you truly exhausted all the reasonable efforts that support your vision as it exists today?

Let’s be real. Small businesses are resource poor and efforts that don’t support our mission become black holes for our already limited resources.

Practical Action

There are compelling reasons to create and document a vision statement for your company.

Let’s take a practical look at making it happen and getting useful value out of both the process and the day to day use.

  1. Don’t overthink it. If you have the time and money and you want to go on a retreat somewhere to collect your thoughts and be inspired by a change of scenery by all means go for it. If; however, you’re trying to scrape together enough to pay rent or simply not interested in the existential head clearing that’s fine.
    1. Just write down what impact you want your business to have.
    2. Look at the people that will benefit from the impact you just documented and write them down.
    3. Now combine those things into a single statement.
    4. Remember it doesn’t have to be pretty it just has to be usable… by you!
  2. Put it somewhere you can refer to when you need to make decisions for your business.

“Does this support or enhance our ability to fulfill our vision?”

Small business owners and teams can benefit greatly from having, articulating and using a company vision.

What is your vision? Drop a comment with your thoughts. Connect with me to keep in touch and share ideas!

Closing

What are your thoughts on getting practical value out of your vision in small business? Share your own vision! Send an email to go.beyond@b50p.com and I'll read some on the show!

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