Creating A Vision For Your Business

    July 30, 2005

The basic premises of designing an effective vision are as follows. You must believe there is always a better way.

If you don’t think there is a better way to run the business, then you don’t need to create visions or strategies. If you do adopt this belief, it will keep you (and your client) aware that you need to monitor, review, and assess what you are doing, looking for what you could do better. The owner often feels that what they are achieving is good enough for now.

Otherwise they would have changed it before now. Most owners won’t realize they even need to create a vision, so you will have to introduce them to this. Work backwards. Shift your mind set from incremental plodding forward, to having the owner see where they want to be 1, 2, or 3 years from now, and then work backwards.

People are ill-prepared for the future. People do have ambitions to grow and thrive – and that’s even more justification to create a vision. Just know that most people don’t know how to prepare for the future, what skill sets are needed, etc. You will have to help them with this.

A real vision has to be based on real desires. No matter how many mental pictures we form about the future, the vision will not be real to us unless it is based on our real desires.

As a business owner, vision means thinking for yourself and maintaining a clear image of your distant goals. In our work with entrepreneurs and the owners of small businesses, vision is that future they want to create, and in so doing, they unlock their potential, slot in their interest and generate excitement.

Vision is the underlying reason for why they do what they do in the first place. It is very closely related to purpose and to mission.

Step 1 Surface and refine the owners personal vision

The first step is designed for the owner to self-reflect that the vision is based on their real desires.

Some questions to ask yourself/the owner at this point may be: How do you want your story to go? Thirty years down the line? What do you want your life to look like to others? How do you want your life to feel on a day to day basis? What do you want to say you truly know in your life and about your life? How would I like to be with other people? How do I want people to think about me? Turn these questions into a strategic objective What is the game you are playing? What are you values? Income – How much money do I need to live the way I wish? Am I in the business I want to be in? Who is my ideal customer? Note: Working on creating your vision and the vision of your business with a business Coach can seriously enhance the quality and effectiveness of the end result.

Step 2 Create a first draft

Build on the work accomplished in step one. The owner will have drawn from his or her personal experiences and values to create a set of ideas that both makes sense and is personally exciting.

Step 3 Discuss the draft and ideas with the senior team

The senior team discusses several process-type questions or thought starters to discover their viewpoints, the current reality of the business and where they think the future can be. This step is a structured but very open process.

Some questions that can be asked of the team or business are: What is meaningful about your work? What is meaningful about your contribution to the organization? What contributions is your organization making to society? What is your company especially good at? How does your company stand apart? What added value does your company’s customers receive? Why are your company’s customers demanding its products and services? What makes your company different from others in the industry? How might your company’s learning assist other companies around the world in the same business? How might they become more successful based on your discoveries.

Step 4 Draft a second vision statement

Many new ideas will flow from the thought starter questions. Smaller groups and/or individual sessions with key managers may also be needed. It is from these sessions that the owner drafts a second vision statement. This second statement is the topic of discussion with the senior staff over the next three to six months.

You may need several sessions (small bites) before progress is made. That’s OK. Take as much time as you want. Both analytical thinking and a lot of dreaming big are required. The process should not reduce to analysis only, for it will lose its motivating possibilities.

Vision creation is always two steps forward and one backward. Do not expect a straight-line, linear process. It can be full of stops and starts, a bit confusing, and may ruffle some feathers (including the owner’s)

Keep working with your team to get down to the core wants.

The owner must have laid a solid foundation for the creation of the vision statement by first having established a sense of urgency and the top team responsible to assist in creating the vision.

The process never works well without a minimum of effective teamwork.

The original ideas will be modified by eliminating one element, adding others and/or clarifying. The senior staff or even a larger group of people always modifies the first draft. Make sure that the owner is open to this process.

In the end, you want a statement that indicates a direction for the future that is desirable, feasible, focused, and flexible and is conveyable in five minutes or less.

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Ben Botes MSc. MBA, is an Entrepreneur, Speaker, Writer, Coach
and academic. He is the founder of, South
African Business Hubs, Business support Hubs and incubators
for the new breed of South African Entrepreneurs.

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