Hello there, and welcome to my latest blog offering.
I was with three of my business colleagues at the weekend and we were offering our services to visitors to the exhibition. As they approached our booth, we would ask a couple of fundamental business questions.
Bear in mind that our audience, as is the case in many industries and professions these days did not have a great deal of experience in business management, save that which they had picked up for themselves in their day to day lives. Sure, most people get through, especially when the market is stable, but few of them go on to make LOTS of money, and after a few years of grind, begin to wonder what it was all about, and why they keep pushing themselves for what seems like a very mediocre reward for their efforts.
If market conditions change, and the business starts going south, many of these same business owners lack the expertise to respond, and sadly, many of them do not make it through the lean times.
The two questions we ask are “Where are you now?” and “Where do you want to get to?”
All too often the answer to these two fundamental questions is “I don’t really know”
I am reminded of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. When asked by Alice “Which road should I take?”, he replies “That all depends on where you want to get to”. Since Alice admits that she doesn’t know where she wants to go, the Cat replies “Then it doesn’t matter which road you take.”
There is a substantial amount of evidence which points to the fact that if you set goals for your business (and your life, for that matter, there is a great chance that you will achieve all you want to. A key early step in any of our coaching programmes is to establish a set of goals with our clients before going on and implementing strategies and tactics to help them in achieving their goals.
This article is designed to give you a way of thinking about your business which will mean that you can become one of the winners, instead of being one of the “also rans”.
Welcome to the Business Growth Master Class! Are you ready to dive in?
The first few articles in this programme guide you step-by-step through the process of establishing a strong foundation – or preparation – for the five-step process that follows. You need to prepare yourself, your business and your staff for the changes you are about to create and the success you are about to make yours.
You will notice that every major company in the world has a vision or mission statement – a broad, futuristic idea of what the company will achieve and look like in the future. The five-step process can help you achieve there, but you need to know where “there” is first.
I know you must be eager to jump into marketing strategies and get more people flowing through the door, or more sales ringing through the till. Be patient – this is important work that will build and contribute to your amazing success. Trust me!
In this Session we will cover:
- What a business vision is and why it is important
- Why your employees need a vision to follow
- Examples of powerful vision statements
- Your unique strengths and weaknesses
- How to write your vision statement
- What you need to achieve your vision
So, let’s take a look at what a vision statement is, and why it’s important for you to create one for your business.
A vision statement is a broad, inspiring image of the future state a business aspires to reach. It describes without specifying how aspirations will be achieved, or when. It is ambitious, and forward-thinking. It’s not about where the organization is now, it’s about what the organization will be, or aspires to be.
A vision statement needs to:
- describe aspirations and intent
- be inspirational for your staff and customers
- project a compelling story
- paint a clear picture
- use engaging and descriptive language
- be realistic
- align with your company’s values
The vision statement will also provide a clear criteria or measuring stick for decision-making. When making tough choices, ask “Does this support the vision statement?” If major initiatives do not support the overall business vision, chances are they aren’t worth the investment of time and money.
If your business doesn’t have a vision statement, it needs one. If it does, then this is a good opportunity to strengthen it or make sure it is aligned with the current dream you have for yourself and your company.
I’m going to work through a step-by-step process that will help you hone in on what your vision is, and then put it into words.
You should note that a corporate vision statement – once created, agreed to and perfected – should remain consistent and unchanged for several years. When a vision statement is changed and revised, it is difficult to create a consistent plan that supports the achievement of the vision.
But first, don’t forget that your employees, joint ventures (companies you align yourself with – the most powerful marketing initiative on the planet is a Joint Venture) and your customers need to believe in the company’s vision too.
Your employees need a strong, clear vision statement just as much as you do. When creating a vision statement, keep this in mind. The vision will need to be something that your employees can embrace and stand behind. A powerful vision statement that your employees can get excited about will motivate, inspire and build morale on the sales floor and in the office.
Think about how you will communicate your vision to your employees once you have created it. How can you inspire them to nurture and support your vision on a daily basis, in everything they do? How can you empower and motivate them to feel ownership of the company’s future and their stake in it?
Take a look at these corporate vision statements so you can get a better understanding of what I’m talking about.
Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
Dell listens to customers and delivers innovative technology and services they trust and value.
eBay pioneers communities built on commerce, sustained by trust, and inspired by opportunity. eBay brings together millions of people every day on a local, national and international basis through an array of websites that focus on commerce, payments and communications.
Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. The company develops technologies that facilitate the sharing of information through the social graph, the digital mapping of people’s real-world social connections. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment.
Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Other Vision Statement Examples:
- To develop a reliable wireless network that empowers people with the freedom to travel anywhere – across the hall or across the continent – and communicate effortlessly.
- To be the country’s best quick-service restaurant chain we will provide each guest great tasting, healthful, reasonably priced fish, seafood and chicken in a fast, friendly manner on every visit.
- To provide high quality products that combine performance with value pricing, while establishing a successful relationship with our customers and our suppliers.
- To be a profitable provider of high quality software solutions and services that provide strategic value to our customers and create a company that can attract, recruit and retain smart and talented employees.
See what I mean? Let’s start creating your unique vision statement.
1. Start by looking at your strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of everyone who does business with you.
You’ll start with a bit of analysis on where you stand now. Use the chart as a guide, create your own on a pad of paper and fill in your company’s unique strengths and weaknesses. Think about strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of customers, staff, management, vendors or suppliers and owners.
For example, what would your customers say about your customer service standards? Would this area be considered a strength or a weakness? What would your staff say about training and professional development opportunities? What do you think about your income and overall financial growth?
Product or service availability and quality
Quality of work environment
|Vendors / Suppliers
Product or service quality
2. Analyze your observations, and remember that your weaknesses represent great opportunities for change and improvement, while your strengths need to be nurtured and developed.
Take a look at what you have written, using the chart above as your guide, and answer the following questions on your pad of paper:
What does the overall picture look like?
How does the overall picture align with the dream you have for your business?
What great achievements and qualities exist in the strengths section? (List 10)
What opportunities exist in the weaknesses section? (List 10)
3. Now that you’ve assessed where your business stands today, where do you want it to be? What opportunities exist?
Here you will take the strengths and opportunities you identified in step one, the analysis you completed in step two, and start describing them in words. Use the chart below as your guide, write three sentences that describe the future state of your business. I’ve included some samples to get you started.
|Customers||To be a regional leader in customer service.|
|Staff||To inspire and develop our professionals.|
|Management||To lead a generation of environmental responsibility.|
|Vendors / Suppliers||To offer only the highest quality sprockets.|
|Owners||To be a profitable and highly respected organization.|
3. What opportunities and aspirations are the highest priorities for you and your business?
Take the sentences you created above, and list them in order of importance to you. You may have to do this several times before you feel the order is accurate. Then, combine duplicate sentences, or ones that describe similar things.
Once you’ve finished your list, take the top three to five sentences and combine them into a cohesive paragraph.
4. Refine your statements so that they are broad, future-oriented and use words that reflect your values, priorities and dreams.
You need to refine your statement so it is smooth, clear and easy to understand. Here is a checklist to use when reviewing the words you have written:
- is it inspirational for your staff and customers?
- does it project a compelling image?
- does it paint a clear picture?
- have you used engaging and descriptive language?
- is it realistic?
- does it align with your company’s values?
TIP: You can use phrases like:
A leader in…
Support the development of…
Offer opportunities to…
5. Include your employees in the vision creation process, and ask them for feedback.
Do they understand the vision? Do they support it? Does it inspire them? Can they find meaning in their work based on it? Incorporate their feedback, where possible and relevant.
6. Put your vision statement somewhere everyone can see it – your staff, management, customers and vendors.
Once you have created your vision statement, share it with the world. Your vision is something you have committed to, and can let everyone know where your company is heading. It allows them to see where you want to go, and gives them the opportunity to help you get there.
Now, do you have everything you need to start working towards your vision?
In the next few articles, we’re going to work through a comprehensive goal-setting process that will act as the road map for achieving your vision. You’ll also review, in depth, the strategy that you will use to achieve your goals, and in turn, the vision you have created.
As your mentor, I’m here to answer questions and provide support when you need it, so feel free to email me at davepreston[at]ologycoaching.com (replace [at] with @ – this is spam prevention).
Congrats for tuning in,