Does Your Business Have a Vision? Does it Need One?
By: Matt Carle – Main Ascent Business Brokers and Advisors
As a business owner, you’re the leader. You need to decide what your business will do, how it must do it, and where it will go next. An owner without a vision for where the business is going is going to have a tough time building anything stable or sustainable.
When you try to move forward without a long-term vision, you and your team are left jumping blindly from one item to the next—unsure of where your focus should be or where the business is heading. But creating a vision can feel intimidating. It’s hard work, and there are so many pieces to consider – where do you start, how do you come up with impactful answers, and how do you package it so that other people can understand it.
There are a few keys that help our business owners create something that is effective and meaningful. They make your vision actionable, because this should be a document you use day to day, to remember where you’re going and help guide your decisions. If you’re struggling to create a compelling vision, start by asking yourself these questions.
- What will the business look like?
Can you imagine walking into your business four years from now? Consider each detail of your facility and office space. What do they look like? Where is your office? What hangs on the walls? What unique or memorable reference points exist to remind you where you’re headed?
Consider your employees’ point of view: How do they see the operation, and which parts do they view as most important? What do they need to see each day that encourages them to do their best?
Painting a detailed picture of how the business will look can serve as an inspiration for where you want the business to go. It’s also a great place to start because it gets you thinking in concrete terms about the future of the business.
- How will my business act?
Next, consider how your business will behave and how work will get done. Envision the role that you want to play as the owner—are you involved daily, or is someone else in charge of operations? How do decisions get made? What type of work are you doing? You might choose to step away from the business, either to sell it or to let it run itself; in that case, ask yourself what needs to happen inside the business to make that possible.
Be sure to think about how your staff interacts with your customers and with each other. What message do you want them to convey with their actions?
Get specific about how the business will act when it’s working the way you want it to work. This is where you can start to identify the systems that are missing in your business. You don’t have to create all of them now, but including those systems as goals within the vision helps create a sense of priorities and focus for doing the work. Creating a strong framework helps you build toward the business that you want to own and make decisions that move you closer to where you want to go.
- How will people feel?
More specifically, how do you want people to feel when they engage with your business? Being deliberate about the emotional impact your business will have goes a long way toward achieving your vision in the long-term.
Be deliberate about how you want people to feel after they deal with your company; this could mean customers, employees, or even vendors. Then, look for ways to impart that feeling throughout the business. Why are your employees excited to come to work each day? How can you help foster that excitement and bring it to your customers as well? Why do your customers choose to do business with you? What kind of service should people expect from your company? How do they feel when they walk in the door? The answers to these questions will help color the picture of what you’re working to create.
People make choices based on feeling and emotion, and then our brains find reasons to rationalize those choices. That means that addressing feelings first can put you at an advantage. Be deliberate with the choices you make about the emotions you want to generate, and your entire business will benefit.
- How will my business perform?
Many people find it challenging to set firm goals for the performance of their business. Putting specific numbers on things like revenues, profits or expansion opportunities might seem daunting, but it’s key to achieving your long-term business goals. If it helps, break it down into smaller details and questions.
Ask yourself how your personal goals align with the business goals. How much will you earn as the owner of the business? What will your profit margins be? What will you do with the profits? What other performance measures are important for your company? Do you foresee expanding to new locations? Your answers to these questions will set the benchmarks for the future of the company, so it’s important to set goals that are both realistic and challenging—they should require you to grow beyond where you’re at right now in order to achieve them.
Setting performance goals and putting them in writing makes it much more likely that you’ll achieve them. You’ll be able to measure your progress toward these goals throughout your business, and they’ll give you plenty of vital feedback along the way. And even if you fall short of some goals doesn’t mean that you’ve failed; each result you get is another data point that you can use to make decisions, make adjustments, and continue to grow.
As you work toward the business that you want to own, think of your vision document as your north star: the constant presence that you use to set your course. Focusing on these four keys will give you a rich, detailed picture of where you’re going and make it much more likely that you’ll get there. Take the time to get them right, and you’ll have clear daily guidance to withstand the inevitable storms—and the confidence that comes from knowing your destination.
Are you curious what your business is worth? Take this brief survey and we will provide you with a complimentary valuation with insights on how you can grow the value going forward. Whether you are planning to sell soon or years from now, we will give you insights from the market that will help you better understand:
- What your business is worth
- What key value drivers have the greatest impact on the business valuation
- What you can do to maximize your return on this all important investment
Each day you are making decisions that impact your future and these insights can help get the most from your business. Click here to take the Value Builder Survey.