- Michelangelo -
Let’s talk a little bit about creating sweetness in people’s lives. Sounds great right? I have to admit, it took me over a year since opening my chocolate store until I realized I need to the find the “Why”, or why am I doing all this. What is my higher calling in business? Or in a more professional way, what is my business vision?
I remember the first time Athena asked me about my business vision. It was after another hard working day, I still had to reconcile the cash register, clean up the place, call my box vendor and she goes on and on about the importance of setting a business vision. All I wanted to tell her was “lady, look around, what vision are you talking about? My store is a mess, I am behind on some payments, and I need to clean up and go home to rest. Who cares about a business vision, let me first take care of my reality!”
I remember Athena (cool name right?) smiling at me and nodding as I almost yelled at her, “Who cares about a business vision?” putting on my angry face. I cannot really hold it for too long, and I think she knows it, so annoying. Athena just kept on mumbling about visions of other great companies, things like: “Refresh the world”, “Make people happy”, “Organize the world’s information”, “A desire to tell great stories and inspire audiences”, “A catalyst for transformation in people’s lives”.
At that moment I jumped out of my seat and told her “Stop, Stop, what do these inspiring quotes have to do with my little business? Why do I even need to have a business vision? Why can’t I just run my chocolate store, be successful, have a good income and be happy?”
So, why is it important to have a business vision?
I think we all need to have a purpose for whatever we choose to do. There are tons of blogs, articles and studies about a business vision or a business mission statement, and many are all about a grand futuristic vision (or dream).
I like to think about my business vision as the purpose of embarking on this journey called small business founding and ownership. For me the business vision is the “why”, it is why I get up everyday in the early mornings and open up the store, it is why I do what I do and it is the legacy I want to leave behind.
It’s interesting to think about it, a great business is a business which its legacy and purpose outlive the owner’s life. I am not saying my business will still exist after me, but I want its purpose, its impact, and its vision to live on beyond my life time.
My business vision is not just for me. The importance of the vision is to forever exist as a purpose, guidance and inspiration for all who are involved with the business.
It is a simple and powerful way to provide guidance to all the employees of the business about the purpose of this business, what this business is destined to do and become. But wait there is more (don’t you just love infomercials?) a well thought out business vision is also an extremely important way to let the business’ clients and vendors know what they can expect from my business and what my business stands for. Athena once told me to think about the following “How great is it to have client which truly understand what you do and why you do it”, interesting right? Can you do it without a vision? Can your employees do it without having you around?
So after I’m gone (such a morbid feeling), my business vision will be the lighthouse which will show the right way to conduct my business for everyone involved with it, now and in the future.
A business vision isn’t a clear definition of the list of products and services of your business. A business vision doesn’t describe the business’ clients, industry, competitive advantage or its operations. No, a business vision is the purpose and the reason of your business existence. It is the purpose of existence and the impact it will create. It is initially the personal why which helps you endure all the ups and downs of business ownership. However, eventually it is a way to create unity, clarity and understanding among your employees and your clients of the reason for the business existence and what can be expected from your business.
You know, every business products and services change over time. Your business may start as a cartoon shop and end up as a multimedia company with castles, hotels, movies, ships and even a sports team, but your business vision should not change, it is the one constant in an ever changing business world, it is the constant to draw the power and motivation from.
Let’s think about the alternative, having a business without a clear vision, without knowing what you want to achieve, or without knowing why you are doing what you do.
With this kind of a business, how will you motivate your employees to do great work without understanding what’s the bigger purpose? Can you do it without having a lot of money? Why would they get out of bed in the morning? How will you know which products or services to offer next, if you do not even know why you are doing all this for?
And what type of clients will you have? You know Charlie loves to say “in life you get what you deserve”, it is true, I swear, in business you get the clients you deserve.
Let me tell you about my business vision, my business vision was never about the money, although I’m working hard to have a very profitable business and I will write much more about it. It was never about fame, although it sure will be fun to appear on a famous magazine’s front page, especially if it happens before my 12 year high school reunion in July. It is about my business purpose, and my business purpose is to create sweetness in people’s lives. It is to create a secured and warm place where sweetness is delivered with a good old friendly talk. I believe when people are happy they can accomplish more, they can change the world, and they can strive for higher values and achievements. I believe life is not always easy, but sweet moments can overcome bitterness and despair. My business purpose is to bring on a sweet bright light even at times when it is bitterly dark.
And now for the big question, how do you go about creating your business vision? Some people will tell you just to go ahead and think what your business purpose is, well duh, if I knew my business purpose I will not need to think about the vision…
Athena told me a great way of starting to think about and come up with my business vision. First, start by taking a blank paper, your favorite tablet note taker app, or just find a white wall you can write on (and erase!). Then start by writing words that inspire your callings. Here are some words that you might want to think about: victory, inspiration, information, creativity, legacy, transformation, sport, elegance, time, spirit, organization, trust, security, good, or significance. It does help to use the verb type of the words – to inspire, to inform, to create, to transform. You see what I mean, right?
Do not rush this exercise. It may take you an hour, a day, a week or a month to come up with several words that are the purpose of your business journey. Eventually you will start seeing in front of you the few words that provide this aha moment, the moment of clarity for you. You will know when you got the right word. I found it useful to put the words into a contest, write the few that you like the most in one row and write under each one why do you like it. You will have a winner or two at the end.
Once you get your word (one word or two words at the most), you can come up with your business vision, take the word, and make a short sentence out of it. No, I am not kidding. Think about a word, let’s take “organize” for example, what do you want to organize? People’s lives? Organize information? House clutter? Another example “Inspire” who do you want to inspire? Inspire to do what? OK, last one, “innovation” what area of people lives or business process do you want to innovate? Who will benefit from the innovation?
A few great vision examples for our sample three words are:
- “Organize the world’s information”
- “A desire to tell great stories and inspire audiences”
- “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the World”
- “Inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time”
- “Bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings”
I hope you see it, it will be much easier when you will find your word, I promise. Now, Go on! Go and create your business vision, make Athena proud.
What is your business vision? I would love to read about your vision.
Happy Visioning, Liz