Some of the best small business ideas don’t have to do with inventory, profit margins, or break-even points. Rather, they’re about having a big picture vision for your business. It’s needed to provide clarity and focus what you do every day. As a small business owner, you’re automatically a leader, so not only must you have a vision, you must also be able to articulate it to everyone who you need to help you; your employees, the bank, and your customers. It’s important, because it’s one thing to “getting things done” but you stay motivated because of “why” you’re doing it.
On your journey as a small business leader, from idea to veteran entrepreneur, understanding your vision can help you do things better and inspire better work from your employees. Here’s what you should know about vision and how to transform it into reality.
From Vision to Reality
The most effective leaders are the ones who have vision. They seriously consider the values, ideas, and actions they’re most passionate about, and they pursue those as a business. Real leaders don’t just launch businesses for recognition or money. Often, putting these visions into action is challenging, but outstanding leaders make it happen by setting demanding goals for their ventures and then pursuing them consistently. The help of inspired people who are committed to your vision helps tremendously too. You get people on board when you’re able to articulate your vision. Persistence is required, and the path to success may take unexpected detours, but being able to put your vision into words and having the wherewithal to pursue it even when things are difficult are two key characteristics of the successful business leader.
Communicating Your Vision Is Key
Having a vision of where you want your business to go is essential, but equally essential is the ability to communicate it effectively. Communicating your vision may take a back seat, however, because there’s always so much to be done. Taking the time to talk about vision and listen to others’ take on it may seem like a frivolous use of time, but it isn’t. Memos are appropriate for some things, but not for communicating your vision. Communicating what you envision for your business should involve talking and listening to your team rather than simply giving a speech. It’s hard for even the best leaders to have all the answers, and the people on the front lines of your business can be valuable sources of ideas and inspiration.
Smart Visions Inspire and Motivate
A vision statement should have certain elements in order to motivate people and generate real enthusiasm. It should set the organizational direction and purpose and involve all employees. It should uniquely express the strengths, values, and direction of the business and inspire enthusiasm and commitment. It should help employees know they’re part of something greater than themselves and the tasks they’re assigned.
Your company vision should be regularly communicated at all levels and through all channels, from the simplest email to the annual report. It should serve as a reason why you do the things you do, why people are hired, and why products and services are developed. Finally, a vision should challenge everyone to reach higher and do things they may not have thought they could do.
Visionary Skills Can Be Improved
Fleshing out a vision and pursuing it is a skill in that you can improve with practice. Here are some exercises for improving your business visionary skills:
- Identify a specific challenge within your business.
- Imagine the “big picture” of how everyone benefits when that challenge is overcome.
- Identify ways to communicate your vision, including specific words and phrases.
- Rehearse your vision with an emphasis on sincerity. Getting buy-in early on is key when you can’t pay competitive salaries.
Try this for a singular challenge whose solution you can envision, like shaving 30 seconds off the typical order processing time, then for other challenges. Eventually articulating and expressing your vision, and inspiring your team to realize that vision will become more natural to you.
If you have started a business, you most likely already have visionary skills. You can envision the needs of your customers before they arrive, and it’s important that you realize how important this is. If you’re at the beginning of your business journey, I invite you to download two free chapters of my book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months for more small business advice from developing your vision to hiring your first employee.