What is vision? Can you answer that question without feeling a pit in your stomach or a question go through your mind?
Have you even given thought to it or have you spent your time as business owner or entrepreneur developing strategies and working to just get your company launched because you’re excited?
Perhaps you’ve been in business for a year or longer and you’re realizing that there is more to this than you thought and you know instinctively that there is one missing ingredient that is between you and the customers who will make your business grow.
This is a really important subject to me and one that I love and learned a lot from Howard Hendricks during my time in his classes and in my internship at Dallas Theological Seminary.
Let’s start first with what vision is NOT: It’s not a list of things you want to do or accomplish in the future. Those are goals and many times people confuse them with vision.
This list will get you to your vision, but they are NOT your vision.
So what is vision?
Vision is at its simplest form nothing more than an idea of how you want to make a difference or change the world.
It is the one overarching, over-reaching idea that is inspired and fueled by one simple principle that people can grasp, feel, understand and be inspired by so much that a business is taken to a whole different level in the public sphere.
Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, had initial vision that was very simple back in the 80’s and early 90’s: He wanted to put a personal computer in every home and leverage technology so that the consumer had a level playing field.
How about Thomas Edison?
Edison had one simple vision and that was to change the way the world experienced life. From the light bulb to the telephone, and from the sounds of music through the phonograph to watching life and entertainment through a movie camera.
Vision is lived in and through the business owner and then through the business itself straight to the public.
How you communicate your vision and what you practically do to fulfill it stems from knowing the difference you want to make and that difference is tied directly to who you are as a person. It’s fueled by your experiences, passions, dreams and ideas of what can be.
The vision of a business becomes it’s very DNA and reason for existence.
Why Small Business Struggle to See Long-Term Growth and Success
It’s true that 80% of all business will fail within five years of launch. Of those, 70% will fail within 24 months.
What is the difference between those few who succeed and those who fail?
Business is a vision sucking machine.
Ask most business owners and they will tell you how easy it is to get consumed by the details, minutia and the day-to-day things that will zap the life out of a business owner.
Passion dissolves, interest is lost and before you know it the business owner is wondering what they got themselves into.
Let’s be real, very few go into business without knowing it could fail. It’s just that many of us believe it won’t happen to us.
That’s not a bad thing. It’s good to be optimistic and hopeful. In trying times we need that perspective.
However, it’s bad if it’s naïve.
Success is predicated on a lot of things but the one overriding thing that determines success is a business owner’s ability to see the big picture at all times and determine what has to be done to get where you are to where you want to be.
Vision is the root of WHY you’re in business and “why” is always more important than “how” – yet the majority of us focus on the how without understanding the “why?”.
Vision is a window into our soul and once we understand and embrace our vision then we know exactly where we want to go and can put a plan in place to get there with purpose and meaning.
The “how” becomes a function of the practical that gets us there.
Yet, if there is no purpose for the “how” because it’s disconnected from the vision then it becomes clear why a business would fail.
So, why are so many chasing the “how?”
Because it’s easy and it’s the lazy way out. We fool ourselves into thinking that we can just do the minimums to get where we want to go and that’s foolishness.
The other alternative is that we are afraid… afraid of achieving success. Afraid of making a difference. Afraid of criticism. Afraid of what people will say. Afraid that someone may come after us.
Yes, those things can all happen. But, vision requires courage and bravery and rises above the noise that is out there.
It’s true. Vision requires work and sometimes pain. It isn’t something that just shows up out of nowhere. This is why business failure is so high. There is no passion many times outside of money or fear is the driver of the business owner and that is a road to failure.
Why do I do what I do?
I want to take a second and share my vision that comes from ten years of owning seven different businesses. It comes through both success and some very deep failures.
Here is my personal vision for my business:
* To help communities be vibrant and great places to live because small businesses are healthy and growing and fulfilling their vision in their communities.
* To educate, empower and enable small businesses owners and entrepreneurs to make a difference in their communities through their business.
* To help small businesses learn that they can compete with anyone at anytime and be wildly successful because of whom they are not because of what they sell.
When small businesses succeed, we all succeed together. America was the first country in the history of the world to embrace entrepreneurism and build wealth through business ownership and entrepreneurism. In fact, up until recent history entrepreneurs were frowned upon. They were lower class. It was considered easier just take what you wanted from someone instead of earn it. That is the old world feudal system.
No country before America was ever able to do what we have done.
And somehow we’ve forgotten that. We have forgotten that we live in a country that has changed the way the world thinks about success.
But more importantly, because of greed and the idea of profits no matter what we’ve lost our way and our moral compass.
We are still world leaders. But what kind of leaders are we?
If every business had a vision that was about others over self think of how powerful that would be!
However, today the failure rate for new businesses seems to be around 70% to 80% in the first year and only about half of those who survive the first year will remain in business the next five years.
Much of it is tied to the reality that business owners don’t fully understand marketing and sales outside of a mass marketing context that no longer works online or in personal networking; or they have misguided ideas of how to get to the money fast without good ideas, sacrifice and working smart and hard.
For your business to achieve marketing and sales success in order to grow you have to be very clear about your business, your prospects and customers and you must have the right strategies and tactics.
How Can You Begin to Discover Your Vision?
Your marketing may suck because you’re to busy talking about yourself. The only person impressed with you is YOU.
I can always tell when a company doesn’t have a real vision because it communicates inwardly about itself publicly.
The focus is in the wrong place. Very few if any companies would be proud of their marketing if they knew what they were doing. I want go on record as saying that I don’t believe the majority of companies are doing this on purpose; they are doing the best with what they know to do.
There is a vision that is inspiring and contagious, it’s just buried and needs to be discovered.
If you don’t know what your vision is, I can promise you that it’s there.
Perhaps you need someone who can ask the right questions and help pull it out of you?
You may be saying right now, “Don, I do have a vision.”
Please allow me one second to challenge you.
If you all you can tell me is what you want to sell or the lifestyle your business can afford you one day then I’m going to tell you that is not a vision for your business.
Vision is never focused on you!
Vision is always focused on making a difference in the world in the future. That vision will guide your business, attract the right employees, and most importantly it will attract the right customers.
If you’ve taken the path of business ownership I know it’s there.
You can find your vision through a set of steps that requires work.
What do I mean?
Don’t start with trying to define a vision. Allow yourself to discover it through the following process:
- Discover the tangible values your customers receive from having done business with you.
- What “specific” problems do each tangible value solve (fyi there could be 5 and there could be 200)?
- Who are you “specifically” solving the problems for?
- How are your products or services a solution?
Discovering your vision is a process and it doesn’t always happen overnight. But that doesn’t mean you can get on the road right now to finding it.
You may not realize it, but every successful company has been through a process. Steve Jobs didn’t one day say out of nowhere that he wanted to put a personal computer in every home, or create iTunes and iPod; or change telecommunications forever through the iPhone.
Wal Mart didn’t grow to be the world’s largest and most dominate retailer by accident. Did you know that Sam Walton was leveraged in the tens of millions of dollars, or more, in debt as followed his vision of helping rural communities have access to affordable products that previously were unavailable? He had a vision and he followed it! He believed in it all costs!
You may be saying to yourself that you just want to have a great life selling “ABC” and you have no intention of becoming a Fortune 100 company.
That’s awesome. But your business in your local community wants to know who you are and what you stand for. They want to buy from and be a part of a business that stands for more than just making money.
They want to know that you’re there for the long-term and that you’re really there to serve them.
If you want something from your community than show them what you want to do for them!
That is vision and when you can communicate your vision through marketing it will seek to such and instead it will attract your customers to you.
Now it’s your turn: what is your vision? Please share with me below.
I also want to share with you that I’m working on creating a dynamic webinar that you won’t want to miss. You will learn five questions that will immediately change the way you think about your business, the web and generating targeted content that gets real results. I’m still working on the title. I can guarantee you that you will not want to miss this special webinar. You will learn from the big picture how the web works together holistically and the steps you can take to build a solid internet marketing presence that will endure no matter what happens with algorithms or other changes that affect how you reach, converse with and convert your audience into paying customers.
If you want to know when the webinar will be available and how you can access it please join my email list below by clicking on the image. Not only will you be the first to know, you will also be the first to know about article and podcast releases.
I hope to see you on the upcoming webinar!!!!
Do you know your vision or do you have a comment or question? Please leave it below in the comments section. I would love to engage with you around this topic.