Vision… it’s talked about in colleges, board rooms, training centers, business expos, conferences, workshops, seminars, websites… there is no lack of educational opportunities on the subject of developing a vision for your business.
Yet, the overwhelming majority of businesses have no vision.
Well, they think they do but it’s not really a vision when the majority simply find a cute way to express what they do and disguise it as a vision.
For too many businesses their vision is nothing more than a glorified “here is what we do” statement.
Too many businesses are struggling unnecessarily and for the wrong reasons. If you’re struggling it shouldn’t be because of a lack of vision, bad messaging or marketing or because you can’t sell.
But wait, that is the reason most businesses are struggling.
Many are saying nothing and helping no one while lying to themselves about the real state of their business.
How many are out there saying right now one of these statements:
- It’s going to be okay, it just takes time.
- I have to weather the storm.
- We just have to connect with the right people who can refer business to us and help us reach our audience.
- We just need (insert dollar amount) and it will work out.
For some business owners one or all of these statements are true.
But, it’s not true for the business that has no vision.
Vision is the essence of communication and inspiration. Without it, you don’t have a real reason for what you’re doing. Then, there is the other side of it; if you’re vision is about the wrong things you risk becoming corrupt or in business for all the wrong reasons which can have it’s very serious consequences later on.
What is Vision and How Do I Find It?
Unknowingly to my clients, the very first question I always ask them is “What problems are you “Passionate about?”.
As I said before, vision is not a reworded, fancy way of saying what you do.
How many times have you gone to a networking meeting, chamber of commerce lunch or sat next to someone on an airplane and asked the question; “what do you do?”
- How many times are you bored out of your mind?
- How any times do you wish you hadn’t asked?
- How many times do you wonder what in the world that person is talking about?
You didn’t really want an answer. You just didn’t know what else to ask and it seemed like a logical question in the moment. It’s all small talk and we all know it.
What if someone actually said something that made you take note and piqued your curiosity.
Hum… the same thing holds true for many business websites, social media posts, blog comments… boring, uninspiring and a waste of time.
Every single thing you say and do should be tied to your real vision… and the reason your message is so uninspiring is because you don’t really have one.
Vision is always tied to passion. Passion is not tied to making money for yourself.
Instead, passion is tied to somehow making a difference in the world.
Don’s Vision and Passion
Since I decided to write this article on a whim, I don’t yet have permission from a few clients whose story I would love to share. So, I will save those for a later article and instead share my own experience of how I came to my own vision.
For ten years I have watched businesses come and go. I have seen and been a part of making some beautiful websites that are atrocious and say nothing.
I’ve watched the statistics happen and businesses close.
I’ve partnered with people who have no idea of who they are, why they exist and whose only vision was to make money for themselves at the expense of their teams and clients.
They aimlessly went from one business to another in the hunt for the elusive dollar only to find unhappiness and no reward.
I partnered with some wrong people because at times I was not even sure of why I was in business other than knowing I didn’t want to be employed and I don’t want to be locked down all day long being miserable helping someone else fulfill their vision and dreams. I didn’t want to be in a business that though profitable wasn’t true to who I was and it only served a purpose for a moment and I knew it.
While in Bible College, two seminaries, as a Chaplain in the U.S. Army and a Director of Development responsible for raising millions of dollars in two non-profits I studied leadership both theoretically and practically in everyday life.
All of my experiences led me the conclusion that leadership is found in the moments when you discover your passions and what makes you tick.
Your passion is found not in your own personal desires but in the difference you want to make in the world. It enables you to make the hard decisions and stay true to yourself no matter the storms going on around you.
I discovered after having met hundreds or maybe thousands of business over the last ten years that my struggle was their struggle.
I found a way to success a few times by accident and once on purpose and failure was far more my friend than success, or so it seemed. Yet, in the end no failure was without its purpose in the big picture of what would become my passion.
My vision is not to teach people, consult or coach or show people how to be successful themselves in their marketing and messaging. That’s what I do.
My passion is:
- 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 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. If what they sell is needed in the marketplace then it becomes a function of messaging the relevance of why the public should buy from them. That takes vision and purpose through clarity and strategies and goals through focus and then the right tasks through execution (clarity + focus = execution).
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. No country before it was ever able to do what we have done.
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.
Because they lack the vision necessary to be relevant, compelling and interesting or they don’t have a vision for the right product or service that can be successful in the marketplace. In either case, it still comes down to vision.
What Business Am I “Really” In
I’ve been giving some thought to the title of my core product titled “Foundations of Internet Marketing.” The truth is that is the foundation of all business.
What I teach ultimately is how to find your vision through a challenging set of assignments that ought to forever change the way you see your business and the impact your business is having on people’s lives.
In the first assignment I cover a few questions that are so foundational that you will begin to experience your own vision within a few weeks.
The hard part is that many clients will try to out think themselves and get ahead of the question to an outcome or result. I strongly advice against that and I ask each client to only focus on the question without jumping ahead.
Vision is a process not a result. That means each person has to take it as it is revealed.
Yes, it’s revealed! It’s there. It always has been you just need to pull it out.
Question #1 – What Problems are You Passionate About?
The first question as I said earlier asks “what problems are you passionate about?” I’m not interested in the actual problems. This is the one question I will ask that is about you. However, every question you answer moving forward will be filtered through this one as you will see at the end of this article.
In my book “The Shift…” I said:
“Passion is the seed of personalization. It’s what separates a commodity from someone or something that is unique, relevant, different and inspiring even if we are all selling the same products or services. Those who “get” you are those who will gravitate towards you and want to buy from you.”
I shared how my client, Chuck Ware, when through the process of discovering his passion. Here is a list of just a few problems Chuck discovered he is passionate about:
After talking it through for a few hours it dawned on Chuck. He said, “Don, I feel really passionate about:
- The lack of caring in the moving industry. Employees are disposable in many companies and they can be replaced. There is no reason for them to care if they don’t feel cared for.
- The lack of professionalism. People who start moving companies aren’t business owners and rarely stop to think about moving as a business and therefore they hire anyone who is able and willing to pick something up and drop it off without any professional training or expectations.
- It’s just a J O B and it’s all about me instead of the customer.”
Question #2 – What Tangible Values Do Your Clients Receive and How Do They Feel after They’ve Done Business with You?
A tangible value for a service is how does the experience leave your customer/client feeling about you because you solved a problem or met a need?
Each tangible value offers a solution and is attached to an emotion.
Another client I am working with is creating a business that works with youth sport leagues. Here are the tangible values that they came up with:
- Healthy kids make healthy adults that are empowered to live active, productive lives.
- Developing young people to become responsible citizens as adults and contribute positively in society.
- Provide opportunities so that every kid can play the sport of their choice and become more physically active and emotionally healthy.
- Training responsible volunteers that make a difference in kids lives.
- Create funding opportunities for your sports leagues so that no kid is ever denied an opportunity to play a sport.
This kind of clarity is powerful! It enables the business owner to move from talking about themselves to identifying with and talking about the prospect and customer.
Clarity through understanding the tangible values we offer our customers also helps us to gain clarity around our mission and purpose. In a real sense, marketing allows us to share how we make a difference in the world and it helps us discover our purpose and mission in life and business.
Question #3 – What Problems Do You Specifically Solve?
I ask my clients to write out as many specific problems as they can and in first person as if they are the person experiencing the problem, issue or struggle.
The key here is to attach the problem to each individual tangible value.
This one is more logical than emotional, just write out the problem in one bullet sentence.
Look at the Whole Picture
It’s time to zoom out now and organize your thoughts. Does each tangible value fall in line with your passion? If not, it’s gotta go no matter how great and wonderful it is. It will just become a distraction to your message and business. Everything you do moving forward is filtered through your tangible values.
Does each problem really fit with each tangible value?
Now, we can look at each tangible value and assign a word to it that best exemplifies or explains it and when you do, your vision will suddenly start to appear.
It’s been there the whole time.
Now, when someone asks you “what do you do?” you can answer them by sharing what “business you are “really” in.”
You Shouldn’t Try This By Yourself
You just shouldn’t, no matter how tempting it is.
Because you are stuck in your own box and you can only see things the way you’ve crafted them to be seen.
I can guarantee you that you will NEVER be able to truly pull it out of yourself because you don’t know what questions to ask yourself and you will always find a way to justify the answer you want instead of what it should really be in the event there is a conflict.
Every great creation or invention had collaboration.
- Thomas Edison had Nikola Tesla and JP Morgan
- Henry Ford with C. Harold Wills
- Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak
I could go on but I’ll spare you, lol… the point is that you can’t see outside yourself.
If you feel that I might be a good fit to help you discover your vision, purpose, mission and audience and how to converse with them in a way that is meaningful, relevant and compelling then I would love the opportunity to get to know you and your company.
I am offering a free 30 minute consultation. If you’re interested all you have to do is visit the Foundations of Internet Marketing page and learn how I can help you change your business forever and fill out the form to schedule your time with me. There is no commitment or obligation if you chose to talk with me.
If you have a thought, question or comment please leave it below in the comments section. I would love to extend a conversation with you and each of my readers and followers.