The small business owner is generally a busy individual; multi-tasking, juggling, putting out fires. Sometimes he or she faces personnel, website, marketing, customer service and bookkeeping issues all at the same time.
But, as the saying goes, don’t be so busy working in your business that you neglect to work on your business.
In other words, don’t get so caught up in the day-to-day operations of what your business does that you forget the grand vision of why you created the business in the first place. Don’t lose sight of your goals and your business plan to achieve them. You do have a plan, right?
Take a moment each week to sit back, without interruption or distraction, and work on your business.
It’s like going to the gym—sometimes it may seem like hard work. Sometimes you may feel like you have multiple other things you need to be doing, but over time, if you invest regular sessions to work on your business, its plan, vision, strategy and marketing, you will like the results. Require yourself to set aside some time on a regular basis and you will see your business become more profitable.
As a starting point, take a moment to reflect on your business’s strengths and weaknesses. What do you do well? What do you need to improve?
In fact, create lists of the business’s strengths and weaknesses from the perspectives of:
1) Your clients
2) Your staff
3) Your vendors
4) Yourself and your management team
Now, what does the overall picture look like? Condense your findings into a brief summary, perhaps a couple of sentences long.
How does the overall picture align with the dream you have for your business?
What great achievements and qualities exist in the strengths section?
What opportunities exist in the weaknesses section?
Be thorough; list at least 10 achievements and 10 areas to work on. Don’t look at the weaknesses as a negative thing, but rather as opportunities for improvement.
Now you have a better picture of where you are. But where do you want to be? Articulate the vision that you have for your clients, your staff, your vendors and yourself.
Taking this a step farther, let’s create a unique vision statement for your business.
You will notice that every major company in the world has a vision or mission statement—a broad idea of what the company will achieve and look like in the future. It’s not about where the organization is now; it’s about what the organization will be, or aspires to be. If your business doesn’t have a vision statement, it needs one. If it does, then this is a good opportunity to strengthen it or make sure it is aligned with the current dream you have for yourself and your company.
By creating a vision statement, you establish a strong foundation for the process that follows. You need to prepare yourself, your business and your staff for the changes you are about to create and the success you are about to make yours.
A vision statement needs to:
Describe aspirations and intent
Be inspirational for your staff and customers
Project a compelling story
Paint a clear picture
Use engaging and descriptive language
Align with your company’s values
A vision statement—once created, agreed to and perfected—should remain consistent and unchanged for several years. And don’t forget: your employees, customers and joint ventures (companies you align yourself with; the most powerful marketing initiative on the planet is a joint venture) all need to believe in the company’s vision, too. The vision will need to be something that your employees can embrace and stand behind. A powerful vision statement that your employees can get excited about will motivate, inspire and build morale on the sales floor and in the office.
Take a look at these corporate vision statements so you can get a better understanding of what I’m talking about:
Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online. (Amazon.com)
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. (Google)
To develop a reliable wireless network that empowers people with the freedom to travel anywhere—across the hall or across the continent—and communicate effortlessly. (McCaw Cellular Communications)
To be America’s best quick-service restaurant chain we will provide each guest great tasting, healthful, reasonably priced fish, seafood and chicken in a fast, friendly manner on every visit. (Long John Silver’s)
Write a few sentences that describe the future state of your business. List those in order of priority for your business.
Now, combine those sentences into a cohesive paragraph. Refine your statements so that they are broad and future-oriented, and use words that reflect your values, priorities and dreams, making sure the finished statement is smooth, clear and easy to understand. Make sure it is inspirational but realistic. Include your employees in the vision creation process, and ask them for feedback. Do they understand the vision? Do they support it? Does it inspire them?
Once you have created your vision statement, share it with the world. Your vision is something you have committed to; with it, you can let everyone know where your company is heading. It allows them to see where you want to go, and gives them the opportunity to help you get there.
Let’s work to achieve your vision.