Pic of Road to the Future

“When times are tough, vision is the first causality. Before conditions can improve, it is the first thing we must recover.”
Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers

It’s the time of year we begin to look ahead to the New Year and plan our business goals and strategy. You may have already made a note to yourself that you’d like to finally launch that blog next year. Or maybe your marketing goals include joining various community groups so that you can meet more people and widen the circle of potential clients and referral givers.

Whatever your short-term plans include, I guarantee that tackling the planning portion of your goal and strategy work will be infinitely easier if you have a crystal clear vision of where you’d like your business to be in five, ten or even twenty years.

If you’ve day-dreamed about having a storefront or branch office in every one of your nearby towns, now is the time to flesh out those dreams more clearly.

Business Vision

A quick look back at super successful business owners who had the greatest visions of their futures:

  1. Thomas Edison – Every home in America lit by electricity.
  2. John D. Rockerfeller – Every home in America lit by kerosene lamps. (I have them out of order!)
  3. Henry Ford – Every family owns an auto.
  4. Donald Trump – Owning every piece of real estate in New York. (Well, it looks like that’s his dream.)

You get the idea. These fellows dreamed BIG! There’s no reason you can’t dream as big or bigger. Your business vision is not attainable in a year. It’s an aspiration. It may seem impossible to achieve. Don’t shortchange your dream!

Vision vs. Mission vs. Goals

These are not the same thing. Your vision should be something that puts a huge smile on your face and charges you with loads of energy. It’s connecting back to your great passion and extending your dream far into the future.

Your mission isn’t necessarily attached to your long-term vision. You should be able to say you’re accomplishing your mission right now. If your mission is to provide healthy food; make customers happy and healthy; and raise the bar of the quality of cooking and food preparation in a fun atmosphere, you should already be doing that (or you’re just starting your business).

The vision would be expanding the mission to multiple restaurants and perhaps growing your own produce on multiple organic plots with all your locations supported by solar power for electricity and recycled gray water, all the while you’re spending three months a year in the third world, teaching farmers how to do the same and setting up solar power for them as well. That’s a huge, long-term vision expressing your great passions.

Goals are even more specific. Consider the number of meals served, number of employees and restaurants. A goal may be opening two more locations in the next year.

Creating Your Vision

If you haven’t truly thought beyond the next year or two for your business, you owe it to yourself to take a few minutes to explore this fun project. Fun?

Your vision is your dream! It should be as big, fun, exciting, energizing, purposeful, meaningful and thrilling as your imagination can create.

I have an advantage in this department that makes it a bit tougher for some. My imagination runs wild and it’s very easy for me to visualize what I want. This is why graphic design is relatively easy to me: I see what the finished work should look like.

If you find it a struggle to visualize things you don’t have, if you have trouble visualizing an architect’s drawing of your remodeled kitchen or new home, start with something that will jump-start the visualization process. Bora Bora. Hawaii. Big Ben and the Tower of London. Surely you’ve imagined places you always wanted to visit, and that visual sticks in your head.

Make a Vision Board

You may have seen the vision board that hangs in my office – right where I can see it from my desk every minute of every day.
Marcia's Vision Board
You may notice this vision board doesn’t have a picture of my office, an array of computers, additional employees and so on. It’s a vision board depicting many things and places I could buy or visit with a more successful business.

If you have a tough time imagining where you could take your business, start with the things you could do or buy when your business is more successful. Then you will begin to be able to consider what your business may be like at that time in the future.

Vision boards are a great tool with no right or wrong way to produce them. Look at what kids do with these types of projects: They cut out favorite pictures from magazines, maybe a headline or word resonates with you.

Cut these out and arrange them in an appealing way on poster board. Get out your glue stick or adhesive tape and put it together!

Most importantly, put it up where you will SEE it all the time. Make it easy to hide with a slipcover or a way to take off the wall in case it would look more ‘professional’ not to have everyone see it in your office.

In the next post I’ll provide more specifics on building a business vision. But for now, focus on what you’re passionate about. What feels solidly meaningful to you? If you’re feeling it’s not possible with your current job or company, look at both your long-term dreams but also perhaps what you have to do to make your company sellable for top dollar. That itself may be meaningful to you.