In small business, a vision is a mental image of the long-term future you’re striving for. A clear vision paints a big picture, and it’s underpinned by your goals and purposes. It extends beyond both short-term wins and unexpected problems that may come along the way.
Do you have a vision for your business? What are your long-term goals to ensure that your business has a thriving, sustainable future?
It may be surprising, but many business owners can’t answer these fundamental questions with passion or purpose. More often than not, their answers are flippant and uninspired. This lack of vision is actually a common reason small businesses fail, and it contributes to why 70% of small businesses shut down by its 10th anniversary.
The answer “to make money” isn’t necessarily a bad goal in starting a business, but it should only be a means to an end. Money is a tool to realise your vision and objectives, and it will help grow your business. But if making money is the end-goal, it can limit your business’ potential.
As a small business owner, having a clear vision and purpose of why you’re in business is important to succeed. It gives you direction in what your venture aims to do and how to achieve those goals.
Why others started their business (and continued)
Successful entrepreneurs will have different reasons for why they began their business. But there are two things they have in common, no matter the industry. First, inspiration for a new venture comes from anything and any passion. Second, motivation keeps a business owner going.
For Nicholas Brand, starting Men in Kilts was a way for him to control his own future and help his family live comfortably. Now, his unique and professional external house cleaning services are located in different locations across North America.
Meanwhile, Microweber co-founder Peter Ivanov decided to turn his hobby into a profession. After finding two partners who were equally passionate about the open source culture, they developed a user-friendly website builder and content management system so clients can easily create their website, online shop, or blog.
Even Steve Jobs started with a simple yet powerful goal: provide user-friendly computers to everyone. His motivation and his clear vision dramatically changed the landscape of technology.
“I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance,” said the founder of Apple.
Business owners will have different reasons for starting their venture. But it should motivate you to persevere until you succeed in your goals.
What does your business want to achieve?
According to Inc., “Entrepreneurship isn’t simply about launching new ventures or making money. Instead, it’s about solving problems and creating social progress; building great new things that make a better world.”
Business actually has three main objectives which can solve human problems and help the world become more efficient.
Economic objectives consist of earning profit, building customers, and optimum utilisation of resources. These are basic measures that ensure the continued survival and growth of your business.
Social objectives include supplying useful products and services and generating job opportunities in the market. It focuses on utilising scarce resources for the benefit of society.
Individual objectives address the needs of your employees, your most valuable resource. This includes providing safe and healthy working conditions, fair salaries and wages, and opportunities for professional and personal growth.
Again, we see how profit isn’t everything. A successful business targets achieving economic objectives alongside human centric ones. Hiring an accountant can help you fulfill your economic objectives in terms of finances as you focus on other aspects of your business.
What kind of business owner do you want to be?
Have you thought about this question? How are you actively shaping yourself to be the business owner you want to be?
While vital, it’s not enough to simply create a vision for your business. You need to have one for yourself as a business owner, too. A successful business always has a distinct and memorable brand identity that reflects the owner’s interests, values, and passion. And as a business owner, it’s important to embody the best qualities of your brand.
Are you an authoritative entrepreneur because you’re an expert in the field of your business? Are you innovative because your business consistently provides new and creative products and services? Are you enthusiastic because you’re great with customer-oriented business?
There are different types of entrepreneurs that each have different strengths and weaknesses. Articulate your strengths and weaknesses before listing the qualities of the business owner you want to be. This will establish the steps you need to take to actualise your vision for yourself.
5 questions to ask yourself in order to realise your vision as a business owner
Reflecting on these five questions is necessary in building your identity as a business owner. Your answers will be pivotal in understanding why you truly began your business and, by extension, how you can succeed.
1. Are you afraid to fail?
This is one of the hardest questions and the greatest struggles a business owner has to face. Being afraid of failure isn’t necessarily bad, and failure itself is an unavoidable part of any successful entrepreneur’s journey. Not every idea or decision will work. But true failure comes from never trying again.
Learning from these experiences is essential to reframing failure in your business and achieving success in the long run. It can be challenging to have a positive outlook when you’re facing a problem, but a great business owner will use those difficult situations to find new opportunities or creative solutions. “Failures” can be perceived as “good mistakes” which you can use as another starting point.
For example, Google has had product failures such as Google Reader, Google Glass, and Google Wave. But this didn’t deter them at all. Rather, it motivated them to keep creating innovative products that users will enjoy.
If an entrepreneur is so afraid to fail that it paralyses them from moving forward, they’ve already given up the first step to understanding their vision as a business owner. But if an entrepreneur learns how to overcome that fear and reframe failure, they will have a clearer idea of what they want for their business.
2. How do you define business success?
Your personal definition and key performance indicators of success are crucial in determining what kind of business owner you are and what vision you have.
As mentioned earlier, your vision for your business is underpinned by your goals and purposes. Establishing these end-goals from the very beginning not only identifies your vision but also your definition of business success.
Everyone will have a different definition of business success. Your success can be about benefiting society with your products and services, or it can be about building a strong team that believes in your business.
Your goals don’t have to follow a template of another business’ goals. But it’s important to create a clear strategy of targeting them to accomplish your own business success.
3. What are you passionate about?
Many businesses start as passion projects. While some business owners lose that passion along the way, rediscovering it makes working all the better.
There’s a nugget of truth about the adage, “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” It emphasises how passion is important for a business owner. When you love the work you do, every day is exciting and brimming with possibilities. People tend to burn out when they don’t love their work. Passion keeps you inspired and motivated.
On a larger scale, leading with passion keeps your business thriving. Being passionate about your work draws people in, from the right team members to your ideal customers. It gives you the confidence and clarity to deliver your brand message or market your products and services. It also inspires authentic content that will resonate with your audience.
4. What do you want to solve?
At its core, a good business is created in order to provide shortcuts, solutions, and efficiency. It tackles specific consumer pain points that a business owner has observed and studied firsthand.
Successful businesses solve problems. On-demand car and ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft addressed transportation issues (i.e expensive taxis, peak-hour on trains and buses, etc). Meanwhile, Netflix made it easier and more convenient to watch a variety of shows, movies, documentaries on multiple devices. Because of its streaming services, consumers no longer had to go to video stores and pay expensive fees to watch a DVD.
As long as people have problems, they will always look for solutions. The best way for you to get your customers’ attention, and for your business to succeed, is to give them the best solution to a problem they’re facing. You can have a great idea but if it doesn’t address the needs of your ideal customer, it won’t generate sales. Ultimately, businesses should solve problems to make things run more smartly, efficiently, and smoothly.
5. How do you get there?
Zig Ziglar, award-winning motivational speaker and salesperson, once said, “If you want to reach a goal, you must ‘see the reaching’ in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.”
What does “the reaching” look like in your own mind when you think of your business in the future? What kind of journey are you willing to undertake to realise your vision?
Remember that your business vision is a representation of the long-term future. Setbacks and failures are a natural part of that journey. And those setbacks won’t matter in the long run because of how far you’ve moved forward in reaching that vision.
Admittedly, it can be challenging to look on the bright side when you’re in the midst of a setback, as opposed to reminiscing about it. Here are three tips to keep a positive attitude in moving forward:
Be proactive. Don’t let things happen to you. Instead, you should make things happen in the world. Certain circumstances may be out of your control, but how you act to improve the situation is in your hands.
Develop an attitude of gratitude. It’s important to review failures, but don’t forget to celebrate your wins, too. Finding things to be grateful for will boost the morale of the whole team even during difficult times.
Look for the silver linings. Gain wisdom and find new opportunities from the problems you face. Learn how you and your business can grow from the situation.
Every business owner has different motivations for why they started their ventures, but finding your own will require a lot of introspection. Part of discovering that vision is learning what kind of small business owner you want to be and what your business should achieve and solve. When you’ve aligned those goals, realising that vision involves further reflection before action.
It includes reframing your failures, defining your personal definition of business success, affirming your passion about your business, and ensuring that you’re prepared for the long journey of achieving the vision you want for your small business.
If you need help with your business goals and vision, specifically in the finance area, book a call now.