“Vision without action is merely a dream.
Action without vision just passes the time.
Vision with action can change the world.”
~ Joel Barker
Every new business starts somewhere; a lightning-strike idea right out of the blue, or a long-standing daydream you were determined to turn into reality. However the seeds of your business were planted in your mind, here you are, ready and willing to devote yourself to its growth and success.
You are giving it your all in every waking hour, sleeping less, skipping meals, cancelling dates with friends, relying on help from your nearest and dearest, focusing on the task(s) at hand and juggling all the others… all the while you smile and feel enthused about the difference this business will make to not only your world, but the whole world!
Then it happens.
You suddenly realise that you are not in control!
You can’t quite remember how you got to where you are and you have no idea where to go from here. Everything seems to have become rather complicated; there are unanswered questions, unpaid bills, a mounting task list, frustrated employees and you…. right in the middle of it all… with no idea what to do next.
Now, let’s rewind.
Let’s go back to the lightning-strike and daydream. Back then you knew what you wanted your business to be. You had unsurmountable drive to achieve it at all costs. And you dove right in, nothing could stop you, you were on your way to greatness!
So what went wrong?
As you were feverishly working away with Queens “Don’t Stop Me Now” anthem playing on repeat in your mind, you may have overlooked three critical elements that differentiate a successful business from an unsuccessful one.
The first of these is Vision.
Vision (n): the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom
Every entrepreneur should start their business based on a solid vision derived from their goals and aspirations.
Vision is not only about what you see here and now. Vision is about the future. The grand plan. The end goal.
After all, if you can’t see where you want your business to be in the future, how will you ever know if it is heading in the right direction?
So what do you do with this vision?
You write it down. You make a statement.
Now step back and look at those words. Do they hit the mark? Do they effectively explain how you envision the future of your business? Ask someone whose opinion you value to look at those words. Critique your vision statement, pull it apart, build it back up… do whatever you need to do to get it right.
Your business depends on getting this right.
Every decision, direction and action you make for your business from here on out must be made with the sole aim of achieving your vision.
Every decision, direction and action you make for your business which do not work towards achieving your vision simply amounts to wasted time and effort.
Now ask yourself; do you have time and effort to waste?
The good news is, if you didn’t start your business with a solid vision, it is never to late to get this right. Today is your day to start anew – grab some paper and write / draw / paint yourself a vision for the future of your business – you’re a (wo)man on a mission to succeed!
“How do I achieve this vision?” I hear you say. You do so by stating your Mission.
Mission [statement] (n): a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organisation, or individual
If your vision statement defines the future, your mission statement is a declaration of the actions your business will take in the present day to achieve that future.
Your mission statement provides focus and clarity, ensuring everyone is on the same page and actively working towards the same outcome. It is a communication tool for your employees and customers that tells them exactly how the business will achieve its vision in alignment with their needs.
When you realise that this statement defines your businesses goals, purpose and aims in the minds of everyone it meets, you realise how powerful it is.
Getting it right is imperative to your business success.
Start by thinking about how you define success, how you would like business decisions to be made and what direction you need the business to go to achieve its vision. If your statement becomes too wordy, prioritise your objectives and narrow them down to a distinct statement which supports your vision statement. Explain to everyone out there why your business is so important and what it can do for them.
Remember that your mission statement will also shape the culture within your organisation. It will attract certain types of people to work for you, it will tell them how they should act within the business and it will influence the way they think and feel about their jobs.
The benefits of this are numerous – your mission statement has the ability to create a healthy and happy working environment; your employees decisions have a point of focus (and a point of reference, should they ever forget what the focus is); your employees understand exactly what is expected of them; and your workforce becomes more efficient and effective.
So what exactly is culture in the context of business?
Culture (n): the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society
Culture is ‘the way we do things around here’. It’s the rules of the game. It’s the acceptable behaviours. It’s the collective thought. It’s what binds and unites a team.
It does not need to be rigid or controlling (you’re not creating a cult, your uniting a team), it can be flexible and accommodating within set limits that drive your workforce towards your business goals.
In a ‘loose tight culture’ you set the game for them (your vision), give them the tools required to work towards it (your mission) and you allow them to play their own way within a set of rules (your culture). How they play is up to them, as long as they stick to the rules and aim to win the game (business success!).
Take for example the game of football. To win you have to work as a team to score more goals than your opposition (the vision). Teams do this with strategic play, teamwork, skill and determination (the mission). All teams must play by the same rules, but some teams are more successful than others. Why is this? Largely, it is down to their culture. It’s about how they play, why they play, what drives them and how each individual in the team is unified by the desire to win.
So how do you create a winning culture in your business?
Culture should grow organically from your vision and mission statements. If they are clear and concise they will naturally indicate the type of culture required to achieve them. As you recruit employees into your business they should share your vision and demonstrate personality traits that will work well in your workplace.
When nurtured effectively culture can be one of your businesses greatest Unique Selling Points, distinguishing it from your competition and placing your business ahead in the marketplace. It does this by adding non-tangible value that gives your business a leading edge.
Afterall, a workforce that embraces your business culture are typically happier and more engaged than a workforce who do not.
They will demonstrate higher efficiency and productivity which can lead to greater staff retention and ultimately greater customer satisfaction.
They will strive for the same greatness your business strives for.
They will work towards the same vision.
They will be driven by the same mission.
They will give your business the power to change the world!
Give your business the power to change the world