Your Business Needs a Vision
“Only 22% of U.S. employees strongly agree that their company’s leaders have a clear direction for their organization.” – Gallup
If you were going to drive across the country for a family vacation, would you try doing it without GPS?
I don’t even drive across town without my GPS on.
What’s the purpose of a GPS?
GPS helps us get to our destination faster. It even helps us avoid traffic or construction.
This is exactly what a defined vision does for your business. It provides you the GPS to accelerate your company towards achieving what you want in your business.
The risks of not having a vision for your business
There’s a saying that goes, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll likely end up there.” Without a clear vision, your organization is going to make decisions based on personal variables and not what’s best for your organization.
“Without a clear strategy (vision) in place, your talent is not focused.” – Steve Van Remortel
A Gallup’s recent State of the American Workplace report found only 22% of U.S. employees strongly agree that their company’s leaders have a clear direction for their organization. And for many organizations paying for their talent (payroll) is their largest expense.
If your employees don’t know where the company is going, they can’t help you achieve the vision you have for your company.
How do you make a vision for your business?
I am going to walk you through the 7 questions that you need to answer to create a vision for your business. A question you may have is how long should your vision be.
When I first started, a 5-year vision was very common but in our fast-paced world a 2 or 3-year vision is most common.
Over the 20 years of doing this, I have found the best approach is to split up your leadership team into smaller “homework teams” of 2-3 people. Each team will answer the questions to prepare their vision or target for where they want the business to be in 3 years.
This will speed up the process and get three to four different perspectives on where the business should go. The final step is to meet as a larger team to hash out each homework team’s vision and finalize the vision for your business.
7 questions to build your vision
Your vision should contain both objective and subjective components. This is what differentiates a vision from a vision statement. A vision statement has no components to measure to see if progress is being made towards achieving that vision.
A clear vision creates a bullseye that all company decisions aim at.
Question 1: What is the financial vision for your company?
This is the objective component of your vision. What are the four to seven strategic measurements that you’re going to monitor to make sure you are moving towards your vision?
Some examples are:
• Total revenue
• Gross margin percentage
• Sales by product
• Sales by target market
Answering this question will define in detail what you want your company to look like financially in three years.
Question 2: What is your differentiation?
Now we get into the subjective components of your vision. Another way to ask this question is why is a customer going to do business with you vs your competitor? It’s your “why”.
Here at Stop The Vanilla, we call it your mint chocolate chip. It’s the reason as consumers we are willing to pay more for a product or service.
Question 3: Who are your target markets?
By the end of your 3-year vision, what types of organizations and customers will value your differentiation the most? I like to see organizations set a primary and secondary target market.
Your primary target market is the organizations and customers who will value your differentiation the most and are willing to pay you more for it. The companies that value it, but not the most, are your secondary target market.
A lot of times when working with companies, they will want to have 4-5 different target markets. But what they find is they rarely get past the primary and secondary target markets.
Focus your limited resources on your primary and secondary target markets to increase sales & profits.
Question 4: What geographic markets do you want to serve?
Now it’s time to answer where is your differentiation valued most? An example to help you visualize it would be pursuing the 90 cheese manufacturers (your target market) in 5 Midwest states.Your target markets need to be finite.
This will help you focus your efforts and enable you to measure how successful you are at getting into these new geographic markets over your 3-year vision. This could be nationally or internationally.
Question 5: What products or services do you want to offer?
Think of what products or services could help strengthen and make your differentiation more tangible. This will help you add profitable products and services to your offering.
We just recently added, per our vision, career and life planning. This strengthens our differentiation by helping leaders optimize the strategy and talent in their business, career and life. Make sure to check out our next blog where we will be covering how to create a vision for your career and life.
Question 6: How do you want your employees to describe your culture?
In three years how do you want your culture to be described? What do you currently like about your culture and what do you not like?
Then put action plans in place to make that culture a reality. Many companies will use employee surveys to ensure they achieve their culture vision.
Creating a healthy and vibrant culture is an important step in reaching your vision.
Question 7: What do you want your customers to say about your company?
A typical answer to this question is that you want your customers to view you as partners, not just vendors. And that they come to you first to help solve their issues in your area of expertise. We accomplish this by using a customer survey at the start to set a benchmark of how your customers view you right now.
Use these findings to define what you want your customers to be saying by the end of your vision and then complete the survey again at the end of your vision. Doing so will let you know if you were successful in moving the perceptions of your customers to your vision of how you want to be perceived.
There may be unique components or descriptors of your vision that are unique to you. An example of this is a company who not only has organic growth but also growth through acquisitions. Part of your vision could include specifics around your acquisition strategy.
Don’t be afraid to include extra components if they bring value in creating a clearer bullseye for all of your team members to aim for.
As a resource we want to help you not only define your vision but also help you achieve it. Whether it’s by downloading our FREE VISON TEMPLATE or emailing me personally at Steve@stopthevanilla.com. to set up a 15-minute discovery call to see how we could you achieve what you want in your business.
Turn on the GPS for your business by creating a 3-year vision to achieve what you want with the right plan and the right talent. As we say at STV Advisors, “Those Who Plan – PROFIT”.
Listen to our new podcast episode that covers these questions more in-depth:
Thank you for reading this week’s blog. If you have any questions about taking a driving forces assessment, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to sign up below for Stop The Vanilla’s Strategy & Talent Newsletter to stay up to date on all of our content here at Stop The Vanilla.