The starting point for any business is its end, or the final position the owner-manager wants to go through the growing pain to achieve, because every business should be created for a purpose – a reason! You should have a result, destination or goal in mind for your business. This can only happen if you have a vision or a mental picture of the kind of business you want yours to be, and this will flow out of your core values – your beliefs, principles and standards that guide your behaviour. While your vision should determine the direction your business will take, your values will form the basis of the quality of your decisions and behaviour.
The word ‘vision’ comes from the Latin “videre’, to see! The importance of having a business vision cannot be over-stated. Some critics see vision as a case of soft sentimentalism, with no place in the tough world of business. They are wrong, and I have many business case studies to prove that! People who have a clear and powerful vision, which they are able and willing to share with others, are typically successful people who make things happen. One of the most powerful statements about having a vision is the famous “I have a dream” speech by Martin Luther King in 1963, shortly before his assassination. King’s dream was taken up by others and became the basis for remarkable advances in the fight for civil rights for black Americans. Another true visionary who made his dreams happen was Walt Disney. The following report illustrates the power of a clear and shared vision. The opening of Disney World was celebrated with a grand opening ceremony at which Walt Disney’s widow was asked to speak. She was introduced to the vast audience by a speaker who completed his eulogy of her late husband with the words: “Mrs Disney, I just wish Walt could have seen all of this!” Mrs Disney stood, said just two words and sat down to a thunderous applause, and many tears. She simply said: “He did!”
A vision has power. It is able to:
After deciding on the vision for your firm, it is then necessary to formulate its specific purpose, in line with that vision and your core values. Doing this is essential for focusing activities and effort. It is obvious that Pepsi’s activities and efforts are very focused on one specific purpose, since their mission statement simply says: ‘To beat Coca-Cola’. Together with its vision, a firm’s purpose gives it direction and performance targets to aim at. It avoids people getting caught in the ‘activity trap’, of being consumed by ‘busy-ness’. It also helps avoid the ‘urgency addiction’, by putting first things first (i.e. working at the most important things before the others). Of course, whether or not something is important can only be decided with reference to what it is you want to achieve – your vision.
When a purpose or destination is known, it enables you to measure how far along the path each activity takes you. You are able to evaluate each activity – “Is it contributing to reaching our destination? … to achieving our goal(s)? … to hitting our target(s)?”
But … although you need a business vision and a more specific purpose, you can’t do a vision or a goal. They must be translated into specific activities that will get you there. Starting in business without a vision and specific objectives is like setting off on a holiday without having any idea where you want to go. Only when you decide on your destination can you plan your route and method of travel. Do you know where your business is going? Do you know where you want it to go?