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July 3, 2012

Small Business Visioning 101

VisioningYesterday I fired a shot across the bow of MBA programs everywhere when I said that for a small entrepreneur the best place to start wasn’t with a business plan but with determining what your Vision for your company is.  Today we’ll take a look at how you can actually do that.

Trust me when I say that this will be fairly painless.  Most food entrepreneurs are creative folks – even if you’re like me and tend to be a very tightly-wound Type A food entrepreneur you’re still creative because you have an idea for a business that involves creating something that other people will enjoy.  So yes, you’re creative.  Now you get to put that creativity into action by somehow getting down onto paper what the Vision for your business is.

Start with this – describe to me what a day in your life would look like 5 years from now.

Include everything from the moment you wake up, to going to the office (or even not going to the office and working from home if that’s part of your Vision of what would make you happy), perhaps making sales calls or perhaps you want to talk with your Sales team who will be making those calls for you, etc etc etc.  Go through what an ideal day in your business life will look like and fill it in with as many details as possible.  For example, yesterday I mentioned that part of your Vision might be creating a business that gives you enough income to buy that BMW you’ve always wanted so I’d tell you to include into your Vision that you’re driving that car to work.  If, on the other hand, part of your Vision is being able to pick up your kids from school then you’d want to make sure that that is also built into your “Day In My Future Life” plan (and yes, you can drive that BMW to pick up your kids if that’s what you want).

Now you have to get that vision down onto paper (or sorts).  You can do this the old-fashioned ‘cut out images from a magazine and glue them to a Vision Board’ route or, if you’re more technologically savvy, create a Pinterest board with electronic images as it will serve the same purpose (and save you all that time cutting out images if that’s just not your thing).  Alternatively, I’m someone who likes to write so instead of picking out images I sat down and wrote out what my idea life would be like 5 years from now.  It included everything from getting up at 5am to run with my dogs (these Visions can be ambitious!) to answering emails to knocking things off my to-do list to – shockingly – even turning off my computer at a certain point in order to spend quality time with my family.   So choose a medium that works for you – be it images, electronic pictures, written word, or something else that gets you excited – and get that Vision of yours cemented somewhere.

The reason it’s important to cement the idea is that when you’re presented with opportunities for your business you can weigh those opportunities against the Vision you have and better determine whether the opportunity is actually going to help get you to your long term goal and Vision.  In the day-to-day running of our businesses it’s sometimes hard to stick our head up out of the weeds and we’re apt to say yes to every piece of business that comes our way simply because we’re trying to grow the business.  But not every opportunity is equal and sometimes saying yes to one thing may mean you have to say no to another (like being able to pick up your kids from school for instance) so having something that you can refer to when faced with opportunities can be really helpful as you guide your business down its road.

Lastly, I also want to add that if you’ve already started your business it doesn’t mean you can’t stop for a second and determine a Vision if you don’t yet have one.  Going through this process, regardless of where you are in your business, can be hugely beneficial to everyone.

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