I am writing this blog post just after Martin Luther King Jr. day. As is my yearly tradition, I just finished reading Mr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This year, I was struck by how powerfully MLK communicated his vision for America’s future. Martin Luther King had such a vivid vision for the future of America and a contagious passion for carrying it out, I sit here truly inspired to do what I can to further his cause. This drive for personal growth that I feel, I strive to replicate it in my personal and professional life by setting a vision of my own.

Do you have a vision for where you would like your company to be at the end of the year? Have you thought about (in a big picture sort of way) how you will generate new sales, which networking events you will attend, how you will make and receive referrals, and what you would like to accomplish this year in advancing your business?

If you do not have a vision for the year, you will end up missing a lot of opportunities that you could have prepared for and at the end of the year, you will be left with results that are mediocre. I am going to share with you how to formulate a powerful vision for your company that will produce the results you want. I want you to be inspired to reach new goals and inspired to take new risks. Before we discuss what vision is, let’s first talk about what it’s not.

What Vision is Not

When people like the former General Electric CEO, Jack Welch, step into a new role at work, they don’t hope for immediate outcomes. They don’t hold meetings with employees to discuss problems, exchang excuses, and guess why they missed their financial targets. No successful business person can behave in this way. Leaders and business owners must have a clear picture of where they are going first. They must be solution-oriented, fact-based, and well-informed.

Take for example an NFL quarterback preparing for the season. What if he just showed up for practice, didn’t visualize a successful season, and only practiced drills with no game plan? Is this what his teammates and fans need from him? Absolutely not! Yet, this is what so many business people do year in and year out. No goals, no plan to get there, and no power behind their plays.

Having a vision and seeing it through is not filling your days with unintentional activity. To be a visionary, you must know your purpose, blaze your trail and spend each day proactively taking calculated risks. Successful entrepreneurs do not shy away from any opportunity to share their latest venture, and they don’t sit around hoping the right contacts will come their way.

What Vision IS

Stephen Covey in his book, The Eighth Habit, defines vision as “seeing with the mind’s eye what is possible in people, in projects, in causes and enterprises. Vision results when our mind joins need with possibility”. (pg 65) If you want to grow your business this year, take the time to picture how the people in your network function together with the product/service you sell and how those two things simultaneously impact your community. Then, set goals. Create measurable goals for the moving pieces in your control.

Let’s look at an example.

I have a friend who owns an insurance company. This year, he may have the vision to grow his bottom line by 15%. This is how his vision would break down into SMART goals:

  • To increase the number of higher margin policies sold by 10%
  • To increase the number of lower margin policies sold by 18%
  • To increase the number of networking events he attends this year from 4 to 12
  • To increase the number of cold calls he makes in a month from 20 to 50
  • To increase the number of times he asks current clients for a referral from 1 to 2
  • To get licensed to sell financial products so that his potential client market increases

These goals illustrate a straightforward version of the planning that needs to be done each year if you want to leverage the power of vision to grow your business.

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Believing in Your Vision Means Walking Through Your Fears

After you have taken your vision and broken it down into manageable goals, you must begin to take action.

More than likely, unseen obstacles will begin to pop up, and you may fear that somewhere you made a bad decision. Here is where the proverbial rubber meets the road, and your vision will help you – stay the course. Believe in your company, believe in your vision, and believe in yourself.

If you need to adjust your goals for the year, do so. That’s natural. Just don’t do it often – maybe once or at most, twice a year. Your budget should reflect your vision broken down by quarters. You can easily check to see how you are progressing on your income and expense goals, but don’t lose heart if the numbers aren’t exactly what you forecasted.

Continually remind yourself of your vision for the year and the larger vision you have for your company as a whole. Work hard and believe!

We would love to hear how you have used vision to grow your business. Please share your story with us in the comments.