Some of us are fortunate and get a vision for our business from day one. Others want to have a business, and begin with what they can do. They add on services or products they can sell. Vision or no vision, they need to put food on the table.
At some point, without a strong vision and mission for your business, you will plateau in sales and/or profits. Either you will grow to the point that you can’t keep your arms around all the divergent products or services, or you will have to hire people and set-up systems without synergies, significantly impacting your profits.
In order to grow, even the business owner in the latter example will revisit vision. Why? Because it is the foundation of any company. Vision determines:
- the strategies we employ to grow.
- the culture we want for our business.
- the people we need to hire for our team.
- the systems and processes we need to build a strong foundation for growth.
- our point of difference, our brand message, and our marketing and sales plans.
By beginning with the end in mind, we build a strong foundation that provides the company’s ability to scale over time.
Ask God For Your Vision
I remember when I went back to school to become a counselor. Since I wasn’t working full-time during these years, I had a lot of time to reflect, daydream, and plan. I threw out all kinds of options.
Since counseling was completely different than my 20-year business career, I knew I wanted to incorporate several elements into what I would focus on in the future. I used to write them all in my journal and give them to God to help me formulate my vision. (As an aside, I believe God gives us everything, even our business vision or career calling.)
One of the crazy ideas I came up with was having an Art Supply store/Art Studio/Counseling practice. We could do art therapy, art workshops, and make it easy for everyone by having a supply store attached. My mentor at the time, who thought all of my ideas were great, even said this was one I should pass on.
Instead I started with a long-term vision for a Christian counseling and coaching center. I planned to have different professionals offering an array of services in both the coaching and counseling arena. I also knew that I needed to have God in the middle of all of it, so we ended up with Christian counseling, Christian life coaching, and Christian business coaching. This was planned from the beginning.
Vision Informs Strategy
Having the long-term vision in advance, helped me grow strategically. I never felt that God had a specific timeline for me. I just moved in the direction of the vision. Maybe he did have a timing element though – slow. He knew I had worked a ton of hours per week in my business career and that my values were guiding me to slow down and raise my family.
His vision for me was perfect. It allowed for growth over time; but because I knew where I was headed, I was better able to put a foundation in place that has allowed for growth.
Some highlights in moving toward my vision that I feel translates to most of us:
- Adding that first employee – I had to remember that each employee is really a profit center, not just an expense. One of my past employers always complained that my department of financial people was just overhead. I have never believed that. On the contrary, we need each position in the company. Some are needed to free up revenue generators to do their thing. So, remember, even an assistant who answers phones, pushes paper, and assists you, is really magically freeing up your time to work on revenue generating things. We have been able to grow to a team of 10 at Crossroads.
- Automating processes – The first time I had to buy a software subscription to Quickbooks, all I could think of was the recurring expense. Then we needed Basecamp for project management and Harvest for timekeeping. The office automation expense was growing. Finally, when we were not able to keep up with all of our social media clients manually, we added Coschedule. What was a constant chore and concern with 4-5 accounts managed by one person, immediately enabled her to manage and grow to 10-12 accounts. This one I could see a direct correlation to growth. Automating processes may feel too costly, but assessing the value it offers is critical.
- Changing offices to meet the space needs – This was the scariest move to date as we more than doubled the cost of our first building. We went from a 1,200 sq ft office to 3,200 sq ft and we only needed 2/3rds of the space. I was lucky and was able to rent out the other third for a year. At least I thought I was lucky, but the new space made opportunity for growth and we grew. Before the lease was up, I had people in our conference room working until we could expand into that extra third. Now we are about out of space again and have people doubling up.
- Culture was our guide – I wanted to create a space that was a haven for clients. That was comfortable and peaceful. At the same time, the vision was to provide such personal service that everyone, regardless of what they were coming for, felt personally welcomed and taken care of. I also wanted to have a reputation of quality and integrity. Everyone on our team embodies that and I hear weekly compliments on our team, our space, and our service. This culture makes Crossroads what it is.
Vision Identifies Mistakes That We Learn From
Of course, you are getting the what worked summation. We made mistakes along the way. I have wasted money on plenty of apps and processes. I have had people pass through our team that have not matched the culture. And yes, I am running out of office space again.
The point is that by having a clear vision for your business, you will at least have fewer mistakes, recognize them quickly when they happen, and have a guide for how to fix them going forward. Vision offers a lens for viewing decisions and activities and determining whether they are moving you toward your ultimate goals. Everything can be laid out with the vision as the comparison.
How is Your Vision and Foundation?
If you are not sure how strong your vision is for your business or if you have a solid foundation to grow on, download our Clarity Kit. It has a business assessment and a guide to building your foundation.
And guess where it all starts. That’s right, with vision.