Loud voices, traffic, interruptions, everyone needing a piece of you…it’s hard to drown out all of the noise and distraction in the world just to even think. So when someone asks you, “Where do you see your business in 5-10 years?”… you draw a blank.
I am just trying to get through this year, you think.
Many small business owners can’t think through all of the clutter in their minds as they try to juggle many different balls and deal with the day-to-day challenges of breaking through to a sustainable long-term business.
Yet, for some reason, our brains have no problem discerning what we don’t want. Most of us can say with confidence and power…
I don’t want to be working so many hours every week.
I don’t want to be worrying about cash flow every payroll.
I don’t want to be doing all of these tasks that I’m not even good at.
I don’t want employees who can’t think for themselves.
I don’t want a 9 p.m. call about a huge customer problem.
I think we can all agree, none of us want this!
And I know it may be hard to get your mind around how important it is, but the one thing that will ensure that the laundry list of what we don’t want isn’t present in 5-10 years is… to step back and figure out what we do want.
Without a vision, your business has no direction. It keeps you feeling like you are going around in circles, spinning all of the plates, yet never moving forward.
If you have a vision, you know where you are going, and it is where you want to be.
If you have a vision, you can start putting plans in place to get there.
If you have a vision, you can measure your business along the way, based on progress towards the vision.
If you have a vision, your team and employees can think for themselves because they also know where you are going.
Skipping this step is a fatal error for any small business.
How do you figure it all out with all of the noise and busyness though? Here are some steps:
- What product and service do you want to offer? Is it the highest revenue generator in your current business? Does it solve a problem or satisfy a need/want?
- Who is the target audience? What are the demographics and psycho-graphics of the people who want or need this product or service?
- How can you take your product/service, and the general population of people who want it, and create a narrower niche? Believe me, finding a niche for your business will grow it faster and easier.
- What strategies will you employ in your business? For example, will you use an online strategy to bring your product to market or will you build a bricks and mortar outlet? Will you have inside sales people or outside sales people to sell your product? These are strategies to bring your product to your ideal customer.
- What team and systems would you need in place to support your vision in 5-10 years? You want to think ahead so that everyone you hire today, moves you towards the vision of the future.
- What marketing message and which marketing elements will begin to build and create your brand image? It takes awhile to build brand awareness and credibility. You don’t want to waste precious years before you get your message right.
I know it is hard to narrow your focus and think through all of these long-term pieces when you are trying to juggle all of the balls and keep your revenues up. But you already know you can’t sustain this level of plate-spinning forever.
By ignoring the future, and not creating a strong vision and foundation for your business, your arms will weaken and soon your business will start to shrink, not grow. At this stage, you are usually too tired and money is too tight to regain momentum.
Start now, and carve out the time and space to get your vision straight. I do this by carving out the time for my relationship with God. After all, He gives us everything, even the vision for our business!