What is a Vision and Why is it Important?
According to business dictionary, a business vision is an aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action.
Many, if not most, businesses do not have a vision. This means there is no guide for the present OR the future.
On the surface, visions seem a little silly and I will admit that, at first, I did not understand their purpose. I just thought it to be something of a website filler or a cool banner hanging in the shop.
On the contrary, a vision is much more than that. A vision serves as a guide for every decision the company and employees make. Taking the time to write out the vision for your business will make decisions now and later much easier, much less stressful, and in line with what matters most to you.
In this article we will layout the 3 primary things to keep in mind when crafting a company vision.
- Start With the ‘Why’
- What is a Good/Bad vision?
- How to Create a Vision
Start with the ‘why’
If you haven’t listened to the TED talk by Simon Sinek "Start With Why" then make it a priority to watch it before the end of the day. It covers something that we cannot miss as business owners.
The talk prompts you to ask yourself, "What is my why?" It prompts you to get to the root of what makes you tick. Why do you do what you do? Done right, this exercise takes some digging and deep thought, but it is well worth it.
During my personal digging, I realized that I wanted to be a part of something great. My 'why' is to surround myself and my business with great people. People that are all driven to do better every day. So my ‘why’ involved words like people, efficiency, cabinets components and so on.
Don’t cheat yourself or your business by skipping this step. Ask yourself why and you will not only have a great starting point for crafting your vision, but you will also probably be surprised at what you learn about yourself.
If you are having a hard time getting started, then just get going by writing down words that appear in your everyday environment often. Then add to that things you are passionate about, things that you are good at, things that maybe you have put on the back burner for lack of time or money. Pull out all the stops to really figure out your ‘why’.
Taking the time to do this will make your work much less complicated and much more fulfilling down the road.
Examples of a good/bad vision
Personally, I don't think there are necessarily 'bad' visions, but there are visions that don't reach far enough to serve as a challenge or a guide for the future of the company. I look at a vision as something that is bigger than anything you can imagine but clear enough to offer the motivation to achieve it. If you want your vision to truly be effective, let it be big.
Let’s start with my company vision: "To be the most efficient cabinet component manufacturer in the world!"
At first glance it is easy to say that is crazy or unrealistic. The hardest word for me to write down was 'world'. For some reason that was very hard for me to do. But after thinking about it for a while, I decided that it was the only word that encompassed the way I felt about our business. I drew a line in the sand that was very defined but I could not see the end of it. To me that is the key to making a great vision.
Don’t be suckered in to making a weak vision that doesn’t drive your company forward.
For example, if I were to have made my vision: "The best component maker there is" it would not have offered the same effect. While saying very similar things it does not have anywhere near the same effect. When you hear our vision, it instantly lets people know what we are all about.
Do the same when crafting your company vision. Make it clear enough so that everyone understands it, but also big enough the people around you will want to buy in.
Creating a Vision
By now you know your ‘why’ and you have seen an example of a strong and weak vision. Now it is time to create your own.
What are your strong points as a business? What do you do well? What do you do poorly? Start looking for clues that help to tie your ‘why’ to the company vision. If you migrate towards the strong points of the business and tie that to your why, then you are on your way to a strong vision. Keep it short and to the point but with big implications.
For more tips to get started on writing your vision statement, check out this article by Business Coach Martin Holland.
Why Vision Matters in the cabinet industry
I recently had a conversation with a cabinet shop owner that had a CNC machine, edgebander and the regular tools of most shops. They specialized in high quality modern cabinets and furniture.
After reflecting on their strengths they realized that they were not very strong at manufacturing. They were strong at design, finish, and assembly. He told me that, although it was hard to stop cutting their own parts at first, it was easy once they defined the company vision.
Once they had their vision in place, all decisions were made with the vision in mind. When a question or an opportunity came up, they could simply ask, "Does this align with the company vision?" It didn’t take them long to realize that milling did not align with their vision of becoming the most sought after modern cabinet maker in the state.
Defining your vision means you are actually working towards where you want to go. If you don't define your vision, you can end up settling in the industry for something that's not even your dream (and stress, overwork, and be underpaid to get there).
Don't settle for less. Ask why, think big, write it down, and start working towards your vision today.