Your vision is all about the future, sometimes involving things that have never been done. It is basically a mental image of your business as you see it existing somewhere in the future. That image is constructed in accordance with your actual goals and dreams, and is usually a reflection of not only how you see the world but of the place you envision your company occupying within that world. It answers the most fundamental question of all:
“Where is my business actually going?”
Now, if that sounds like the type of lofty question that requires a great deal of thought, you’re right. Entrepreneurs don’t generally stumble upon their business visions by accident. This is the type of future-centric imagining that actually requires active consideration and deep thought. You have to think about these things to create the type of concrete mental image that can serve as a destination worthy of the trip. For while your business vision has little to say about the strategic path you take to reach your ultimate destination, it says everything about what that destination actually is.
Your business vision can be inspired by a wide range of important company-specific concerns. For example, your company reputation as an employer and service provider can help to solidify your vision. Your financial objectives are an important consideration as well, as you want to ensure that your vision is broad enough to provide adequate income for you, your family, and your employees. Your desired rate of business growth, market sustainability, and even your own passion for the enterprise are all factors that come into play.
Naturally, your overall inspiration for going into business for yourself must be considered as well. As an entrepreneur, you have to have a reason for doing what you do. To be a successful entrepreneur, you are grounded by the principles and values you find important. All of those factors can help to create the vision that you need to ensure that your company is always moving in the right direction.
Ultimately, what you need to create is a mental image of precisely what your company would look like in its most ideal form. Imagine your company in its most perfect possible form, fulfilling its mission to the best of your expectations. When you can envision that reality, you have your vision in hand.
Your business vision is not a roadmap for success. It is a destination. Think of it this way: your values come first, and help to determine the type of business you want to create. Values are defining features of any company, and serve as a manual that can help to guide how everyone within an organization interacts at every level. Your values help to define how you view your employees, your customers, and your business mission. They serve as guidance to instruct your employees in their dealings with one another, with vendors, and with your customers. They are the glue that binds together the various components that make up your business culture. Still, your values should not be confused with vision. Values are reasons why you do the things you do to make that vision a reality.
With those values, you create and implement strategies. The strategies you use are the real road-map, and help to determine the path you navigate on your way to realizing your vision. Strategies are the how-to tactical plans that can change over time as new information appears, new challenges arise, and customer needs and wants change. Road-maps are like that, after all; there are times when unexpected construction and detours can force you to slightly modify your course for a time. At the end of the day, however, you have your destination in sight and can rely on your map to get you there as long as you continue in the right direction.
Vision is something else entirely. Your values are your reason for why you do things as you do. They are constant, and generally unyielding. Strategy is the map that offers the most viable path to ensuring that you reach your objective. It is flexible, and subject to modification when necessary. Strategy is about devising the best plan and tactic to best accomplish your mission and objective. Your success or failure is dependent on your execution of the strategic plan. Your vision, on the other hand, is the destination that you are trying to reach.