Back in elementary school, I remember sitting in the optometrist’s office waiting for her to fit me with my first pair of eyeglasses. I wasn’t sure if they’d do me any good. After all, I’d gotten this far in life without them. After she had adjusted them on my face, she asked me to look across the room to a painting of a house on the far wall. To my amazement, I could not only see the house clearly but read the street address number above the door. I had never been able to do that in my life. I’d always assumed that no one could read something that small without standing right in front of it!
The architect who designed the house in that picture also had to have a clear vision of what it looked like before the work of building it could begin. Imagine for a moment that the architect started ordering materials and moving dirt before he’d determined exactly what he was building. The chances are very high that he’d waste a lot of time and money taking several wrong turns!
It’s the same for those of us trying to build a coaching or consulting practice. We need to be able to “see” a picture of what our business is going to look like two or three years in the future before we can begin building it. A true vision isn’t simply a fantasy, but a short carefully crafted written statement that paints a verbal picture of what your business will look like at some point in the future. Like the architect, we can’t expect to build what we can’t describe to others in writing.
Your vision for your future represents the heart and soul of your business. The book of Proverbs tells us… “without vision, the people perish”. I’m sure we can apply the same logic to our businesses as well… “without vision, your business will likely perish too!”
Having a clear vision is vitally important because it determines your priorities and makes it much easier to focus on what’s important in your practice. With a detailed and exciting vision of what you are building, it’s much easier to stay focused on your ultimate goals. With a clear vision, it’s far easier to create appropriate strategies to make your vision a reality.
But, without clearly defined vision, we are like a ship without a rudder on the open sea… doomed to drift forever in no particular direction. That’s when we can get so demoralized by our lack of progress that we’re tempted to quit the business we worked so hard to launch.
Having a great vision statement helps avoid a trap more than a few coaches and consultants fall into… what I call “survivor mode”. Professionals in survivor mode work to make the rent or “just get by” this month. Their goal is surviving as opposed to thriving. As a result, that’s what they’ll usually make… enough to pay the bills and that’s about it. They’ll almost always stay on the edge of failure.
One can’t write a great vision statement in an hour or even a day. It might take a week or two. It may require long walks in the woods or a few solitary days at the beach to think about. Good vision statements are short, passionate, powerful and memorable. They are realistic and describe a specific desired outcome… but at the same time, make it full of your passion for your business. Good vision statements can be emotional! Then ask yourself… Is it something you really want?… or is it someone else’s vision for you?
Great vision statements take time to write, but they don’t need to be difficult…
When I work with clients on creating a One Page Business Plan®, we always begin by working together to craft a realistic vision statement that answers these 5 questions:
- What is your timeline? (3 years is best in most cases)
- What annual revenues do you want at the end of that time period?
- What will be the geographic scope of your business?
- What specific services will you offer?
- Who will be your ideal client?
Nothing else belongs in your vision statement. Take a few minutes to do a rough draft of your vision based on these five questions. Keep it simple and less than 2 or 3 sentences. Put it away for a few days and come back to it. Do that walk in the woods or day at the beach to refine it. Get excited about it… if you can’t, you probably have the wrong vision or are trying to act out someone else’s dream for you.
Your vision statement isn’t something you can write and then forget. It will form the bedrock of your practice. Review it often. Print it out and put it on the wall near your desk or make it the screen saver on your computer. A compelling vision gives you a sense of mission and purpose. It will create energy in your business that may be missing now. It will make you want to get up early and work late on achieving your goals!